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We test an electric Mercedes that can go 747 miles on a single charge

We test an electric Mercedes that can go 747 miles on a single charge
Magnify / There is only one Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, so it was important to bring it back in one piece.

Jonathan Gitlin

IMMENDINGEN, GERMANY – Driving off in the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX was a little more stressful than I expected. Not that it̵[ads1]7;s difficult to drive, or to look out of the low-slung streamliner, but it’s also the only one in existence. Mercedes wouldn’t tell us the program’s exact budget, only warning us that the sole EQXX should be considered priceless, but I’d guess somewhere in the range of three Bugatti Pur Sports.

Like the Bugatti, the EQXX was built to an engineering brief – in this case to build an electric vehicle that can travel at least 1,000 km on a single charge. Like the Bugatti, it’s also road legal: in April this year, less than two years after the project got the go-ahead, the team drove the EV 625 miles (1,006 km) from Sindelfingen, Germany, to Cassis, France, arriving with a 15 percent charge in the battery.

Two months later they followed it up with a longer drive that involved descending fewer mountains, driving from Stuttgart, Germany to Silverstone race track in the UK, where reigning Formula E champion Nyck de Vries then used the remaining charge to run some hot laps , the car eventually completed 747 miles (1,202 km) before stopping in the pit lane.

But this is no Bugatti, and there are no plans for a low-volume production run, not even at alarmingly expensive prices. The Vision EQXX is a one-off, a concept car come to life, but more fully realized than any other concept I’ve yet encountered. A pure engineering exercise or world record breaker wouldn’t bother with a functional infotainment system that uses a single 44-inch 8k screen, nor a fully trimmed interior, even if it is one that uses a cactus fiber fabric instead of leather, bamboo fiber carpets, and a biotechnology-derived silk, among other innovations.

And despite the priceless nature of this low-drag electric car, Mercedes let Ars drive it.

It is a dramatic shape, but in the service of the laws of aerodynamics.
Magnify / It is a dramatic shape, but in the service of the laws of aerodynamics.

Jonathan Gitlin

As you might guess from its appearance, the shape of the Vision EQXX is more than a little aero-optimized. After all, about 62 percent of the work the engine has to do is fighting air resistance. It’s a smaller car than it appears in the photos—about a foot shorter than the production EQS at 195.9 inches long. And that includes the long overhanging nose and tail, so the Vision EQXX’s wheelbase is actually compact, at 110.2 inches (2,800 mm).

A narrow 73.6-inch (1870 mm) width and low 53.1-inch (1348 mm) roofline give the car a fairly small frontal area—22.8 sq ft (2.12 m2)—and the frontal area works with the drag coefficient, which in this case is only 0.17, making it one of the lowest drag cars ever made.

From the nose to the C-pillar, it might remind you of the Porsche Taycan, a very smooth customer itself. The door handles retract flush with the doors, or at least they do at the front; the rear doors do not open, one of the few tells that this is really a concept and not a production car.

The wing mirrors are a size you might expect to find on a race car rather than something wearing a license plate, but they work well enough. Which is good, because there is no rear window. Instead, that space, and the roof as well, is given over to a 300 W solar panel which is fed into the car’s 12 V battery which, like the traction battery, is also lithium ion. (Since the priceless one-off unit will never be left parked outside for very long, Mercedes didn’t bother adding the extra gobs that would allow the panel to trickle-charge the traction battery.)

From the rear wheels back, it’s like little else, other than maybe the Lightyear Solo. When parked, the lower part of the rear end retracts into the body, extending out when the car’s on-board brain decides it’s more efficient to do so.

The rear extension can also be retracted if you need to drive up a ramp.
Magnify / The rear extension can also be retracted if you need to drive up a ramp.

Jonathan Gitlin

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