26 March 2021
26 March 2021
Creating an electric vehicle is no longer a case of simply unbolting a combustion engine and replacing it with an electric motor, battery pack and plug.
That might have worked when experimental EVs weren’t expected to travel more than 50km per charge. But now we expect a range of 400km-plus, along with levels of equipment and refinement to match the same experience of a combustion-driven car. So engineers and designers now consider every component to not only maximise efficiency but also minimise environmental impact.
So it goes with the new Mercedes-Benz EQA. It may be similar in shape to the recently launched second-generation GLA SUV but the comparisons end quickly, because this all-new EQA was designed solely to function as an electric vehicle. It represents the latest thinking from EQ, the sub-brand established by Mercedes-Benz and charged with having plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles make up more than 50 per cent of sales by 2030.
It’s no straightforward task. Mercedes-Benz invented the passenger car in 1886, and has had 135 years to refine that concept into today’s industry-leading models. Yet the company’s EQ brand came into existence just five years ago; its first fully electric model, the EQC, was unveiled in 2018.
Now the EQA 250 SUV is soon to arrive: the company’s first all-electric entrant to its popular compact family. It continues to build on the success of the larger EQC, which received the prestigious 2020 New Zealand Car of the Year award.
Electric vehicle charging with the EQA
The EQA is expected to have a range that exceeds 400 kilometres – about double the average weekly commute, and more than most weekend day trips. You can recharge the battery to 80 per cent in as little as 30 minutes (via a commercial rapid charger) and the driving experience is configured to meet the exacting standards of the Mercedes-Benz customer.
These exemplary traits result from years of innovation, trial and error, exhaustive testing and feedback, and constant refinement – four years and hundreds of thousands of kilometres across 13 countries, in the case of the EQA.
Significantly, this learning curve and rapid development will form the backbone of the Mercedes-Benz EVs that are set to become a staple of our driving lives over the coming decades.
Getting home on the range
Here are some of the features that help to allay any concerns about range, and make the Mercedes-Benz EQA among the most advanced EVs on the market:
- The EQA is the first EQ model whose aerodynamic development has been undertaken entirely digitally, resulting in a coefficient of drag (Cd) value in the wind tunnel of 0.28, confirming excellent aerodynamic efficiency that helps reduce power use.
- Among the most important aerodynamic measures on the EQA are a closed cooling air control system in the upper section; aerodynamically efficient front and rear aprons; a smooth, almost completely enclosed underbody; specifically adapted front and rear wheel spoilers; sealed headlight surrounds; and optimised exterior mirrors.
- Efficiency was key when designing the thermal architecture. A specially designed heat pump directs waste heat from the electric powertrain to warm the passenger compartment, reducing the draw on battery power for the heating system, increasing driving range.
- The climate control for the interior of the EQA can be pre-set ahead of use, while the vehicle is still charging – again, reducing draw on the battery during driving. This function is controlled directly from the MBUX infotainment system or via the Mercedes me app.
- The battery is part of the intelligent thermal management system. To ensure it is always kept within optimum temperature range, it can be cooled or heated as required via a coolant-fed plate underneath the battery.
- A new feature, Navigation with Electric Intelligence, calculates the fastest route to the given destination. On the basis of continual range simulations, the system makes allowances for numerous factors such as topography and the weather. It can also react dynamically to changes, such as the traffic situation or personal driving style.
- Via Navigation with Electric Intelligence, the battery may also be pre-heated or cooled while driving in order to ensure it is within the ideal temperature window when visiting a rapid charging station.
- An EQ menu in the media display includes menus relating to charging options, electrical consumption and energy flow, to help you attain peak driving efficiency. Displays include a wattmeter rather than a rev counter, percentage of power used, and recuperation. Another section shows whether a destination can be reached without a charging stop.
- Recuperation of braking energy provides a key measure to extend driving range. The driver can select the recuperation function manually using paddles behind the steering wheel.
The result is one of the most advanced and everyday-usable EVs on the market; yet it is also just one milestone on the long journey by Mercedes-Benz and its EQ subsidiary to electrify the motoring experience as we know it.
By Stephen Corby