The future generation of compact Mercedes cars will be articulated on a new hybrid architecture that will be able to use both combustion and electric motors, with dimensions never less than 4.5 meters and up to a size similar to a Class C and that will carry new batteries of lithium iron phosphate to lower costs.
The bases seem clear in the headquarters of Mercedes. The main draw for the brand is its AMG, Maybach, G-Class, and new generation EQ model ranges, perhaps because the first three are the most profitable and the last of all is simply the future. Within the EQ strategy, continuing with the launches of the new Mercedes EQE and EQS, the next step is to structure a new access range with more refined costs, mainly in the battery section and where we will see lower-selling models and new high pointing to market trends.
In other words, saloon and SUV models will become crossovers given the importance of aerodynamics in an electric car, which needs no less than 66.7% of its energy to overcome the force of the air. The first representatives of this new generation of cars based on the new MMA platform will be the EQA and EQB. Partly thanks to them, Mercedes will also be able to reduce spending on the development of combustion engines by 40% and, by 2030, by 70%. The objective of the brand is to be completely neutral in emissions, counting the life cycle of the car from 2039.
Two Architectures for All Categories of Electric Cars From Mercedes
Already in 2021, the EVA platform has been launched, initially used by the Mercedes EQS and EQE, but a fully electric mega SUV is also on the way that will be integrated into the GLS range —with a more profiled body— as well as a medium SUV that will complement to the Mercedes GLC. In the lower range, on the current Module Frontal Architecture MFA II, the brand currently has the EQA and the recently launched EQB in the range, the electric SUV with an interior capacity of up to seven seats. The current problem is that the EVA platform is too big and expensive for compact and entry-level models and MFA II has limitations to continue evolving electric cars with the planned innovations of the brand, among which priority is, as we have said, a drastic change in the proportions of the car, a substantial reduction in weight and cost estimation, with special focus on the use of a generation of batteries with less expensive chemistry…
And, according to Mercedes, nickel is going to become more expensive in the coming years by around 60 percent while cobalt, whose use is already optimized in the large batteries used by both the Mercedes EQE and EQS, will also double the price soon. Therefore, lithium iron phosphate batteries take will be strategic for these new entry models to the brand. Speaking of dates, the first car planned to use this new modular tool kit will be the Mercedes EQA planned for 2024, a year later, the current EQB will also mutate to this new construction concept, but without ceasing to the current model.
Mercedes’ biggest hope for its new range of electric – and electrified combustion – cars based on MMA is that the powertrain will be very cost-competitive. They also bet on fast charging speeds and a particularly long range even though it is not the strong point of iron phosphate battery technology. And of course, Mercedes will also continue betting on evolutions of the MBUX system to further distance itself from the competition in connectivity and user experience.
Bet on Lower and Aerodynamic Bodies
Mercedes has confirmed that no MMA-based car will be shorter than 4.50m, which means that the future EQA will be a slightly larger car than the current 4.46m-long model. But above all, it will be lower, more aerodynamic… So much so that the classic silhouette of a hypothetical electric A-Class would cease to make sense, diverting this range towards the strict saloon, coupé or Shootingbrake formats linked to the current CLA ranges, and with a maximum size similar to that of a current Class C
Regarding batteries, in principle, lithium iron phosphate —LFP— cells have a lower energy density than conventional lithium-ion batteries, but they have already accumulated years of experimentation in stationary storage devices or electric cars with greater need cost savings you achieve. However, significant increases in energy density have already been achieved and they offer a promising evolution in terms of performance. BYD can already be considered a specialist and experts estimate the potential savings that can be achieved with them compared to lithium-ion batteries at up to 30%. In addition, the LFP batteries have also been shown to offer greater durability against recharge cycles throughout the life of the battery, they are less sensitive to chemical overflow, that is, they have less risk of catching fire, although, in return, they perform worse at low temperatures, which requires auxiliary measures to prevent heat the battery more efficiently.
Engines and Scalable Technology: Also an Electric Vehicle With Extended Autonomy!
MMA is designed to house combustion engines on the front end… but not always to propel the car, but rather to generate electricity to feed the electric motor using extended range technology. It would be a small, ultra-efficient, and well-insulated engine from the cabin, although in no case would it be a global model for all the markets in which Mercedes is going to sell electric models based on MMA, but rather a transitional solution for those markets with the infrastructure-less developed recharge.
And as for the combustion engines for thermal versions, but always electrified, it seems that they will come from Daimler’s cooperation with Geely and that they could also be used by Volvo. This would therefore mean abandoning certain engines that were developed with Renault, going on to use newly developed three- and four-cylinder units that were also optimized in terms of costs.
MMA-based cars will coexist for years with their counterparts in the current range, which, when the first of these models, the EQA, appears in 2024, the current generations of GLA and EQA will not have closed their life cycle, something that It will also happen when the future EQB is launched on the market in 2025. And, according to Mercedes, both its combustion versions and, especially, the plug-in hybrids will continue to be the best compromise solutions for customers in many markets.
In 2025 it will also be clear which models will pass away and Class B is one of the biggest candidates given the definitive deviation of the client towards SUB format bodies. A GLB/EQB combines as much functionality as a Class B, offering the aesthetics that, as has been verified, the customer most demands.