May 12, 2017
Everyone Wins with the Rise of EVs and Mercedes-Benz Wants to Lead the Winning Charge
EVs may become one of the most critical factors in protecting the environment from human manufacturing wastes, and right now the entire EV industry is at a crucial juncture. Electric vehicles are now much more mainstream, in stark contrast to the specialized niche image it projected just a few years before.
Governments are getting in on the act at least in the western world, as they’re starting legal initiatives meant to curb and eventually eliminate urban emissions. Pretty soon, laws may even be enacted that may limit the use of internal combustion engines.
Technical developments in battery technology have also been growing considerably. The driving range of the batteries keeps increasing, and these cars keep on getting faster. These EVs eventually can become just as practical and also just as exciting as their counterparts with their fossil fuel engines.
Right now, EV sales make up just 1% of the total worldwide market. Soon, this can increase to at least 10% of global sales, and Mercedes-Benz wants to be at the forefront of that evolution.
The Mercedes Modular Platform
Did you know that EV cars are actually much easier to produce than vehicles that use internal combustion? That’s because you have a lot fewer parts needed for the EVs than for regular cars. All you really need to make EV cars are two things: you need a highly modular platform dedicated to EVs, and you also need a dependable supply of batteries.
Mercedes-Benz knows about these 2 requirements, which is why they’re already building a second factory to build their batteries. They also have completed their EV platform and the plan is to use it to build at least 10 different electric car models by 2025.
The architecture is scalable and modular, and Mercedes can now manufacture a whole lineup of different models of electric cars from compact cars to S-Classes on the platform. That’s mostly because all these EVs will use axle-integrated motors. They’ll also use the same battery cells, with all the current chemistries for annual performance improvements.
Mercedes can expand the battery along all 3 dimensions, yet the batteries will always be enclosed within the chassis. This keeps the weight of the car low (which is important for speed and range) while the layout results in a flat cabin floor that automobile interior designers will appreciate.
In the Mercedes-Benz hierarchy, Jürgen Schenk is the director of the Daimler EV program, and he has stated that the energy density of the EV batteries continue to improve by about 14% every year. The new batteries won’t be damaged by fast charging, and it will help that Daimler is committed to put up more supercharger stations in the future. In about 85% of all electric commutes, the distance is for 60 miles or less, so Daimler plans to have a supercharger accessible for every 18 miles of busy roads.
The new cars will be ready for DC charging right from the beginning. There should also be no compatibility issues (such as a Ford car unable to charge at a charging station built by Daimler), because most brands will use the same plug design. The CCS plug standard can already be seen in cars made by Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Hyundai, and FCA.
With DC charging, companies are also now aiming for a 300 kW charging rate, which can put an end to tedious hours of waiting to get a full charge. The new Electric Smart can fully recharge in just 2.5 hours and give you a range of 99 miles. In the future, the charging rate may be so fast that it will take only as long as you normally would need to fill up an empty fuel tank.
The weight of the batteries will also improve as well, especially when the EV industry switches from the usual lithium-ion batteries to alternatives based on sulfur. This new battery design will not only provide more power, but it will also result in the reduction of the battery weight. It’s foreseen than an S-class today may need a battery that weighs as much as 1650 pounds, but in the future it may only need a battery weighing in at a paltry 1100 pounds (or even less).
Of course, MB isn’t focusing entirely on electric vehicles. Their AMG division is planning to launch up to 48 different models in the next few years. AMG may be moving towards hybrid platforms, but many of these new models will still use the conventional internal combustion engine. However, AMG is also developing a future marketing campaign that can make electric engines seem just as cool as their hand-built V-8 counterparts.
The same goes for the Maybach. The lineup will grow with new models based on the S-Class, and they’ll probably come mostly with V-12 engines.
Mercedes-Benz is covering all their bases, it seems. While it hasn’t abandoned conventional cars just yet, they’re fairly certain that more EVs will be sold in the future. They’re also betting that many of these cars will carry the Mercedes-Benz badge.