In the new millennium, the Mercedes G-Class has gone through various transformations, from sporty AMG variants to rugged 4×4² and 6×6 models, armored Guard variants, and even regal Landaulet editions. Now, as the automotive world shifts toward zero-emission vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is unveiling a new facet of the G-Class: a clean and sophisticated one, as previewed by the Mercedes EQG concept.
Back in October 2020, during the Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update 2020 event, the company officially confirmed its plans to introduce a fully electric G-Class. The electric G-Class that made its debut at the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021) is a concept, but the production model, set to launch in the coming year, is expected to closely resemble it. Here’s what we know about this upcoming German electric off-roader.
The Mercedes EQG concept, officially known as the Mercedes Concept EQG, represents a modified version of the second-generation Mercedes G-Class, featuring distinctive EV-inspired design elements and a completely different electric powertrain. Notable exterior changes include a two-tone color scheme with gloss black on the upper portion and gloss aluminum on the lower part, a black panel radiator grille with an illuminated star, an animated squircle pattern surrounding the star, an illuminated band running along the edges of the vehicle, 22-inch EV-style wheels, and a lockable box inspired by EV wallbox chargers in place of the spare wheel cover.
The design philosophy of the second-gen G-Class emphasizes evolutionary changes, maintaining the original character while incorporating progressive updates. This approach aligns with customer preferences, which favor preserving the iconic G-Class look rather than adopting a low-slung aerodynamic design. The EQG concept reaffirms this expectation by closely resembling the regular model.
Although the EQG shares much of its bodywork with the current gas-powered G-Class, there are subtle differences, as reported by Autocar on September 15, 2023. Dr. Emmerich Schiller, CEO of Mercedes-Benz G and Head of the Off-Road Vehicle Division at Mercedes-Benz, mentioned that these modifications may not be immediately obvious but will significantly enhance aerodynamics. Many of the EQG’s aerodynamic improvements will also benefit the facelifted version of the gas-powered G-Class, which is concurrently in development and expected to follow shortly.
Mercedes-Benz plans to conduct extensive global testing of the EQG before it hits the market, ensuring its performance meets expectations. Prototypes of the EQG are frequently spotted undergoing testing in various locations, particularly in Germany and Austria, where engineers are conducting a wide range of tests to fine-tune the electric SUV.
Recently, a camouflaged EQG prototype was captured near Mercedes-Benz Group’s Sindelfingen production facility in Germany. This location is strategically close to Magna Steyr’s engineering center, which is responsible for producing the upcoming electric vehicle. It’s highly likely that the test mule was returning from this nearby engineering center.
The prototype displayed some distinct differences in its front fascia compared to the regular G-Class. These changes included an almost fully covered upper grille with two thin openings on either side of the brand logo, a modified lower air intake, and curvier side air inlets. However, it’s important to note that much of this camouflage and design disguise is likely intentional, and the final production design may differ significantly.
Recent spy photos of the production Mercedes EQG suggest that its interior closely resembles that of the concept model. Some notable differences include a new steering wheel design, reminiscent of the AMG Performance steering wheel with a double-spoke layout, possibly available as an option in the AMG Line or the AMG variant. The climate control panel appears cleaner and draws design inspiration from the new A-Class and new CLA, albeit with different knurls. Additionally, the touchpad seems larger and slimmer than before.
A notable change in the interior layout is the presence of a ‘G-Turn’ switch where the gas-powered G-Class has its rear differential lock switch. The purpose of this switch is explained in more detail below. In the center, there’s a switch to enable low-range gearing, which is particularly useful in the ‘Creeper’ drive mode, essentially functioning as a low-speed cruise control for off-roading. To the left of this switch, where the gas model houses its front differential lock switch, the electric EQG features a switch that hints at another intriguing capability. When asked about this switch during a test drive of an EQG prototype, the response was, “That’s for another day.”
Similar to the F-150 Lightning, the Mercedes EQG is essentially a conversion of the second-gen G-Class, originally an ICE model. Mercedes-Benz Group has chosen this approach to control development and production costs while preserving the iconic off-road capabilities and expediting its entry into the market. Consequently, the Electric G-Wagon may not offer some of the advanced features found in vehicles developed as EVs from the ground up. Expectations for features like a frunk, a flat floor, or the Hyperscreen display should be kept in check.
In November 2022, select publications had the opportunity to ride in early prototypes of the Mercedes EQG, with Autocar being among them. Dr. Emmerich Schiller, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz G, described the electric G-Class as having “two skateboards with the same hat on top.” He emphasized that, like the donor model, “the body is connected to the ladder frame at eight points.” Dr. Schiller also disclosed that the EQG’s weight is below 3,500 kg (7,716 lbs).
The Mercedes EQG is set to offer both triple-motor and quad-motor powertrain options, although it’s important to highlight that only the quad-motor configuration has received official confirmation. While the quad-motor setup is expected to be premium and power-demanding, it has become evident more recently that a triple-motor powertrain will also be part of the lineup.
Unlike the triple-motor setup in the GMC Hummer EV SUV, which features two motors at the rear and one at the front, spy photos suggest that the triple-motor EQG will have two motors at the front and one at the rear. This configuration was reported by InsideEVs.com on March 15, 2023.
While it would be convenient to have a simpler, more range-oriented version with just two motors, either as an alternative to the triple-motor variant or in addition to it, it’s unlikely that three different drivetrain layouts would be economically feasible for a niche product like the EQG, even if it offers substantial profit margins similar to the gas-powered G-Class.
Regarding the quad-motor EQG, it will adopt a configuration that replicates the functionality of the G-Class’ three 100-percent differential locks. This setup is expected to be exclusive to the Mercedes-AMG EQG. Mercedes-AMG has not yet confirmed whether conventional motors or in-wheel hub motors will be used. “We will mount four electric motors very close to the wheels,” stated Mercedes-AMG CEO Michael Schiebe during a media drive for the S 63 E Performance, as reported by Motor Authority on June 22, 2023.
The potential addition of in-wheel hub motors could introduce unsprung weight to the EQG’s wheels, impacting ride quality. However, Mercedes-Benz AMG has access to axial-flux motor technology, thanks to its acquisition of British electric-motor specialist YASA in July 2021. Axial-flux motors are significantly lighter and more compact than radial-flux motors. Mercedes-Benz Group plans to produce these motors in-house at the Berlin-Marienfelde factory and intends to use them in the forthcoming powertrain for the performance segment.
According to Autocar, Mercedes-Benz has positioned the motors that power the EQG’s front wheels low on each side within the front axle. The rear motors have been integrated further inward within the rear axle. This rear axle is a specially developed de Dion unit designed specifically for the EQG.
These motors transfer power to their respective wheels through a two-speed gearbox featuring a low-range gear ratio. The driver will have the option to choose from seven different drive modes, including four specifically tailored for off-road use: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Trail, Rock, Sand, and Creeper. The ability to route all power to a single wheel could prove useful in challenging off-road scenarios. Dr. Schiller emphasized the “incredibly precise” power distribution between the wheels.
Similar to the Mercedes Vision EQXX, the EQG will be equipped with a battery pack boasting an energy storage capacity of approximately 100 kWh, as confirmed by Dr. Schiller. This battery pack represents a novel development with notably high energy density, necessitating cells with a substantial silicon content.
On April 4, 2023, Sila Nanotechnologies unveiled Titan Silicon, a nano-composite (NCS) anode. Sila Nanotechnologies asserted that conventional graphite anodes and simple silicon compounds (Si, SiO, SiO2) for Li-ion batteries have reached their performance limits. Titan Silicon is presented as the solution to enhance EV performance at present. It claims that the new silicon anode can potentially increase the range of EVs by up to 20%, which could translate to an additional 100 miles for certain models. Additionally, it can reduce the 10-80% charging time from as long as 60 minutes to just 20 minutes, trim the battery weight by 15%, and provide a 20% reduction in space requirements.
The Mercedes EQG will incorporate a battery pack comprised of high-energy density cells developed by Sila Nanotechnologies, a California-based company. This announcement aligns with the partnership already established between the American next-generation battery materials company and the German automaker for the EQG’s battery anodes.
On May 17, 2022, Sila Nanotechnologies and Mercedes-Benz jointly announced that the all-electric G-Class would utilize Sila’s silicon anode chemistry. This technology is expected to yield a 20-40% increase in energy density, exceeding 800 Wh/l at the cell level. According to Motortrend, Källenius stated that the EQG would feature the most energy-dense battery in a vehicle.
The advantage of enhanced energy density lies in Mercedes-Benz’s ability to meet range requirements without the need for larger battery packs. Sila Nanotechnologies’ innovative anode will enable the storage of more energy within the same space, resulting in increased range without additional weight.
The advanced silicon anode materials will be produced using 100% clean energy at Sila Nanotechnologies’ facility in Washington state. Mercedes-Benz G is the factory’s first publicly announced customer.
Considering the EQG’s substantial weight as a frame SUV, an energy-dense battery will prove advantageous. Mercedes-Benz G is likely to ensure that the EQG can achieve a range exceeding 300 miles (483 km) on a single charge. The EQG will feature three stages of regenerative braking: D+, D, and D-.
A second battery pack in the works?
As per a report by JESMB published on May 4, 2023, the G-Class EV is expected to offer two distinct types of battery packs. While one variant will incorporate the advanced Titan Silicon anode, details regarding the second battery pack’s type and energy storage capacity remain undisclosed. However, the second option could likely be a less sophisticated unit designed for higher production volumes without disruptions. It may not match the energy efficiency of the advanced battery, potentially resulting in a shorter driving range. Nevertheless, this choice would enable Mercedes-Benz G to introduce the EQG at a more affordable price point.
The JESMB report further indicates that the EQG’s battery pack will be integrated into its ladder frame, ensuring structural integrity. It will be shielded by a 3.4 mm thick steel casing and supported from below by carbon fiber. Currently, there is no information available regarding the charging rate or time for the vehicle’s battery pack. The report notes that JESMB observed a prototype’s battery pack continuing to charge at 80 kW even after reaching a capacity of 90 kWh, although specific details remain undisclosed.
For those curious about the EQG’s towing capabilities, Mercedes-Benz G has disappointing news. As reported by Australia’s Drive on November 23, 2022, it’s unlikely that the EQG will receive a tow rating. Dr. Schiller explained that towing would significantly affect the vehicle’s range, leading the company to be uncertain about offering it in the initial generation.
Mercedes-Benz Group is promising “enormous pulling power and controllability” for the production EQG model. They claim that, similar to the G-Class, the EQG will have “a climbing capacity of up to 100 percent on suitable terrain.” To put it to the test, the company plans to conduct 300 test runs on the 1,445-meter-high Schöckl mountain in Graz, Austria, towards the end of its development.
Ola Källenius, the CEO, had the opportunity to drive an EQG prototype in Graz and was so impressed that he suggested all future off-road-focused Mercedes-Benz models should be electric vehicles (EVs). Speaking at a media roundtable on September 22, 2022, Källenius promised that the electric G-Class would deliver “phenomenal performance on and off the road.”
Mercedes-Benz G has opted for a new material for the battery casing of the EQG, prioritizing safety in off-roading scenarios. Instead of traditional steel, the battery casing is constructed from a combination of steel and a carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer compound. This choice enhances the vehicle’s safety, especially in the event of impacts during off-road adventures.
The electric G-Class features an Off-road Monitor that provides valuable information during off-road excursions. It offers data on damper and spring performance when navigating uneven terrain, assesses the degree of tilt during side-hill driving, and offers other crucial details for off-road enthusiasts.
G-Class-like suspension system
Similar to the G-Class, the EQG is equipped with a double-wishbone suspension in the front and a rigid axle suspension in the rear. Mercedes-Benz G has engineered a new electronic system that allows the driver to simulate the functionality of the G-Class’ three differential locks. This innovation is aimed at ensuring that the EQG maintains the same level of capability as its G-Class counterpart, whether on or off the road.
Tank turn or ‘G-Turn’
Compared to the G-Class, the EQG boasts a smaller turning circle, enabling it to perform a “G-Turn” or tank turn, activated by a button on the dashboard. When engaged, the wheels on one side rotate forward while those on the other side turn backward. The driver can select the desired turning direction using the respective paddle shifter.
While the G-Turn may seem like a novelty feature to most customers, it offers practical benefits for those who take their EQG on off-road adventures. It allows for safe maneuvering in tight situations, providing the ability to make a 360-degree turn on its own axis. Mercedes-Benz G has hinted at at least one more surprise feature for the electric G-Class, but they are keeping it under wraps for now.
On April 1, 2021, Mercedes-Benz Group filed trademark applications with the EU trademark office for potential names for the Mercedes EQG, including EQG 560 and EQG 580. The company had previously registered the EQG name with EUIPO in 2016 and holds the trademark. On April 3, 2022, it introduced the use of the 580 designation on a Mercedes EQS variant, the EQS 580 4MATIC+. In August 2021, Mercedes-Benz Group submitted EQG 560 and EQG 580 trademark applications with the Australian, Canadian, American, and WIPO trademark offices. As of November 24, 2021, the status of these applications in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. is ‘Pending,’ while WIPO has approved the application.
Mercedes-AMG EQG: Although not officially confirmed, it is likely that an AMG high-performance variant, the Mercedes-AMG EQG, will be part of the planned model lineup. According to information from the Drive report, Dr. Schiller has hinted that its performance would be on par with the 577-hp AMG G 63, capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
On September 3, 2023, during the Pre-Night event for the 2023 Munich Motor Show, Ola Källenius briefly discussed the Mercedes EQG and its anticipated release date:
“The G-Class has been defining off-road capability for more than 40 years. Its iconic shape is built to last. The all-electric G will arrive as early as next year.”
The same day, in a press release for the 2023 Munich Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz Group mentioned that the G-Class EV is just months away from its global debut.
During a media roundtable held on September 22, 2022, Källenius provided a more specific release timeframe, stating that the company intends to launch the EQG in the mid-to-late part of 2024. As reported in a Bloomberg article from April 2023, Titan Silicon production is set to commence in late 2024.
During the Q4 2021 results call, Ola Källenius made reference to the G-Class brand, likening the SUV to the ‘Birkin handbag of Mercedes,’ signifying its exclusivity and desirability. He acknowledged that Mercedes-Benz aims to seize this opportunity while being mindful that the strong demand may eventually wane.
To prevent lengthy delivery times from diminishing the model’s allure, Mercedes-Benz plans to judiciously expand production capacity in Graz for the EQG. This approach ensures that the G-Class range remains attractive and accessible for an extended period.
Källenius stated, “We will not go overboard with regard to expansion on the G; we have some quite exciting ideas about how to create different editions of the G that will keep that car very attractive.” He also mentioned the forthcoming electric G-Class, which is expected to further enhance the franchise within the luxury segment of their business.
On May 3, 2023, Kleine Zeitung reported that Mercedes-Benz Group has extended its contract with Magna Steyr to source the G-Class until 2029, originally set to expire in 2025. According to the Austrian newspaper, the contract manufacturer anticipates increasing G-Class production from an estimated 45,000 units in 2023 to 55,000 units in 2024. Additionally, it plans to produce over 10,000 units of the EQG as early as 2024. The highest demand for the G-Class currently comes from Germany, the USA, and China, and these markets are also expected to be prominent for its electric counterpart.
According to a report by Handelsblatt initially published on January 12, 2023, Mercedes-Benz Group is considering removing the ‘EQ’ branding from its electric vehicle (EV) lineup in the future. The company’s goal is to transition to a fully electric fleet by 2030 in markets that permit it, which could make the ‘EQ’ sub-brand redundant. This information was highlighted in the German report.
Subsequently, a report by JESMB dated January 13, 2023, indicated that the G-Class Electric would be the first new electric Mercedes model not to feature the ‘EQ’ nomenclature. Instead, the electrified G-Wagon is expected to debut under the name “Mercedes G 580e.”
When can we expect the Mercedes EQG to be released?
The Mercedes EQG is slated for a market launch in the middle to late part of 2024.
Which vehicles could potentially compete with the upcoming Electric G-Wagon?
The Rivian R1S and the Jeep Recon are prospective competitors that may indirectly challenge the premium Mercedes EQG.
What is the projected price range for the Mercedes EQG?
Anticipated pricing for the all-electric G-Class suggests that it will commence at a figure exceeding USD 150,000 in the U.S. market.
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