The G-Wagen becomes an E-Wagen: Mercedes reveals Concept EQG
Everyone's favorite small block of flats on wheels will be going battery-electric. Mercedes-Benz has released a new Concept EQG, a "near-production study" on what an electric G-Wagen will look like, without losing its off-road capabilities.
Not that the Kardashians of this world will care about wading depth or approach angles. But hey, look guys, it's got pretty light bar accents going down the sides, a full luxury interior and a bunch of "squircles" in the black panel where the grille used to be! You can probably get a handbag to match.
There is no pretending any more that this isn't a chariot for fashion victims; witness the sad spectacle hanging off the rear cargo door, where once it made practical sense to mount a spare tire. The tire has found a new home inside the vehicle, but it's become such an iconic style element for the Gucci set that here it remains, a vestigial tail like the human coccyx, useful only as a lockable box for stuff you don't want to lock in your car. Mercedes doesn't know what to do with it either, suggesting maybe you can stick your charging cable in there or something.
Still, clearly aware that its primary draw is among young urban socialites, Mercedes doggedly presses ahead, envisaging the EQG as an "uncompromising off-roader," and as such it's kept the ladder frame and dedicated an electric motor to each wheel for total 4WD flexibility and control. The front wheels are on individual suspension, the rear wheels are on a solid axle, and the suspension has been designed specifically for all-electric implementation.
The company also says it's putting together "a shiftable 2-speed gearbox" to give it a proper low-range off-road mode. It'll be interesting to see how that gets implemented; does each motor get its own 2-speed gearbox, or is this really more of a throttle curve programming thing? Electrics tend to have abundant torque available at low revs, so a driving experience equivalent to a low-speed gearbox might be possible just by switching throttle and regen braking settings in a new software drive mode.
The electric G-Wagen won't get any passes on performance once it reaches production; it'll have to perform the same off-road testing the rest of the 463 series goes through on Austria's Schöckl mountain, complete with 60 percent gradient climbs and descents. Here, Mercedes believes the low-slung weight of the underfloor battery packs may provide an advantage, helping to lower the car's center of gravity.
That had better be a big battery pack; existing G-Wagens deliver dismal gas mileage due to their sheer size, weight and brutally boxy shape, which allows them to slice through the air exactly the way a knife doesn't, to paraphrase Douglas Adams. The G-Wagen's drag coefficient of 0.54 earns it the #4 slot in this list of the least aerodynamic cars ever made, and since the shape won't be changing substantially other than a smoother grille and some fig-leaf wheel covers, the electric G-Wagen is going to suck electrons hard on the highway.
It's unlikely to matter. The shape of this thing is the point for many of today's buyers, and Mercedes-Benz isn't going to throw that out the window when it moves from "electric first" to "electric only," "wherever market conditions permit ... by the end of the decade," in the heavily conditional words of Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche.
Enjoy a retro-futurist take on electric mobility in the short promo video below.