Mercedes-Benz plans to offer a carbon-neutral car fleet in less than 20 years through its ‘Ambition 2039’ strategy. As part of this, more than half of its cars will feature some sort of electrification – powertrains that are either pure electric or plug-in hybrid – by 2030. The company made a significant step in that direction with the introduction of the EQS sedan, an S-Class-like battery electric vehicle. Two models will be available initially in the U.S.: the rear-wheel-drive EQS 450+ with 329 horsepower, and the AWD EQS 580 4MATIC with 516 horsepower. Mercedes-EQ, the company’s electric brand, hints that future plans include a performance version with up to 630 horsepower. It doesn’t take much imagination to see AMG badges on that one.
The EQS has exterior dimensions similar to the current S-Class, but it is a wholly new vehicle based on a modular platform that Mercedes-EQ will use to underpin other luxury and executive-class vehicles. Because there’s no internal combustion engine in front, and with the battery housed in a crash-protected area in the chassis, stylists were free to create a cab-forward body design with a coupe-like greenhouse and short front and rear overhangs. Special attention was paid to the sedan’s aerodynamics, not only for efficiency but also for interior sound management. The resulting coefficient of drag is as low as .20 with the use of Euro-spec 19-inch wheels and the suspension lowered in Sport mode.
Powering the standard EQS is an electric propulsion system with a permanent synchronous motor (called eATS by Mercedes) at the rear axle. EQS 4MATIC models have a second eATS at the front axle. A new generation lithium-ion battery with significantly higher energy density powers these motors. The largest of those batteries has an energy content of 107.8 kWh and is managed by software designed to receive over-the-air (OTA) updates so the EQS remains up-to-date throughout its lifecycle. Mercedes-EQ is warrantying the battery to retain 70 percent of its capacity for 10 years or 155,000 miles.
The EQS suspension is like the conventional S-Class and consists of a four-link front axle and multi-link rear axle. Airmatic air suspension, which reduces the overall ride height at high speeds for aerodynamic efficiency, is standard equipment. Four-wheel steering is also standard and available in two versions. When the largest rear-steering angle is ordered (and unlocked using an OTA update), the turning circle of the EQS shortens to a compact-car-like 35 feet.
Performance statistics are impressive: 4-second 0-60 acceleration times for the 4MATIC version, range of nearly 480 miles (as measured by the more favorable European WLTP test procedure), and the ability to add quick energy to the battery for an additional 185 miles in just 15 minutes when using a fast-charge station.
Performance data, while an important yardstick for any new car, is just a small part of the appeal of the EQS. This is a luxury car, after all, and a Mercedes at that. Mercedes’ engineers have designed so many features into this vehicle – literally something for each of the five senses, save taste – that it took more than 60 pages of press briefing materials to document it all.
For instance, the EQS emits its own fragrance, while the HEPA filters in the optional Energizing Air Control system scrub incoming air. The ‘driving sound experience’ includes not only a Burmester surround-sound system with programmable soundscapes but also Forest Glade, Sound of the Sea, and Summer Rain calming sounds, produced for the EQS in conjunction with a consulting acoustic ecologist. Optional Automatic Comfort doors will open the driver’s door upon approach, close it when the brake pedal is depressed, and allow the driver to open any of the other doors to ease passenger entry. Some 350 on-board sensors and the sedan’s artificial intelligence monitor sense, and learn from, everything from ambient and road conditions to the driver’s eyelid movements. If the EQS reads a driver’s eyes as sleepy, it will sound an alert. Once it’s parked safely at a rest stop, the EQS has a Power Nap program that will recline the driver’s seat, close the side windows and panorama roof sunshade, dim the lights, and activate air ionization.
One of the most innovative features of the EQS interior is the optional Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) Hyperscreen. Instead of a traditional dashboard and instrument panel, the Hyperscreen is a continual piece of convex glass, stretching from A-pillar to A-pillar, that covers three separate screens, including a 12.3-inch OLED screen in front of the front-seat passenger. Adaptive software in the MBUX programming will suggest infotainment and vehicle functions, and it is the home of the ‘Hey, Mercedes!’ voice assistant feature. MBUX is also used to access EQS Navigation with Electric Intelligence, which not only plans routes but calculates energy demands for the trip, taking into consideration traffic conditions and even changes in driving style along the way. It then plans charging station stops and even determines the lengths of time required at each stop for optimal charging.
Helping to optimize range are several energy recovery options the driver can choose from, including automatic energy recovery during deceleration or braking and three levels of deceleration that can be manually selected via the shift paddles. Also assisting efficiency is ECO Assist, described as ‘situation-optimized energy recovery,’ that results in deceleration so strong it allows one-pedal driving.
As one would expect given the high level of technological sophistication built into the EQS, it is equipped with a long list of driver-assist and safety features, with a Power Nap program among them. The Driver Assist Package includes Active Distance Assist to maintain a pre-set distance from vehicles ahead, Active Steering Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Change Assist, and Emergency Stop Assist that recognizes when the driver is not responding to traffic situations. Also included is Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, Active Blind Spot Assist, and Evasive Steering Assist, the latter helping the driver avoid a pedestrian or another vehicle. A Parking Package with Surround View system helps the driver park in tight situations, even activating four-wheel steering as needed. Drive Away assist will alert the driver if it senses a potential collision as the EQS starts off.
As technically groundbreaking as it is, the EQS sedan itself is just one facet of Mercedes’ Ambition 2039 goal of carbon neutrality. Each EQS is produced following carbon-neutral practices including the use of recycled materials, from the steel in its body to the yarn in its carpets. The roof of the factory that produces the EQS is covered with photovoltaic cells that produce about 30 percent of the factory’s energy needs. When EQS owners charge their sedans using the Mercedes me Charge app, all the energy comes from renewable resources. The production of lithium-ion batteries at Mercedes’ Hedelfingen plant will also be CO2 neutral in 2022.