Mercedes CLA concept previews "phenomenally efficient" EV

Mercedes Benz CLA Concept 2023 front quarter

The new CLA will be the first in a range of MMA-based models

Entry-level Tesla Model 3 rival will come with Superscreen, 250kW charging and 536bhp AMG variant

Mercedes has shown its hi-tech 466-mile CLA replacement – the Concept CLA –  at the 2023 Munich motor show, just over a year before the production version is set to head to UK showrooms.

The Tesla Model 3 rival will be available with pure electric and combustion engine drivetrains, as well as rear- and four-wheel drive options.

On show is a 223bhp electric variant with rear-wheel drive and a two-speed transmission. Other outputs will include a base level 201bhp variant and a scorching hot dual-motor four-wheel drive AMG model, earmarked for launch in 2025.

Mercedes has confirmed that the new CLA will be the first in a range of MMA (Mercedes Modular Architecture) based models, including next generation Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake, Mercedes EQA and Mercedes EQB, to receive a new type of electric motor developed and produced in house.

In a further development, Mercedes says its third electric saloon will offer the choice of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and Lithium-Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt-Oxide (NMC) batteries, with energy capacity of between 58kWh and 85kWh, Autocar has been told.

The lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) unit pioneers a new construction technique, with its cell modules held in place with adhesive rather than screws for reduced weight and more compact packaging.

Crucially, the new CLA will be the first production car from Mercedes-Benz to support an 800-volt electric architecture, allowing charging at up to 250kW on a rapid DC charger. This enables a 248-mile top-up in just 15 minutes, according to Mercedes.

Additionally, the Concept CLA Class receives bi-directional charging capability, hinting the production version will be able to perform vehicle-to-home (V2H), vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-appliance (V2A) tasks.

The new dedicated electric car platform, electric motor and battery, a combination first previewed by the Mercedes Vision EQXX concept car, provides the Concept CLA Class with what Mercedes’s chief technology officer Markus Schäfer describes as “phenomenal efficiency.”

Mounted within the rear axle assembly, the electric motor and transmission are integrated into one unit weighing less than 110kg, and feature a silicon-carbide inverter that is claimed to contribute to energy efficiency of up to 93% from battery to wheel at a constant cruising speed. This compares to the 89% efficiency of today’s EQA.

In pure-electric guise, the most efficient CLA is claimed to achieve average energy consumption of 5.2 mi/kWh on the WLTP test cycle, giving it a range of up to 466 miles.

The rear-wheel drive Tesla Model 3 Long Range, by comparison, receives an 82kWh battery and possesses a claimed WLTP range of 382 miles.

“The Concept CLA Class represents an entirely new approach for Mercedes-Benz. It incorporates many learnings from our Vision EQXX technology program. Our engineers have maximised efficiency by driving down losses in its 800-volt electric drive system. It also features a high level of integration, enabling excellent energy density.” said Schäfer.

The concept’s exterior builds on the look of today’s CLA with a more contemporary-looking front end, featuring a lower-set black panel grille with an illuminated Mercedes emblem. Newly shaped headlamps are connected by an LED light bar to accentuate the new car’s width and give the new saloon a distinctive night-time graphic.

Along the sides there are frameless doors, a less exaggerated bow to the lower window line and largely unadorned surfacing.

Further back, the signature coupé-like roofline is retained in combination with a heavily angled rear screen, giving the new model a sleek profile. The new saloon also adopts more pronounced haunches over the rear wheels to give it a more confident stance than today’s model.

At the rear, there is a short notchback-style boot lid and a full-width wraparound light bar – with tube-style LED graphics featuring three-pointed star detailing.

Inside, the Concept CLA Class adopts a full-width MBUX Superscreen similar to that used by the Vision EQXX. Set to be retained for the production version, it runs Mercedes-Benz’s new MB.OS operating system.

The new chip-to-cloud architecture, which will support Google Maps navigation among other embedded apps, represents a new approach to in-car infotainment for Mercedes-Benz, which says it will be included in all future models starting with the new CLA.

A further new development showcased by the latest Mercedes-Benz concept is the new CLA’s Level 3 Lidar-based autonomous driving assistance system. It is not initially planned to appear on the new model, which will initially be limited to Level 2 autonomy, but Mercedes plans to offer regular updates via over-the-air software updates, opening the possibility of allowing owners to purchase Level 3 capability in the future.

Additionally, the Concept CLA Class includes a new Child Presence Detection (CPD) system designed to mitigate the risk of young children being left in the car during warm weather. Using sensors and cameras to detect breathing patterns, it is programmed to first warn then ultimately trigger the air conditioning and sound the horn when it detects the presence of a child without an adult.

Source: Autocar

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