The Mercedes EQA electric concept car on show outside the Zoetrope sculpture at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Mercedes EQA electric concept car on show outside the Zoetrope sculpture at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Picture: SUPPLIED

As recently as a few weeks ago the new Mercedes-Benz EQC, the brand’s first of a series of fully electric models, was unveiled.

With the aim of producing more than 10 electric cars by 2022, MBSA has also confirmed that a first edition of the all-electric EQC SUV will go on sale in SA by March 2019 and, in anticipation of the milestone, the local subsidiary brought an electric car to showcase in Cape Town last week to introduce its electric future. It wasn’t the new EQC, but the EQA concept car that was launched at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Thankfully, the naming strategy is less befuddling than in Merc’s regular ranges. EQ denotes Electric Intelligence and will underpin the full-electric range while the subsequent letter, in this case the A, signifies a member of the brand’s compact ranges as in A-Class.

Essentially, the EQA concept represents an electric A-Class. A new electric aesthetic with new light technology with laser fibres gives the EQA an interesting face. The design is said to invoke the copper windings of an electric motor complete with the animation of electrical impulses.

In concept form the EQA is outrageously long for a two-door car, almost the length of an E-Class. It’s a striking design with a wide stance and a low roofline. There is no cabin to speak of in this concept but we will see much of the mix of core Mercedes design tastes and tech in the production car, such as the dual-digital screen dash layout and MBUX operating system.

With their long battery ranges and striking hi-tech styling, Merc’s EQ cars aim to convert customers to the electric side. Picture: SUPPLIED
With their long battery ranges and striking hi-tech styling, Merc’s EQ cars aim to convert customers to the electric side. Picture: SUPPLIED

The production car that will roll off the Mercedes-Benz plant in Hambach, France — one of a number of global factories that will produce MB electric vehicles — is likely to shrink in size. Perhaps not by much but, lest we forget, electric drivetrains are substantial and the bulk may be handy for housing the lithium-ion battery with pouch cells which will give the EQA a driving range of about 400km.

Imagine the EQA along the abilities of the GLA: a vehicle with a hybrid of uses for city driving and sprinkling of offroad ability with its electric motors — one mounted on each axle for an all-wheel drive powertrain.

Mercedes-Benz says we should expect the EQA to produce above 200kW in output and have two drive programmes, Sport and Sport Plus, with the ability to distribute torque between the axles. Furthermore, and it would be a fantastic feature to have in production form, Mercedes-Benz says the digital black panel grille of the EQA concept car changes its look according to the selected drive programmes.

Expect the EQA and other Mercedes-Benz EQ ranges to arrive in this market, and MBSA has already begun preparations and solutions to deal with electric-car ownership.

Johannes Fritz, co-CEO of MBSA, says that the EV uptake has been slow and has a niche appeal locally, so initially the company intends collaborating with other brands on a charging infrastructure rather than building its own.

Household charging will take place at a regular wall socket, with fast induction or wall-box chargers envisaged to charge in 10 minutes for a 100km range. Public speed-chargers will be able to inject 80%-100% charge in about 45 minutes.

For EV owners in Cape Town, Mercedes-Benz has collaborated with designer Es Devlin to install an interactive design sculpture known as Zoetrope at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. While waiting for your Mercedes-Benz to charge at Silo Square, you can pop into the sculpture, which is positioned near the charging stations below. The sculpture takes the form of a maze that comprises a steel frame structure clad in concrete panels.

Aligned to Mercedes-Benz EQ visions of zero emissions, the sculpture is off the grid and uses solar power to produce 11.4kW of energy with which it powers the audio visual equipment used inside.

The concept is to mirror a journey through Cape Town in both physical and cultural terms. The grand idea is a global network of solar-powered pavilions specific to their locations.

© Business Day

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