Its 400km claimed range on a single charge will get urban shuttle services and hotel transport companies to pay attention. Picture: SUPPLIED
Its 400km claimed range on a single charge will get urban shuttle services and hotel transport companies to pay attention. Picture: SUPPLIED

Mobility is going through the biggest change since Karl Benz first invented the motor car. This was the  statement made by Daimler executive Wilfried Porth at the unveiling of the updated Mercedes-Benz V-Class in Stuttgart.

It’s not a statement that can be argued with given the major changes going on in the automotive industry. Mercedes itself has created its CASE strategy, namely Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric and most of its rivals have similar acronyms defining their new direction.

In the case of electric, Mercedes will launch its EQC electric SUV in SA later this year and that will be followed by the EQA hatch with more to come after that. In some global markets it already has its e-Vito battery-electric van and we have it on good authority that the e-Vito is also planned for the South African market.

Then there will be an e-Sprinter, not surprisingly a battery-electric version of the new Sprinter that launched internationally in 2018. It will go on sale in selected regions later in 2019 and will be followed by a hydrogen fuel cell derivative for even more select markets.

But Porth was on stage to present a variant of the new V-Class, the EQV. It’s a full battery-electric version of the V-Class and it making its public debut this week at the Geneva motor show.

He describes it as an “electric premium MPV” but the main highlight will be the claim that it will have a range of up to 400km. That will get urban shuttle services and hotel transport companies to pay attention.

“It is our idea of a compact MPV of the future,” says Benjamin Kaehler, the head of E-Drive at Mercedes-Benz Vans and known within the company as “Mr E”.

It will have lithium-ion battery capacity of 100kWh, mounted beneath the floor which will provide power to a 150kW electric drive motor.

The high-tech MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) system finds its way into the electric V-Class. Picture: SUPPLIED
The high-tech MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) system finds its way into the electric V-Class. Picture: SUPPLIED

In areas where rapid charging is available, Merc says a supplied quick charging cable will allow up to 100km of range to be added in just 15 minutes, something that will work out well for shuttle drivers waiting to pick up clients at an airport or a venue.

We spoke with the V-Class designer Bertrand Janssen at its unveiling and he pointed out that they have kept the overall look of the EQV similar to that of its internal combustion-engined stablemates. However, the front of the vehicle gets an EQ family look with a black panel in place of the traditional grille as well as unique headlights.

According to Janssen, 90% of the production version will be the same as the concept.

"The EQ design idiom provides the vehicle with its unmistakeable appearance and has some impressively progressive shapes", says Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Daimler. "And in the interior, too, the cool aesthetics of the exterior continue, being supplemented by warm accents, like those in rose gold, which underline the whole "Welcome Home" effect. The focus in the cockpit of our concept EQV is on the new and intuitive MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) system.”

That system is part of the connectivity package that will make the EQV part of the brand’s EQ network. This means tech including a wide range of apps and optimal navigation that aims to ensure maximum range depending on geography and traffic.

When it goes into production, the EQV will be available with a variety of seating configurations, as is the V-Class. This will include a full seven or eight-seat option or a more luxurious six-seater with individual seats for luxury transfer or more relaxed family travel.

Much of the focus at the moment is on electric mobility in passenger cars, particularly when it comes to ride-sharing services, but the EQV will add a new dimension to this. It’s not likely to be taking tourists to Kruger Park due to its range, but as an urban and transfer solution, it is likely to find a market as the interest in electric vehicles grows.