Tuesday, June 6, 2023

3 Ways the Mercedes-Benz Electric G-Wagen Is Changing EVs Forever


The Geländewagen is getting an electric makeover and EVs might never be the same.

A fully electric version of Mercedes-Benz’s luxury, off-road G-Class, colloquially known as the G-Wagen, is expected to launch in 2024.  

Featuring four electric motors, the Mercedes EQG will have the same iconic boxy exterior and round headlights as the combustion G-Class. 

“The G-Wagen has cult status, it’s just unique,” Ola Källenius, the company’s CEO recently said. “The G will always remain a G. It’s not on a platform. It’s its own vehicle. Full stop. And it will remain its own vehicle.”

The Mercedes G-Wagen goes electric

The electric SUV is in line with the German car giant’s plan of going all-electric by 2030. 

“We really want to go for it, and be dominantly, if not all electric, by the end of the decade,” Ola Källenius, the company’s CEO, told Reuters.

Developed in the early 1970s as a military vehicle, the gas-powered G-Wagen averages only about 14 miles per gallon and is one of the most polluting vehicles on the road today. 

The electric G-Wagen is expected in 2024 | Courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Those eager to get their hands on an electric Geländewagen can expect an MSRP of around $150,000.

But technically, the Mercedes EQG won’t be the first electric G-Class to hit city streets.

In 2017, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger showed off his customized electric G-Wagen, on an episode of CNBC’s ‘Jay Leno’s Garage.’ The SUV was modified for a whopping $1 million by Kreisel Electric, an Austrian car customizing company.

“I want to prove to the world that it is not the car that is [pollutive].” Schwarzenegger said at the time, “it is the technology under the hood that is the polluter.” 

Changing the EV landscape

In terms of the global shift to electrification, the new, electric G-Class is expected to be a game changer. 

“I think what we’re now seeing on this journey to complete zero emission, and we’re saying let’s go there as quickly as we can—even though it is a 10+-year journey—if we look at how that is developing now, right now as we sit here in 2022, we are now beyond the early adopter phase and we are starting the mass adoption phase,” Källenius explained.

Here are just a few ways the electric Geländewagen is taking the lead.

electric car batteries
Group14 Technologies is looking to scale up production of its lithium-silicon battery materials. | Chuttersnap/Unsplash

1. Better batteries

The electric SUV will have an option that features next-generation battery technology produced using 100 percent renewable energy, according to Mercedes-Benz. The company partnered with California-based startup Sila, an engineered materials company, to use silicon anode chemistry batteries that will increase energy efficiency by about 20 to 40 percent.

“We’re looking at some exciting technologies there with silicone anodes,” Ola Källenius, the company’s CEO said. “We will have one high energy-density battery cell that we’re working on for this vehicle. And the powertrain itself will be, from a performance point of view, phenomenal.”

virgil abloh mercedes benz
Late designer Virgil Abloh worked with Mercedes-Benz on the G-Class Project Geländewagen in 2020 | Courtesy

2. And battery recycling, too

Mercedes-Benz isn’t just working to make the batteries more sustainable themselves. It also has a battery recycling plant in the works. 

The car maker is currently building a facility in Germany, which will use some of the “best recycling technology” to salvage precious metals. “We could get north of 90 percent recycling quota out of those once we get them out of service,” Källenius explained. 

mercedes-benz G-Wagen
Courtesy Tim Meyer | Unsplash

3. Better performance on and off the road

Källenius was able to test drive the electric SUV on the company’s off-road facility near Graz, Austria, which features a “pretty comprehensive terrain.” “We walked out of the car and were like, from now on going off-road is electric,” he said.  

“It is mind-blowing. I know I’m raising expectations here…but it was so competent, so easy to drive it,” he continued. “It will have phenomenal performance on and off the road coupled with the most energy-dense battery that we can find in a vehicle that is slightly aerodynamically challenged.”

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