Tesla has proven over the years that its EVs are some of the top choices on the market when it comes to efficiency. Most luxury rivals' electric vehicles aren't nearly as frugal, and they often aren't as quick or powerful as Tesla's. However, Mercedes-Benz has a "tool" it may be able to use to change that, and it's planning to go with it.
In order to speed up electric vehicle development times all while increasing efficiency to Tesla's levels, Mercedes aims to enlist its Formula One racing team into the engineering process. According to Reuters, by following this path, the German luxury automaker believes it can produce highly efficient mass-market EVs and reduce development times by a quarter. Mercedes Chief Technology Officer Markus Schaefer shared:
“We have an edge here with Formula One that others don’t have. Tesla doesn’t have it. Other teams don’t have it.”
Mercedes has already brought several compelling EVs to market, and there are many more in the pipeline. However, it doesn't yet have a highly efficient option that's more along the lines of the mainstream, such as the Tesla Model 3. Tesla's electric saloon, as well as its crossover cousin – the Model Y – have taken sales away from luxury automakers' petrol-powered cars and SUVs, but that could stand to change if brands like Mercedes can bring competing models to market sooner rather than later.
Mercedes showed off its ridiculously efficient EQXX concept car last year, which it claimed could travel 1,200 km (745 miles) on a single charge. Interestingly, it was developed in partnership with Mercedes' Formula One team, and it took only 18 months to develop.
As more and more legacy brands and emerging startups bring EVs to market, it's becoming sort of a race. Whichever companies can produce compelling EVs with respectable range, reasonable prices, and widespread availability stand to come out ahead. Now is arguably a better time than any for Mercedes to quickly move in this new direction.
Mercedes already has plans to use some of its Formula One team's engineering and development concepts for a brand-new purpose-built EV platform that will begin production in 2024. It will be highly aerodynamic and use some of the powertrain and software components from the EQXX concept car.
Adam Allsopp, an HPP advanced technology director, was the man who helped Mercedes get the EQXX project off the ground. He explains that making more efficient EVs allows automakers to use smaller batteries, which reduces weight and cost. Not to mention, it's better for the environment. Allsopp said:
“Just throwing batteries at something is not an intelligent solution. If you find clever ways to achieve the same range: it’s better for customers, carmakers and the planet.”
The EQXX – which is proof Mercedes and Formula One have what it takes to make this future plan happen – has a battery that's half the size of the one in the Mercedes EQS SUV, and it's still able to travel over 700 miles, using about 8.3 kWh of energy per 100 kilometres travelled. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3 uses about 16 kWh, according to Reuters.