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Mercedes-Benz spotlights electric, digital excitements at Auto China show

By YUAN SHENGGAO | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-25 09:10
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From left: Mercedes-Benz's all-new electric G-Class makes its global debut ahead of the Auto China show in Beijing on Wednesday. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

On the heels of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's visit to China two weeks ago, German automakers are ramping up their efforts here, as evidenced by an exhilarating presentation by Mercedes-Benz at Auto China 2024.

Underlying Mercedes' solid development in China's luxury market and featuring 21 models, the company's presence at the April 25 — May 5 show at Beijing's China International Exhibition Center is led by the all-new electric G-Class and the Concept CLA Class, a fleet consisting of one world-premiere model, seven China-premiere models, and eight models that are ready to hit the market. They represent the brand's unchanged focus on new energy vehicles, while at the same time reflect the flexibility to offer various drive trains to meet diverse customer demands.

Firm on electrification

In the top-end market, the electric G-Class is making its world debut as the first of its kind. The model is still an "authentic G-wagon" according to Mercedes, offering "pioneering electric drivetrain technology, unrivalled off-road capabilities and top-end luxury". The Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is the first fully electric model of the top-end luxury brand, while the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance, sporting the extremely powerful E PERFORMANCE hybrid, is the fastest AMG ever, capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in just 2.8 seconds.

Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

"These top-end models are the latest proof of Mercedes-Benz continuing to transition toward electrification," said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

"We are as determined as ever in the transformation toward electrification and digitalization. For the first time ever, our iconic G-Class turns fully electric. That marks a new milestone," said Källenius. "Mercedes-Benz is fully committed to achieving carbon-neutral mobility, and electrification is a key lever for fulfilling this target. With the exciting portfolio at this year's Auto China, we are well positioned to cater to different customer needs, whether it's an all-electric drivetrain or an electrified combustion engine."

The electric G-Class has a CLTC range of around 570 kilometers on a single charge, and is the brand's first all-electric vehicle equipped with a two-speed transmission for maximizing torque while minimizing energy consumption on — and offroad. It has four individually controlled electric motors positioned close to each wheel, each of which has its own transmission which is shifted centrally, providing high-precision torque vectoring and 432kW in power, with 1,164 Nm in peak torque. The innovative drive concept enables unique driving functions for off-road use.

The electric G-Class is also capable of performing a G-Turn, which enables the vehicle to spin around on the spot up to 720 degrees — ideal when there is no room to turn around on an off-road trail. G-Steering dramatically reduces the turning circle when driving off-road or on loose surfaces with one wheel locked.

Additionally, the electric G-Class features an OFF-ROAD CRAWL function when the low range offroad gear reduction is engaged, which provides cruise control for offroad driving and goes forward and reverses in three target speed settings.

Concept CLA and future

Making its debut in China, the Concept CLA Class embodies Mercedes-Benz' latest progress in electrifying and digitalizing the driving experience. Based on the 800v Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) architecture, the concept car has a WLTP range of more than 750 kilometers while consuming only 12 kWh per 100 kilometers. It's touted to be the "one-liter car" in the electric era.

Next year, Mercedes-Benz will launch the MMA architecture and usher in a new stage of electrification. A series of new architectures of MB. EA, AMG. EA and VAN. EA will follow, which will allow the company to offer a fully electric alternative for each model. Also next year, MMA-based models, including a made-for-China longwheelbase version, will be produced at Beijing Benz Automotive Co Ltd, a joint-venture between Mercedes-Benz Group and BAIC Group.

Earlier this year, BBAC celebrated production of its 5 millionth Mercedes-Benz vehicle. When BBAC was established in 2005, its planned production volume was just 25,000 units. Since then, it has rapidly expanded its capacity. It took BBAC just 20 months to increase the total number of produced units from 4 million to 5 million.

Hubertus Troska, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for China, said: "Our over two decades of long-term partnership with the BAIC Group has brewed tremendous success, and the story is set to continue in the next stage of our transformation. We will deepen localization efforts and tailor more, exciting new products and features for Chinese customers."

New stage of local R&D

Local R&D for Mercedes-Benz in China started in 2005, and the company has since gone through three stages of R&D development. The first — "Local R&D, for local production" — started in 2005 with the localization of the E-Class. In 2010, with introduction of the China-exclusive long-wheelbase E-Class, the second stage of "Designed and Developed in China, for China" started. Last week, Mercedes-Benz upgraded its R&D Center Shanghai with the opening of a new building to further strengthen its local innovation of intelligent connected vehicles, and entered the third stage of its local R&D: "Developed in China, innovating for the world."

With China continuing to be a key driver of global innovation, the 2,000-strong local R&D team plays an increasingly important role in Mercedes-Benz's global R&D network. They have been a prime contributor in developing the company's in-house developed operating system — the MB.OS — and have taken the lead in creating infotainment and automated driving features for new models based on the MB. OS. In the future, more features developed in China will be introduced to the global market, such as the rear entertainment system, as well as the new battery pack for PHEVs that was unveiled with the PHEV version of the all-new long-wheelbase E-Class at this year's Auto China.

"Chinese customers love innovative features, and China is a major global innovation power. That's why we have been investing and expanding our footprint in the country. By adapting to China's speed of development and by upholding Mercedes-Benz standards, we will continue to deliver on our promise and demonstrate 'What makes a Mercedes a Mercedes,'" Troska said.

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