Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class: Glimpse at innovative small EV tech with impressive 466-mile range

The Munich motor show recently witnessed the debut of the Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class, serving as the stage for unveiling the enhanced electric vehicle (EV) technology slated for the upcoming line of compact EVs from the renowned German luxury brand. Much of the Concept CLA’s technological innovation can be attributed to its roots in the Vision EQXX, a vehicle aimed at optimizing EV efficiency.

Expected to give rise to various versions, including a wagon (referred to as a shooting brake) and a pair of SUVs, this coupe-like four-door sedan has the potential to replace the EQA and EQB-Class models, as well as their gasoline counterparts, the GLA and GLB-Class.

A pivotal feature of the Concept CLA-Class is its groundbreaking utilization of Mercedes’ latest Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) platform. Originally designed for EVs, this platform holds the potential to support internal combustion engines, potentially in hybrid configurations.

Furthermore, the concept provides valuable insights into an evolving battery system. Buyers will have the choice between two battery chemistries: the familiar lithium-iron-phosphate design and a novel silicon-oxide-anode design boasting superior energy density. The latter is not only smaller but also affixed with adhesive, lighter, and stiffer compared to conventional lithium batteries.

What sets the Concept CLA apart is its advanced 800-volt electrical architecture, a departure from the 400-volt systems used in previous Mercedes EVs. This advancement enables the silicon-oxide battery to recharge up to 248 miles in just 15 minutes using a DC fast charger with a capacity of up to 250 kW.

Furthermore, the vehicle boasts support for bidirectional charging, enabling both vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home connectivity. Mercedes touts the impressive capabilities of the new battery, promising a remarkable range of up to 466 miles while maintaining outstanding efficiency at 5.2 miles per kilowatt-hour (kw/hr).

Under the hood, the Concept CLA employs a powertrain initially designed for the EQXX, featuring a rear-mounted permanently excited synchronous motor generating 235 horsepower, paired with a 2-speed transmission. This powertrain is relatively lightweight, weighing around 243 pounds, and boasts an efficiency of up to 93% in long-distance driving.

In terms of exterior design, the Concept CLA retains some elements from previous CLA generations but embraces a more tech-oriented aesthetic, especially evident in its lighting. The headlights and taillights mimic the Mercedes star logo, while the grille showcases 264 miniature Mercedes stars and a central star logo.

Inside the cabin, you’ll find the Mercedes Superscreen, spanning the entire width of the dashboard and integrating both analog and digital controls for the climate system. A floating center console creates storage space below it, while the MB.OS processor manages the vehicle’s electronics.

The interior features eco-friendly materials, including recycled PET plastic fabric, coffee bean shell-tanned nappa leather, artificial silk, bamboo floor mats, and treated paper trim elements. An improved heat pump efficiently heats the interior using ambient and drivetrain-heated air.

Regarding safety and driver assistance, the Concept CLA boasts SAE Level 2 driver-assistance systems and plans to incorporate Lidar technology into the production version. SAE Level 3 self-driving capabilities are on the horizon, pending local regulations, along with a rear seat child detection system.

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