The Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class made its debut at the Munich motor show, showcasing the upgraded EV technology that will be featured in the next generation of small EVs from the German luxury brand. Derived from the Vision EQXX, a car designed to explore greater EV efficiency, the Concept CLA-Class features several advanced technologies.
The Concept CLA-Class is presented as a coupe-like four-door sedan, but Mercedes also announced that it will launch a wagon version (known as a shooting brake) and a pair of SUVs. These SUVs are expected to replace the EQA- and EQB-Class models, as well as their gas counterparts, the GLA- and GLB-Class.
What sets the Concept CLA-Class apart is its use of the new Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) platform. This platform has been developed specifically for EVs but can also support internal combustion engines, likely in hybrid configurations.
One of the key highlights of the Concept CLA-Class is its battery system. Mercedes is currently developing a battery system that will offer buyers a choice between two battery chemistries. The first is the familiar lithium-iron-phosphate design, while the second is a new silicon-oxide-anode design that promises better energy density. Mercedes claims that the silicon-oxide battery has a smaller volume, is lighter and stiffer than the lithium battery, and is held together with adhesive instead of screws.
The Concept CLA-Class also features an 800-volt electrical architecture, which is an improvement over the previous 400-volt systems used in Mercedes EVs. This architecture enables the silicon-oxide battery to recover up to 248 miles in just 15 minutes on a DC fast charger pushing up to 250 kW. The vehicle also supports vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home bidirectional charging.
Mercedes claims that the new battery will provide up to 466 miles of range on the WLTP cycle, with an efficiency of 5.2 miles per kW/hr. This translates to approximately 350 or more miles on the EPA cycle. However, Mercedes has not revealed the sizes of the two batteries.
Powering the Concept CLA-Class is a powertrain design taken from the EQXX. It consists of a rear-mounted permanently excited synchronous motor that produces 235 horsepower. This motor is paired with a 2-speed transmission. The powertrain, including the power electronics, weighs about 243 pounds and achieves up to 93% efficiency from the battery to the wheels during long-distance driving. Furthermore, the percentage of rare earth metals used in the powertrain has been reduced to “near zero.”
In terms of the design, the Concept CLA-Class is reminiscent of previous CLA generations, but with a techier flair. The headlights and taillights take the shape of the Mercedes star logo, and the grille has 264 small Mercedes stars in addition to one large star logo. These small stars can be illuminated by LEDs to create different patterns. The design of the wheels also incorporates numerous stars, and the glass roof features embossed stars.
Inside, the Concept CLA-Class features the Mercedes Superscreen, which spans the width of the dashboard. This screen incorporates both analog and digital controls for the climate system. The center console floats above the floor, providing additional storage space, while the MB.OS processor that runs the vehicle’s electronics is highlighted at the front of the firewall.
The cabin of the Concept CLA-Class showcases sustainable materials, which were also used in the EQXX. These materials include fabric made from recycled PET plastic, nappa leather tanned with coffee bean shells, artificial silk, bamboo for the floor mats, and even treated paper for some trim. The interior also features an improved heat pump from the EQXX, which utilizes ambient air and heated air from the drivetrain for more efficient warming.
The Concept CLA-Class incorporates SAE Level 2 driver-assistance systems, which can handle some driving tasks. Mercedes plans to add lidar technology for future production models and aims to offer SAE Level 3 self-driving capabilities, subject to local regulations. Additionally, the vehicle will feature a rear seat child detector system.
Mercedes plans to launch a production version of the Vision CLA in late 2024, expected to be marketed as the CLA-Class four-door coupe. More details, including pricing and specifications, will be revealed closer to the launch date.