The Mercedes-Benz F015, electric car concept. Picture: Supplied
Battery electric cars will able to run for 500 kilometres between five-minute recharges — and outperform any petrol-powered car on the road — in less than five years.
Electric cars have sold dismally in Australia because they’ve been too expensive, have limited range and take several hours to recharge.
But Mercedes-Benz says electric vehicle (EV) drivers of the future will be able to recharge their car in roughly the same time it takes to fill up a petrol car.
The world’s oldest carmaker will reveal the new technology, wrapped in the body of an upscale SUV, at the Paris Motor Show in September.
It claims its new hero will easily outperform the Tesla that currently sets the standard for electric cars.
And it will arrive sooner and offer faster charging than the Volkswagen Group’s offering, which is set for release in the year 2025.
Mercedes has developed a skateboard-style mechanical platform wrapped around a 400-kilogram lithium-ion battery pack, with electric motors at both ends, all-wheel drive, inductive charging and a huge suite of Apps and technologies that will eventually allow the car to drive itself.
The Telsa roadster electric car. Telsa currently sets the standard for electric cars
“We are going to change the world,” says Jurgen Schenk, the director of E-Drive System Integration at Daimler.
“It’s the beginning of a new vehicle architecture. We think it will be a transformation.
“The first car will be on sale this decade. It will be followed by a wide range of vehicles, more and more.”
Schenk is the head of a 450-member development team that’s already been through six generations of electric car programs, mostly based on the baby Smart car and suitable for short-haul city work.
But the big breakthrough will begin in 2019 when the full-sized battery-electric concept from Paris becomes a road-going reality with answers to all of the current shortcomings in plug-in cars.
“We are going to transform the world. It will astonish you.”
Schenk says the flexibility of the new architecture means any body style — he calls it “the hut” — can sit on top of the electric drive platform, from a luxury sedan to an SUV.
He even promises high-performance electric cars that will easily outpace the existing turbocharged V8 petrol muscle cars produced by Benz’s AMG division.
“They could do it right now. It will be dangerous,” he laughs. “We can match the performance of any car on the road, and it’s easy.”
Talking specifics on the production version of the future car, he confirms it will be built with right-hand drive and will likely be sold in Australia. It will also be engineered so it can be built in any of Benz’s existing factories, although battery production needs to be ramped up to satisfy demand. It is thought the range would start from around $70,000.
But Schenk is not predicting the end of internal-combustion engines and also says the world needs more plug-in hybrid vehicles — a breed that Benz is pushing strongly for the near future — on the road to fully-electric motoring.
“The internal combustion engines are earning the money we need for the transformation.” “The planet will turn into an electric planet. We don’t know how fast the transformation is coming.”