Here’s a surprise. Mercedes says some of its future models that run on gasoline or diesel will be built on its MMA small to medium size electric car platform that is expected to debut in 2024. Up until now, many plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars have been built on chassis designed for internal combustion engines. The most well known example is the Kia Niro, which can be a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or a battery-electric car. But there are others as well, such as the BMW i4 and even Mercedes’ own EQB.
In an interview with Motor 1, Christoph Starzynski, Mercedes vice president for the development of electric drivetrains, said the next-generation A Class and B Class compact cars would offer both internal combustion and electric propulsion. But instead of the electric versions being based on a chassis designed for combustion engines, the cars with combustion engines will be based on a platform designed for battery-electric power. “The platform will be EV first but not EV exclusive, and the compromise will rest on the ICE side, not the EV side,” Starzynski said.
The compact modular MMA platform will debut in 2024, probably as the basis for the next generation Mercedes A Class before expanding to the CLA sedan, GLA and GLB compact SUVs, and B Class compact MPV. In EV form, the MMA cars will adopt many of the lessons learned from the record setting EQXX concept car, including the unique anode chemistry that improves power density. Active aerodynamics might also make the jump from the slippery concept to compact car reality.
Some may question why Mercedes needs to shoehorn combustion engines into an electric car chassis. The answer is those cars will help Mercedes maintain a reasonable cost of entry for its least expensive vehicles, since its EVs will inevitably be more expensive than their gasoline-powered equivalents for some time to come.
“We will not achieve cost parity in the near future,” Mercedes chief technology officer Markus Schäfer told the press recently. “We have to face higher costs on an EV drivetrain for the next few years, and we have to look for compensation in the vehicle. Of course, we try to be as close as possible with compact cars, to reduce the cost to compensate for the higher cost within [the EV technology].”
That may not be what EV advocates want to hear but it’s in line with the reality of keeping the company profitable while the transition to electric cars takes place. But we can hope that more people will turn their noses up at the prospect of driving a car with last century technology when there are better alternatives available.
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