Electric CLA Showcases Next-Gen Modular Architecture

Cars, Features I By Justin Cornelison I September 15, 2023
Mercedes-Benz Electric CLA Concept front

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is in full swing, and Mercedes-Benz is making its presence known with the unveiling of their electric CLA concept at IAA Mobility. This long-range entry-level EV is set to take on the Tesla Model 3 and redefine what it means to be a compact electric car.

Electric CLA

The “One-Liter Car”

Mercedes-Benz has dubbed the electric CLA concept the new “one-liter car,” a term that harkens back to the era of highly fuel-efficient vehicles. The reason behind this nickname is the remarkable efficiency of the electric CLA’s drivetrain, which promises over 466 miles of range according to the WLTP standard. This translates to an energy consumption of about 5.2 mi/kWh.

Mercedes-Benz Electric CLA Concept

Cutting-Edge Technology

At the heart of this impressive efficiency is Mercedes’ next-gen Modular Architecture (MMA) platform. This platform, derived from the ultra-efficient VISION EQXX, features an 800V system, a high-density battery, and an exceptionally efficient electric drive unit. Two battery chemistries will be available, catering to different preferences and needs.

In a departure from conventional battery assembly, Mercedes-Benz uses adhesive to secure the cell modules, resulting in a lighter and more compact battery. This innovation contributes to the electric CLA’s excellent range and overall efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz Electric CLA Concept rear

Fast Charging and Bidirectional Capability

Mercedes-Benz has not only focused on range but also on convenience. The electric CLA concept is equipped with an 800V system that enables rapid DC charging at up to 250 kW. In just 15 minutes, it can add 248 miles of range. Moreover, the car features bidirectional charging, allowing it to serve as a backup energy source, a feature increasingly important in a world with a growing emphasis on renewable energy and grid stability.

A Design Evolution

Beyond its technical prowess, the Mercedes-Benz electric CLA concept marks a significant step in the evolution of the brand’s design language. While it retains some visual cues from its gas-powered sibling, it introduces distinctive electric elements. The front end, for example, boasts a sleek shark-nose design and a seamless “grille” panel. Star-shaped headlamp clusters and light bands further enhance its modern aesthetic.

Gorden Wagener, chief design officer of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, emphasizes that the CLA concept reinterprets iconic design elements for the electric age. It’s a harmonious blend of heritage and innovation.

Mercedes-Benz Electric CLA Concept interior

A Tech-Focused Interior

Inside, the electric CLA concept offers a minimalist and tech-focused cabin. The full-width MBUX Superscreen takes center stage, incorporating features inspired by the VISION EQXX. Virtual air vents, reminiscent of turbines, flank the screen, while physical air vents are discreetly placed behind it, serving dual purposes as a source of ambient lighting.

The front bucket seats are minimalist “mono-swing shells” with illuminated surfaces for smartphone charging, a testament to Mercedes-Benz’s attention to detail and innovation.

Electric CLA

Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS)

Powering the vehicle’s digital experience is the Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS), a state-of-the-art “digital brain.” This proprietary architecture, with AI and machine learning capabilities, paves the way for advanced driver-assistance systems.

Mercedes-Benz anticipates that the electric CLA concept will support SAE Level 3 autonomy with future updates to the MB.OS software. Additionally, the system features a Child Presence Detection (CPD) system designed to enhance child safety, detecting changes in breathing patterns and alerting the driver if necessary.

The electric CLA concept represents a leap forward in the world of entry-level EVs. With its impressive range, cutting-edge technology, striking design, and innovative interior, it showcases Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to electrification and sets a new standard for what we can expect from electric vehicles in the future. The “one-liter car” may soon become synonymous with efficient electric mobility.

Mercedes-Benz Electric CLA Concept profile

Mercedes-Benz Electric CLA Concept headlight

Mercedes-Benz Electric CLA Concept grill

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