"We intend to play a lead role in shaping the future of mobility," said Mercedes-Benz USA chief Dietmar Exler when we recently caught up with him for a quick chat. "This charge will be led by our new brand, EQ."
Denoting Mercedes-Benz's new division that focuses on "intelligent electric mobility," EQ encompasses a range of the company's vehicles that utilize electric drive trains, along with the corresponding services that Mercedes-Benz will offer with them. "We intend to electrify our portfolio by 2022, offering customers an electrified alternative in all segments, from Smart to large SUVs," Exler explained. "The U.S. will play an important role in our electric future."
Indeed like many in the industry, the company's press conference at last year's LA Auto Show showed a sharp focus on electrification. Exler went on to explain that Mercedes-Benz intends to upgrade its factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to support to the electrification of its SUVs and build a battery plant nearby.
2018 looks to be a busy one for the folks from Stuttgart. But in the meantime, the company had a few interesting pieces of hardware to show off in Los Angeles that ranged from a luxury roadster to a hypercar with Formula One-derived technology and an 11,000 rpm redline.
S-Class Cabriolet: The company's flagship coupe chops the top. "It's the very definition of beauty and brains," said Exler. The convertible benefits from the array of technology first seen in its sedan counterpart, like the dual widescreen displays for the gauge cluster and infotainment system, touchpad control on the steering wheel, and GPS-based semi-autonomous features of the Intelligent Drive Assistance system, which automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed based on the road ahead. The drop-top is also said to retain the same rigidity of its coupe counterpart, meaning that the hardtop's driving dynamics are retained here.
"The S-Class sedan, cabriolet and coupe have always been and continue to be flagships in the industry," Exler added. "These are the premier models in a lineup where each model demonstrates our ambition to lead in every segment in which we compete."
AMG GT4: Featuring the six-speed sequential gearbox from the GT3, this purpose-built racer is "the next logical step in our customer racing program," says AMG chief Tobias Moers. "This car truly sets new benchmarks in this specific racing segment." Based on the road-going AMG GT, the GT4 is powered by AMG's 4.0-liter twin turbocharged V8, also from the GT3 race car in this configuration. ABS and traction control are said to be fully adjustable, and with the availability of air conditioning and adjustable pedals, the GT4 looks to be a more comfortable place to conduct the business of motorsport than a typical racecar. The GT4 made its successful U.S. debut at Daytona with positions 5,6 and 7 during the Rolex 24.
Project One: "Now we're bringing our proven Formula One technology to the street, and the results no doubt speak for themselves," Moers explained while introducing the company's new hypercar. First seen earlier this year at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Project One is a technical powerhouse of machine boasting a total power train output in excess of 1000 horsepower between its electric motors and turbocharged V6, the latter of which revs to a brain-melting 11,000 rpm!
While the all-wheel drive Project One has no shortage of brute force, it's the way the car manages airflow that makes the overall design so striking, allowing for a top speed of 217 miles per hour while providing a massive amount of downforce at speed. Oh, and it can drive for 15 miles exclusively under electric power.
CLS: The third generation of the car that put the "four door coupe" on the map made its debut in Los Angeles as well, featuring a cleaner, more angular update to the CLS's stylized look. It also debuts Mercedes-Benz's new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six cylinder engine, which dishes out 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
The new power train also incorporates a starter and generator system that's hooked up to a 48-volt electrical system and provides 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Like most mild hybrid setups the "EQ Boost" system is here to help improve fuel economy, but it can provide some extra assistance with off-the-line acceleration as well.
"If you ask me, this car wants to blow your mind," explained Daimler's Britta Seeger. "The new CLS pioneers our new designer idiom with clear contours and reduced lines, wide low-set headlamps, and a grille that resembles the AMG GT's." Pricing has not yet been announced for any of the CLS variants, which includes the AMG-infused Edition 1 model seen here in white, but they're expected to go on sale by fall of 2018.