Mercedes-Benz has spent a lot of time convincing all of us that the newest generation of the G-Class would continue its legacy as an off-roader. That’s been mostly true, as it has walloped Jeep Wranglers and the sort. But that’s not why it sells.
The G-Class sells because it looks big, mean and expensive. Its legacy began as a military vehicle, and that projection of strength and power is what makes rich people want to pay so much money to buy it. It’s a status symbol.
And now Mercedes is engineering an all-electric version of the new G-Class, which is both a good idea and simultaneously also completely counter to the vehicle it revealed back in January of 2018.
Here’s the confirmation of the EV, via Roadshow:
That’s a Daimler spokesperson quoting the company CEO, so an electric G-Class is happening sometime in the near future. Of course, there was the hydrogen-powered clean energy G-Force concept from 2012, but that’s not what this will be. We’re talking charged batteries and electric motors.
But it will almost be impossible for a battery-electric G-Class to meet the rugged off-roading standard of the V8-powered G-Class of today. Obviously a lot of the hardware is going to need to be different, and it may be difficult to package the same suspension and strengthening parts from the current G-Class if you’re trying to wedge in a giant battery between it all.
The Mercedes-Benz EQC—the company’s first series production electric crossover—is based on the GLC combustion crossover, and they only managed to fit in 74 kWh of battery good for a measly 200 miles in that one. The G-Class wheelbase and overall length is nearly identical to the EQC, so that’s not a great start.
But the second, more likely major issue for off-roading an EV G-Class is the overall range. Currently, the V8 G-Class has a fuel tank capacity of just over 26 gallons, and a combined estimated mileage rating of 15 MPG. Obviously a G-Class isn’t going to get a full 400 miles out of a tank if it’s spending it all off-roading but it’s still a lot of range.
But no current electric cars, even the ones engineered specifically for maximizing range, can achieve 400 miles of range. The Long-Range Tesla Model S has an EPA-estimated range of 373 miles. It’s extremely unlikely an EV G-Class could get anywhere close to that figure with today’s technology due to Tesla’s impressive energy density and the sheer amount of real estate for batteries on the Model S platform.
Of course, I wait to be surprised. But what is more likely to happen is a ballpark estimate of around 200 miles for the electrified G-Class.
If that’s the case, it’s the perfect vehicle for a vast majority of those who currently buy the G-Class—city-dwellers with a lot of expendable income who don’t go further than the city limit without hiring a helicopter. And this is Mercedes recognizing that, and embracing it. And so too shall we all.