‘You know that weight is always… it’s not a friend of the performance car. So, finding the right balance of boost, weight, CO2 and so on, is the challenge in that department.’
This week’s unveiling of the new Mercedes-Benz EQC has given the world its first look at the German giant’s new family of electric vehicles, which will include even more SUVs and a number of other passenger cars.
But, for Ola Kallenius – board of management member, and global head of research for Daimler AG and the development of all Mercedes-Benz models – it was probably no surprise that one of the first questions from the world’s media was about AMG.
After all, Kallenius is the former head of Mercedes-AMG, so he knows his way around that range better than most. Now, as the man who makes the calls on getting new models into development, he is best placed to tell us the company’s plan for all-electric performance.
It’s no secret AMG is electrifying its line-up to some extent. Already we’ve seen the unveiling earlier this year of the CLS53, which uses an ‘EQ Boost’ electric motor and 48V system to create a monster six-cylinder petrol-electric AMG capable of a 4.5-second sprint to 100km/h.
That’s not exactly doing things by halves, but it is nonetheless what would be described as a ‘mild hybrid’.
Plug-in hybrids are set to follow, kicking off in 2020 with an electrified version of the new AMG GT 4-Door that will shame the already impressive 3.2-second bolt to 100 the ‘regular’ 470kW and 900Nm V8 model claims. That model will be the first to launch the EQ Power+ range, named for the Mercedes-AMG F1 cars.
But what of an all-electric model? Speaking with Australian media in his homeland of Sweden, Kallenius is happy to confirm the obvious: with mild hybrids and PHEVs already on the roster, a full battery electric AMG EV is the logical next step.
The issue, as always, is making it a worthy offering.
“You know that weight is always… it’s not a friend of the performance car. So, finding the right balance of boost, weight, CO2 and so on, is the challenge in that department. So that’s a very comprehensive strategy that AMG Is making, as we speak.”
Kallenius points to the SLS Electric Drive as an example of AMG demonstrating five years ago – a lifetime in the automotive world – what it can achieve with electric power.
Above: the Audi R8, another all-electric super sports car. What will AMG do next to stay ahead?
It wasn’t cheap, at $586,500, and it wasn’t easily available, being exclusive to the European market. But, with 552kW of power and 1000Nm of torque, it was a credible preview – along with Audi’s R8 e-tron – of an electrifying future.
“When do we take the step into a full battery-electric (AMG) vehicle? We were early starters, with the SLS Electric Drive, a kind of crazy project to demonstrate, in an extreme way, what is possible if you really unleash the engineers and let them do what they can do,” he says.
“What we learned with that car is, we can do a lot. Especially on the vehicle dynamics side, with the torque vectoring – it was absolutely amazing to drive that car on a handling track, because it felt like you were driving on rails.
“So that whet the appetite. In the journey towards more and more electric mobility, it’s absolutely possible that AMG steps into that scene as well.”
Yes, Ola, but when?
“It’s not a concrete project kicked off at this time, but can I see it happening? Yes I can see it happening.”
For now, we know that Mercedes-Benz will launch 10 full-electric models onto the market by 2022. But, whether one of those will wear an AMG badge is still to be seen.
With any luck, with Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow concept is a preview of what’s to come…
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