Mercedes-Benz has finally unveiled a truly impressive electric vehicle in the form of the new CLA concept class EV. Built on the automaker’s cutting-edge MMA platform optimized for EVs, the stunning CLA concept demonstrates the full potential of Mercedes’ electrified future.
Debuting at the 2023 IAA Mobility Show in Munich, the CLA concept essentially translates the advanced technology of Mercedes’ radical VISION EQXX concept into a production-intent model. Headline stats like 750km of range, 15-minute fast charging to 400km, and 12kWh/100km energy usage prove that Mercedes is ready to take on the likes of Tesla.
Efficient Electric Propulsion
The highlight of the CLA concept is its incredibly efficient electric powertrain, enabling that game-changing 750km WLTP range. Energy consumption is an equally impressive 12kWh/100km – on par with the most efficient EVs today.
This is made possible by Mercedes’ in-house designed electric drive unit first seen in the EQXX. Interestingly, Mercedes has skipped using a permanent magnet motor with rare earth metals. Instead, the CLA uses an induction-based 175kW unit that achieves 93% efficiency from battery to wheels. The 2-speed transmission further optimizes efficiency at various speeds.
800V Fast Charging
The CLA concept adopts an 800V electrical architecture that enables lightning-fast charging. With a powerful 250kW DC fast charger, Mercedes claims a 15-minute session can add around 400km of driving range. Charging from 10-80% should take just over 30 minutes. This finally brings Mercedes into Tesla-rivaling charging speeds.
Flexible MMA Platform
The magic behind the CLA lies in Mercedes’ new MMA platform engineered specifically for EVs. The modular platform supports multiple battery and motor configurations, enabling everything from entry-level models to high-performance flagships.
Initially, the CLA will be offered with two battery options. There’s a high-density silicon anode pack for maximum range, and a more affordable lithium iron phosphate (LFP) option. Differing from most EVs, Mercedes uses adhesive to mount the battery cells instead of bolts.
Besides the rear-wheel drive CLA, Mercedes says MMA supports AWD capabilities and will underpin sedans, SUVs and crossovers of varying sizes. Global production begins at factories in Germany, Hungary and China.
Sleek, Aerodynamic Exterior
True to Mercedes’ Sensual Purity design language, the CLA concept presents a sleek, windswept shape with clean, smooth bodywork. The tapered nose, flowing roofline, and truncated rear end work together to achieve an impressive drag coefficient of just 0.22 Cd.
Up front, the CLA’s grille seamlessly integrates with the bodywork and serves as a digital canvas. Illuminated three-pointed stars and dynamic patterns activate when driving or charging. The rear is characterized by 3D-effect taillights surrounded by continuous light strips.
The concept rides on massive 21-inch wheels with intricate star-shaped designs. Flared wheel arches and a wide stance optimize stability and handling. Attention to aero also includes retractable door handles and cameras instead of mirrors.
Futuristic Digital Cabin
Inside the cabin, Mercedes previews its next-generation MBUX system with the MBUX Hyperscreen first shown in the EQS. The curved screen spans pillar-to-pillar, integrating multiple displays for both driver and passenger.
Mercedes says mini-LED backlighting and 3D graphics create an immersive, high-quality display experience. The digital air vents can completely transform to show cabin temperature settings. Neat details include a transparent OLED center display and wireless charging pad.
Bucket seats get a stylish diamond-quilted pattern befitting Mercedes’ heritage of fine craftsmanship and luxury. Sustainable materials are used throughout the interior, like open-pore walnut wood. The CLA clearly represents MB’s vision for the EV era where technology and tradition collide.
Technology Enabling Sustainable Mobility
Mercedes makes it clear that the MMA platform and CLA concept are integral parts of the company’s broader sustainability strategy. For example, battery cells achieve carbon-neutral production. The CLA’s bidirectional charging capability could also help stabilize renewable energy grids.
Add in the highly recyclable MMA platform itself, and the CLA demonstrates how Mercedes-Benz is translating its ambitious EV plans into reality. With prototypes hitting the road now, the production CLA seems poised to spearhead Mercedes’ electric revolution when it launches in late 2024. Given the remarkable capabilities shown by the concept so far, the future for Mercedes EVs is very bright.