“What you see here is not just a show-car, it was our first prototype,” said Emmerich Schiller, the man in charge of off-road vehicles at Mercedes-Benz. This car is actually ready to drive, he added.
So, when you can you expect to be cruising down the street in this silent, swaggy, electric G? “We still have some work to do before it comes to market in a few years” said Philipp Schiemer, CEO of AMG, during the unveiling of the concept at a special event in Munich.
As it stands, the only reason you wouldn’t want to buy Mercedes-Benz’s iconic off-roader is because it absolutely guzzles gas. The electric G-Class – dubbed EQG – removes that barrier entirely; now you can have all the thrills of driving this modern classic SUV without any of the climate-related guilt. (It’s absolutely going to be the perfect vehicle don’t @ me.)
In case you haven’t listened to any top-40 hits in the last, say, 20 years, the G-Class is also known as the G-Wagon, or simply the G. It was originally built in the 1970s at the behest of the Shah of Iran who wanted a rugged 4×4. By the time the Gelaendewagen project (“Cross-country vehicle”) was ready, the Shah had been overthrown, but Mercedes decided to go ahead and sell this truck to the public, as well as militaries around the world.
People buy the modern G-Class because it looks like a classic. It has become a timeless design. The overall shape – something like a shed on wheels – has barely changed over 40 years. Thankfully, Mercedes had the good sense not to mess with the style.
“A G stays a G,” said Achim-Dietrich Badstübner in what might just be our new favourite quote by a German auto-industry exec. Walking through the details of the concept car, Badstübner – exterior designer at Mercedes-Benz – noted details like the light bars along the side of the body, the deep-dish 22-inch brushed aluminum wheels, and a roof rack with built-in LED spotlights. There’s no chrome on the front of the car either. “We replaced it with light,” he said, pointing to the illuminated blue grille and signature round headlights embedded in black glass. That spare tire cover on the trunk is actually a lock box, a place to keep the charging cable or other small items.
“When we started discussions about electrifying the G-Class, I was a little skeptical myself,” said off-road boss Emmerich Schiller. But any hesitation disappeared once his team started looking into the possibilities afforded by electric propulsion. Instead of the usual 4×4 system which runs off shafts from a single gas motor, the EQG has four electric motors, one at each wheel. That means you get more precise control on the roughest, most slippery surfaces, and maneuvers like a 360-degree “tank-turn” could be possible. Nothing is off-the-shelf, everything is tailor made to meet the needs of an electric off-roader, Schiller added. A two-speed transmission offers a low-range gear for rock-crawling and the battery pack – integrated into the ladder frame – lowers the SUV’s centre of gravity, meaning it could theoretically tackle even steeper climbs and angles than the gasoline-powered G.
Back in 2018, Arnold Schwarzenegger made Dieter Zetsche, then head of Mercedes-Benz, promise to electrify the G-Wagon. Schwarzenegger may have to wait a few more years to get his hands on one, but Mercedes held up its promise.