Mercedes-Benz is breaking the mold with its new Concept CLA-Class, which previews the company’s electric-first compact car platform. Unlike many vehicles that offer compromised electric versions, the Concept CLA-Class aims to deliver a seamless and sustainable electric driving experience. Revealed at IAA 2023 in Munich, the Concept CLA-Class showcases Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to electric mobility.
The Concept CLA-Class is based on the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) and features sleek styling, sustainable materials in the interior, and an impressive estimated range of 466 miles on the WLTP scale. While specific powertrain and battery details are limited, Mercedes-Benz drew inspiration from the Vision EQXX concept for the Concept CLA’s electric motors and dash-spanning Superscreen infotainment system.
The design of the Concept CLA-Class follows the iconic four-door coupe shape that has been a hallmark of the CLA nameplate since its introduction in 2014. However, Mercedes-Benz has made some tweaks to give it a sportier appearance, including a longer hood and shorter rear deck. The front grille is bolder, taking design cues from the Mercedes-AMG SL roadster and GT sports car. Illuminated three-dimensional stars on the grille panel add a touch of luxury to the overall design. The Concept CLA-Class features Mercedes’ Sensual Purity design language, with sleek bodysides, curved rear end, and flared fenders.
Inside the Concept CLA-Class, sustainability takes center stage. The upholstery is made from Nappa leather that is tanned using coffee husks, an otherwise unused byproduct of the coffee industry. The accent fabric is composed of recycled PET plastic, while lab-grown silk strips adorn the interior door pockets. The floor mats are made from bamboo, and even the door pulls and armrest trim are made from recyclable paper. The classic Mercedes-Benz laurel wreath is prominently featured, embroidered into the seats.
The highlight of the interior is the impressive Superscreen infotainment system. It spans the entire dashboard and consists of three separate displays: an instrument cluster and touchscreens in the center and in front of the passenger seat. The Mercedes-Benz operating system (MB.OS) powers the infotainment system, offering a liquid-cooled processor for faster operation and improved functionality.
While the Concept CLA-Class is still a concept car, Mercedes-Benz has provided some insight into its battery technology. The car will feature a water-cooled battery with two different battery types available: cost-effective lithium-ion phosphate chemistry and higher-energy density silicon-oxide anodes. The battery cells are held in place using adhesive instead of screws, reducing weight and improving structural integrity. Although the exact battery size is not disclosed, Mercedes-Benz estimates a range of 466 miles and energy consumption of 5.2 miles per kilowatt-hour, suggesting a battery with 89.6 kWh of usable capacity.
The Concept CLA-Class benefits from an 800-volt electrical architecture, enabling 250-kilowatt DC fast charging capability. In just 15 minutes, the car can add an estimated 248 miles of range. Power is sent to a compact Mercedes-Benz Electric Drive Unit (MB.EDU), which integrates the electric motor, two-speed transmission, and associated inverters and electronics. The rear-mounted drive unit weighs 243 pounds and delivers 235 horsepower. The use of rare-earth metals in the MB.EDU has been minimized for better sustainability. The Concept CLA-Class is capable of dual-motor power, signaling the potential for all-wheel drive in the production model.
The Concept CLA-Class is part of a broader plan by Mercedes-Benz to introduce an electric-first compact car platform. The MMA platform will be the basis for at least three more variants besides the CLA, including two crossovers and a station wagon. While internal combustion powertrains may be available, the electric variants are expected to debut first.
Mercedes-Benz intends to launch the production version of the CLA-Class by the end of 2024. Pricing details have not been disclosed, but the automaker acknowledges that it may take some time for electric vehicles to achieve cost parity with internal combustion cars. More information about the production model will be released in the coming months.
Overall, the Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class represents a bold step towards electric mobility. With its stylish design, sustainable materials, and impressive electric range, it showcases the brand’s commitment to a greener future.