“The technology program behind the VISION EQXX will define and enable future Mercedes-Benz models and features,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes‑Benz AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Procurement. “As a halo car, the VISION EQXX firmly establishes Mercedes-Benz as the brand that pairs luxury with technology in the automotive world and beyond. And the way we developed it is as revolutionary as the vehicle itself. VISION EQXX has seen the best minds from our R&D centers work together with engineers from our Formula 1 and Formula E programs. They are proving that innovations from motorsport – where powertrains are already highly electrified – have immediate relevance for road car development. We are challenging current development processes with an innovative spirit and outside-the-box thinking. This truly is the way forward.”
Currently the largest aluminum structural casting at Mercedes-Benz, BIONEQXX is the major structural component at the rear end of the VISION EQXX – the rear floor. It was developed in-house by Mercedes-Benz using entirely digital techniques and a software approach that is utterly unique within the automotive sector. The result is optimum functionality packaged within the compact dimensions of the available space. Furthermore, the team created this impressive and manufacturable one-part casting in just four months.
Inspired by natural forms and in partnership with innovative start-ups, engineers used advanced digital tools to lower weight and reduce waste by removing excess material assisted by 3D printing. As shown in the video below (go to minute 13:00), the Mercedes VISION EQXX’s entire rear subframe, which the company refers to as BIONEQXX, is built by consolidating over 70 parts into a single, bionically engineered, optimized aluminum cast.
This car is one outcome of an ongoing program that is delivering a blueprint for the future of automotive engineering. Many of its features and developments are already being integrated into production, including the next generation of the MMA – the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture for compact and medium-sized cars.
While that may be the most impressive, it is not the only part created with 3D printing. Other parts, such as a frame for the windscreen wiper motor were generatively weight-optimized and 3D printed directly in metal, getting the weight down from 2Kg to 200 grams. This process, which the company refers to as BIONICAST, is a Mercedes-Benz registered trademark applied to structural castings engineered according to the principles of nature. The bracket carrying the windscreen wipers of the VISION EQXX is designed using principles of bionic engineering.
Taking their cues from organic forms, the development engineers sought to use material only where necessary for structural function, i.e. where loads are exerted. In line with the laws of nature, where there is no load there is no need for material.
To produce the BIONEQXX part, which is the largest aluminum cast ever made by Mercedes, the company used a giant 3D printed sand mold that was likely created using an internal voxeljet machine. Yet other parts, even smaller ones such as the suspension mount, were also cast from a 3D printed mold.
This technology has already been transferred to Mercedes-Benz production models. For instance, the chassis components in the new EQS have been modified to reduce weight by increasing stiffness.
The new Mercedes VISION EDXX concept has been hailed for range and efficiency that are set to define the electric era. But Mercedes-Benz is not resting. Driven by the idea of zero impact and a highly responsible use of green energy, we inspired our engineers to go above and beyond. They are working intensively to take range and efficiency to a whole new level. The VISION EQXX is the result of a mission we set ourselves to break through technological barriers across the board and to lift energy efficiency to new heights. It demonstrates the gains that are possible through rethinking the fundamentals from the ground up. This includes advances across all elements of its cutting-edge electric drivetrain as well as the use of lightweight engineering through advanced 3D printing processes, and the use of new sustainable materials (also 3D printed).
“Working with these innovative, sustainable materials to design the interior of the VISION EQXX was a hugely liberating and exhilarating experience,” says Gorden Wagener. “They open up completely new avenues of creativity, and the visual and tactile finishes are exquisite. The upscale feel of the interior through the use of ambient lighting as well as silver, rose-gold and gloss black accents is a highly progressive interpretation of modern luxury for the all-electric era.”
BIONICAST is a Mercedes-Benz registered trademark applied to structural castings engineered according to the principles of nature. The bracket carrying the windscreen wipers and motor on the VISION EQXX was likewise designed using principles of bionic engineering. Here, too, the pioneering technique proved invaluable in keeping weight to a minimum while maximizing functionality within the tight packaging constraints.
The interior features a large number of innovative materials sourced from start-ups around the world. For example, the door pulls are made from AMsilk’s Biosteel fibre. This high-strength, biotechnology-based and certified-vegan silk-like fabric comes from the inventor of biofabricated (nature-identical) fiber. Combining revolutionary science with true environmental integrity, its use here marks a first in the automotive sector.
VISION EQXX bionic engineering
The VISION EQXX is an inspirational, yet completely realistic way forward for electric vehicle technology. In addition to its ground-breaking energy efficiency, it offers meaningful answers to pressing issues. For instance, sustainable materials throughout cut the carbon footprint considerably. Its UI/UX features a radical new one-piece display that comes to life with responsive real-time graphics and spans the entire width of the vehicle. Other elements of the UI/UX help the car and driver work together as one, and even use technology that mimics the workings of the human brain. And the software-led development process that delivered it revolutionizes the way electric cars are designed.
Marking the launch of a new, super-purist design style, the VISION EQXX represents a new expression of efficiency in interior design. In a departure from the conventional design approach, the interior layout focuses on just a few modules and the beautiful simplicity of lightweight design. This is expressed through the absence of complex shapes and the integration of lightweight structures into the interior aesthetic in a wholly organic way, making traditional trim elements superfluous.
“The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars. Just one-and-a-half years ago, we started this project leading to the most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built – with an outstanding energy consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometers. It has a range of more than 1,000 kilometers on a single charge using a battery that would fit even into a compact vehicle. The VISION EQXX is an advanced car in many dimensions and even looks stunning and futuristic. With that, it underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.” Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.