Mercedes-Benz is making a big commitment to electrification. It currently has three pure EVs on the market, the compact EQA, the EQC SUV and the new Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan, shown here in the cavernous surroundings of Zurich’s new Halle 550 exhibition space, designed by Spillmann Echsle Architects. There’s also the forthcoming EQB seven-seater SUV and an electric version of Mercedes’ V-class van, the EQV.  While EQs A, B and C follow established car design principles, the EQS is way bolder, making the most of all-new electric underpinnings.

The next Mercedes-Benz EVs will deploy this platform to increasingly spectacular effect. Gorden Wagener has headed up Mercedes’ design team since 2008, becoming the company’s chief design officer in 2016, and the EQS is the culmination of a long-term design project, as well as the start of something new.

Mercedes-Benz EQS electric sedan

Mercedes EQS

‘The design team helped define the new architecture, starting with our 2015 design vision, the F 015 Luxury in Motion concept car,’ says Wagener. ‘This provided an answer to pretty much everything – autonomy, digital connectivity, electric drive. We’ve tried to make that vision become reality with the EQS and the cars that will follow.’ 

F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle
F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle
The F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle from 2015 previewed many of the elements of Mercedes-Benz’s new electric models

In some respects, the ultra-aerodynamic EQS goes head-to-head with the long-established flagship Mercedes S-Class range, the Sonderklasse (‘special class’) that has led the brand’s line-up since 1972. As the designer notes, ‘S-Class is the core of our brand, our most important product’. Over the decades, the S-Class has ushered in a host of automotive technologies that are now industry standard.

The baton is about to be passed. ‘We are in a transition phase right now,’ says Wagener. ‘We still have combustion cars and we’ve just launched a new S-Class with both combustion and hybrid models. The EQS stands next to the existing model – it’s not yet time to completely replace it.’

Mercedes EQS

In terms of design, the EQS offers impressive new levels of interior space. ‘The biggest challenges with electric cars are the height of the battery, which makes the body taller,’ Wagener explains. ‘The EQS has a long wheelbase and a decent wheel size, so there’s a good wheel-to-body relationship, which is so crucial on luxury cars.’ It incorporates that fine fluid line you saw on the F 015, with stretched windows and a roof line that creates an entirely new silhouette.

Inside, there is another paradigm shift, the MBUX Hyperscreen. Stretching door to door, this colossal display screen was a huge technical challenge. ‘The Hyperscreen came out of an early interior sketch. At that point, it was impossible to realise,’ says Wagener. ‘What I love so much about this company is that we made it a reality using our engineering skills. The Hyperscreen will change the industry – it’s so disruptive.’ 

Mercedes EQS car interior
The EQS marks the debut of Mercedes-Benz’s ’Hyperscreen’, a dashboard-wide display 

Wagener believes that technology impacts on aesthetics, not just urban emissions and driving habits. ‘Technology fundamentally changes the look of the product,’ he says. ‘For me, it’s almost like the shift from steam trains to bullet trains.’  At the 2021 IAA Mobility Show in Munich, Mercedes unveiled the EQE sedan, in addition to new electric concepts from Mercedes-Maybach, Mercedes-AMG and Smart.

In 2022, it will reveal the Vision EQXX concept, which promises a range of around 1,000km. The company seems determined to ensure that aesthetics and innovation go hand in hand. §

Mercedes EQS