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LA show: Benz goes wild with Ener-G-Force

Testosterone overload: The gargantuan Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force started life as a sketch for the LA Design Challenge, but morphed into this full-size preview concept.

Mercedes-Benz previews G-Class of the future with rugged fuel-cell concept


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19 Nov 2012

MERCEDES-Benz has revealed a wild fuel cell concept vehicle called the Ener-G-Force said to preview a rugged G-Class successor of the distant future.

Set to be unveiled in the metal at the Los Angeles motor show this month, the Ener-G-Force is a design study aimed at answering the question: Will the G-Class still be around in 2025? Despite being thoroughly modern underneath, the boxy visage of the current G-Class has gone largely unchanged since 1979.

Mercedes-Benz claims this concept “demonstrates how the genes of the classic off-roader may still assert themselves in the far future”.

As Mercedes’ entrant in this year’s LA Design Challenge, which centres around penning a Highway Patrol vehicle for the year 2025, the Ener-G-Force is also how the company envisions the future of police squad cars.

Benz claims the notion of penning the off-roader of tomorrow “fascinated” its designers so much that they took the original contest entry – penned at its studio is Carlsbad, California – and turned it into the 1:1 model set to appear at the LA motor show from November 28.

Overseas reports indicate the fanciful design also previews a wider array of possible future SUV models from Mercedes, including a direct rival to the Range Rover that would sit above the current hardcore GL-Class and target a different customer.

Mercedes-Benz Cars director of design Gorden Wagener called the concept a “vision of an off-roader that, while reflecting tomorrow’s adventures, also invokes the genes of the Mercedes-Benz off-road icon, the G model”.

“Modern and cool, it could also be a clue about a new beginning for the off-road design idiom of Mercedes-Benz,” he said.

The car’s proposed drivetrain features a quartet of wheel-hub motors driven by hydrogen fuel cells. Power for these cells is created by a prototype ‘hydro-tech converter’ using recycled water stored in roof-mounted tanks.

The storage units for electricity generated in this process are stored in the flamboyant side skirts, and, as a fuel-cell vehicle, the only emission is water.

Mercedes believes the prototype system is capable of providing an operating range of 800km.

Styling highlights include the tiny glass area – a “cocoon” for police, apparently – enormous tyres on chunky five-spoke 20-inch rims, an imposing four-bar grille with G-shaped front LED lights, and a tailgate-mounted pull-out compartment reminiscent of the G-Class’s spare-wheel housing.

A ‘Terra-Scan’ topograghy scanner on the roof gives 360-degree views of the surroundings, and is said to be capable of controlling a system that would adjust the spring and damping rates – plus other suspension parameters – for maximum traction on a given surface.

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