Mercedes’ EQ Silver Arrow proves heritage and electrification can coexist

Chris Davies - Aug 27, 2018, 10:29 am CDT
Mercedes’ EQ Silver Arrow proves heritage and electrification can coexist

It’s a good year if you like single-seater electric cars. Three such concepts were brought along to Pebble Beach: Infiniti had its Prototype 10, an evolution of the more retro Prototype 9 from last year, while Audi’s PB18 e-tron put a more futuristic spin on the idea. Mercedes’ car took a different tack, but was no less striking for it.

Impractically low, and menacing in the manner of a hammerhead shark, the EQ Silver Arrow dips back into the automaker’s racing history. In particular, inspiration comes from the 1937 W 125 twelve-cylinder, a racing car that still looks modern today – there was no shortage of people at Pebble Beach asking “is that the concept?” at Mercedes’ display. That itself borrowed liberally from the aviation industry, and set an average public road speed record that lasted all the way to November 2017.

5.3 meters long, the EQ Silver Arrow promises even more speed. The carbon fiber body’s style is Flash Gordon meets Cylon warrior, with sinuous curves flowing around the wheels yet leaving plenty of gaps through which the custom Pirelli rubber – with its unique star embossing – can be viewed.

Indeed, much of the car’s charm is in the detailing. The EQ Silver Arrow shares some of the EQ elements we’ve seen before, like the illuminated sections in the grille – here a narrow wedge mounted low, close to the ground – but also introduces new features. The stunning wheels, with their partial covers, are probably the most attention-grabbing.

Each consists of 168 aluminum spokes, painted rose gold, and racing-style central hubs. From that hub, the half-tulip-like cover emerges, with the wheel itself rotating behind it. The way the light shifts and reflects across the rose gold and silver is undoubtedly one of the most charming elements of the whole concept.

In the cabin, meanwhile, the attention to detail continues. If the exterior of the car is a retro-futuristic rocket, the interior is spaceship meets speedboat. Alcantara butts against pinstriped walnut wood, into which the single seat – trimmed in saddle brown leather – is embedded. Gleaming chrome-finish aluminum picks out the racing harness and the minimalistic controls.

Things get more technical up, under the canopy. There Mercedes’ designers have used the steering wheel as the primary route of interaction with the car, with a touchscreen embedded into the center of the rectangular steering wheel. Behind that is the projection dashboard, translucent so that graphics can be overlaid onto the road – or racetrack ahead – including giving drivers a “ghost” lead car to demonstrate the perfect line around the course.

Sat low beneath the canopy, just the tip of your head emerging from the cutaway roof, you’ve no shortage of power to call upon. Mercedes-Benz envisages a 738 horsepower all-electric drivetrain for the racer, powered by an 80 kWh battery sandwiched into the car’s underbody. Like Audi, Mercedes isn’t being too outlandish with its propulsion plans. 738 hp might sound like a lot, but it – and the EQ Silver Arrow’s roughly 250 miles of range – are eminently possible given the automaker’s upcoming EV technology.

The first production car to sport that won’t look quite as striking, or be quite so impractical, as this Pebble Beach concept, mind. Instead, as Mercedes’ teaser today indicates, it will be of a far more family-friendly design. Eventually, though, there’ll be a number of different models – spanning SUVs through to more performance-focused options – under the new EQ brand. Figure on niceties like DC fast charging, which will deliver 60+ miles of charge in around 10 minutes.

That first production EQ car will be revealed on September 4. As for the EQ Silver Arrow, that’ll likely end up in the Mercedes museum as another milestone on the way to a big electrified shake-up for one of the auto industry’s oldest marques.

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