As a clean-sheet design built on Mercedes’ new MMA architecture specifically for EVs, it points the way forward for the brand’s smaller electric models. Though merely a concept, it’s production-intent, meaning much of what you see here will end up on the 2025 Mercedes-Benz CLA launching in late 2024.
With its smooth Coke-bottle styling and shark-nose grille, the Concept CLA-Class is instantly recognizable as a Mercedes. But its sweeping lines conceal some serious EV credentials underneath. A single rear-mounted motor makes 235 hp and transfers power through an innovative two-speed transmission, a first for a Mercedes EV. This setup, along with the 800-volt electrical architecture borrowed from the ultra-efficient Vision EQXX concept, could enable this electric four-door to travel up to 400 miles on a charge.
Matching the EQXX concept in the range is no easy feat, but Mercedes has packed the Concept CLA with bleeding-edge EV tech to make it possible. A next-gen heat pump maximizes range in cold weather by extracting heat from the outside air. And the 90 kWh battery uses silicon oxide anodes to squeeze out extra energy density. Mercedes is even planning a more affordable lithium iron phosphate battery option.
But efficiency takes many forms in this concept. Unique to Mercedes EVs, the two-speed transmission keeps the powertrain operating at peak efficiency across speeds. And with 250 kW fast charging based on its 800-volt architecture, the Concept CLA-Class can add around 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes of high-power public charging.
The Concept CLA’s interior provides a peek at the digital-first future Mercedes envisions for its entry-level models. An enormous screen spans the entire dash, merging displays for instruments, infotainment, and passenger-side content. Called the MBUX Superscreen, it runs on Mercedes’ MB.OS software with over-the-air update capability. The UI features a mushroom motif throughout, from the climate vents to the textured speaker grilles.
Though many of its interior appointments are fanciful concept-car fare, some stand out as truly innovative. The Superscreen’s protruding climate dials are a tactile breath of fresh air in a sea of glass. And the roof-mounted sensor bulge hints at upcoming Level 3 semi-autonomous driving assistance, enabled through MB.OS updates. This concept is ready for the future in more ways than one.
As an entry-level model, the production CLA-Class EV won’t break the bank despite its forward-looking features. With such strong projected range and charging, not to mention head-turning looks inside and out, it could bring a huge swath of new buyers into the Mercedes EV ecosystem. If the production version lives up to this concept’s promise, it could be a landmark electric vehicle when it arrives in 2025.