When it comes to signifying automotive excess, few vehicles can stand alongside the Mercedes-Benz G-Class — also known as the Geländewagen. It’s hard to find a vehicle that can match the G-Wagen in terms of performance, capability, build quality — and, yes, price tag. For all its strengths, Mercedes-Benz’s iconic and formidable off-roader seems far from future-proof, given climate concerns heightening. The latest and greatest version of the G-Wagen still has a city/highway combined fuel efficiency of just 14 mpg.
But fans of the vehicle shouldn’t fret. In speaking at Germany’s Automobilwoche Kongress car industry event in Berlin on November 7, Daimler’s new CEO Ola Källenius expressed his longterm commitment to the G-Class. “The last Mercedes to be built will be a G-Class,” he said, according to Daimler’s head of digital transformation, Sascha Pallenberg.
He also confirmed that, as part of that future, Mercedes would be moving forward with an all-electric version of the G-Wagen. Autocar believes the EV could follow other Mercedes electrics by using “EQG” branding to signify the EV version of the G-Class. Källenius did not give a target date for the project, however, or say whether Mercedes would base the electric version on the current G-Class generation or a future one.
While it may seem antithetical, the gas-swizzling G-Class may be one of the vehicles best-suited for conversion to electric power. It’s large and powerful enough to accommodate the extra weight of the battery packs, while the lower center of gravity and tremendous off-the-line torque that are intrinsic with EVs would make the G-Wagen a more capable off-roader. And super-lux SUV buyers may be the customers least likely to be troubled by paying a premium for electric power; there’s a reason EV startup Rivian saw an opening in that segment of the market.
Rather than being a sacrilege, going electric may be what ensures the Mercedes G-Wagen’s continued survival. The car’s prodigious fuel consumption makes up a large part of the stigma about owning one. Going green may broaden its appeal.
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