Mercedes-Benz CLA Sedan Goes Electric

The Concept CLA Class points to the new third-generation CLA sedan due out in 2024 with up to 536 hp and a 466-mile range.

Greg Kable

September 3, 2023

5 Min Read
MB CLA Concept side view screenshot
Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA Class substantially previews production version due out in 2024.Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz reveals the Concept CLA Class at the 2023 Munich auto show, just over a year before a lightly altered production version of the all-new sedan is planned to be launched as a high-tech replacement for today’s second-generation CLA sedan.

The first of four so-called “compact” models to be based on the Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) platform – a versatile, dual-purpose structure aimed at facilitating the shift to electrification – the advanced Tesla Model 3 rival will offer the choice of either all-electric and internal-combustion-engine drivetrains as well as rear- and all-wheel drive, depending on the market where it is sold.

Mercedes-Benz confirms the new CLA will be the first in a range of MMA-based models to receive a new in-house-developed and -produced electric motor.

In the Concept CLA Class, the compact asynchronous unit delivers 235 hp to the rear wheels via a 2-speed transmission.

MB Concept CLA front 1.4 screenshot.png

MB Concept CLA front 1.4 screenshot

Other outputs are planned, including 201 hp in a base rear-wheel-drive, single-motor-powered CLA model and up to 536 hp in a dual-motor CLA AMG range-topping model earmarked for launch in 2025.

The German automaker also says its third electric sedan will offer the choice of lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) and lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC) batteries from the beginning of sales in late 2024 – both featuring new cell chemistry in comparison to the batteries used by electric-powered Mercedes-Benz models on sale today.

The new-generation batteries range in energy capacity between 58 kWh and 85 kWh, Wards has been told.

The LFP unit pioneers a new construction technique developed by Mercedes-Benz with its cell modules held in place with adhesive rather than screws for lower weight and more compact packaging.

Crucially, the new CLA will be the first production car from Mercedes-Benz to support an 800V electric architecture, allowing energy replenishment at up to 250 kW on an ultrafast DC charger.

This enables a 248-mile (399-km) extension in range for next year’s all-new CLA in 15 minutes under optimal charging conditions, says Mercedes-Benz.

The dedicated electric-vehicle platform, 800V electric architecture, in-house-produced electric motor and battery technology, a combination first previewed by the Vision EQXX concept car, provides the Concept CLA Class and its upcoming production-car sibling with what Mercedes-Benz Chief Technology Officer Markus Schäfer describes as “phenomenal efficiency.”

MB Concept CLA rear deck screenshot.png

MB Concept CLA rear deck screenshot_0

Mounted within the rear axle assembly, the electric motor and transmission are integrated into one unit weighing less than 243 lbs. (110 kg) and feature a silicon-carbide inverter that is claimed to contribute to energy efficiency of up to 93% from battery to wheel at a constant cruising speed. This compares to the 89% efficiency of today’s EQA.

In all-electric guise, the most efficient of the new ʼ25-model CLA models is claimed to achieve average energy consumption of 5.2 miles/kWh on the WLTP test cycle in combination with standard rear-wheel drive, giving it a range of up to 466 miles (750 km).

The rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3 Long Range, by comparison, receives an 82-kWh battery and has a claimed WLTP range of 382 miles (615 km).

“The Concept CLA Class represents an entirely new approach for Mercedes-Benz. It incorporates many learnings from our Vision EQXX technology program. Our engineers have maximized efficiency by driving down losses in its 800V electric drive system. It also features a high level of integration, enabling excellent energy density,” Schäfer says.

The styling of the new Concept CLA Class provides a lightly veiled look and dimensions of the next CLA and its CLA Shooting Brake sibling due out in 2025.

The exterior builds on the look of today’s model with a more contemporary-looking front end featuring a lower-set black panel grille featuring an illuminated three-point star and slight shark nose-like forward tilt. Newly shaped headlamps are connected by an LED light bar to accentuate the car’s width and give the new sedan a distinctive nighttime graphic.

Along the sides, there are frameless doors, a less-exaggerated bow to the window line, and largely unadorned surfacing.

Further back, the signature coupe-like roofline is retained in combination with a heavily angled rear window, giving the new model a sleek profile. The sedan also adopts more pronounced haunches over the rear wheels to give it a more confident stance than today’s model.

At the rear is a short notchback-style trunk and new a full-width taillamp assembly with LED graphics featuring three-point star detailing.

MB Concept CLA interior screenshot.png

MB Concept CLA interior screenshot_0

Inside (pictured, above), the Concept CLA Class adopts a full-width MBUX Superscreen similar to that used by the Vision EQXX concept set within the dashboard. Set to be retained for the production version, it operates in combination with Mercedes-Benz’s new MB.OS operating system.

The new chip-to-cloud architecture, which will support Google Maps navigation among other embedded apps, represents a new approach to in-car infotainment for Mercedes-Benz, which says it will be included in all future models starting with the new CLA. 

A further new development is the CLA’s Level 3 lidar-based autonomous driving assistance system functionality. It is not initially planned to appear on the new model, which will feature Level 2 automated driving assistance system functionality from the start of sales late next year. However, Mercedes-Benz says it plans to offer regular updates via over-the-air software updates, opening the possibility of allowing owners to purchase Level 3 capability in the future.

Additionally, the Concept CLA Class includes a new Child Presence Detection system designed to mitigate the risk of young children being left in the car during warm weather. Using sensors and cameras to detect breathing patterns, it is programmed to first warn then ultimately trigger the air conditioning and sound the horn when it detects the presence of a child without an adult.

MB Concept CLA rear 3.4 screenshot.png

MB Concept CLA rear 3.4 screenshot

 

 

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