Mercedes-Benz unveiled a massive concept car Thursday night, a stunning vision of future personal transportation that becomes an instant candidate for officially most-talked-about vehicle ahead of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 is a 2-plus-2 coupe that is meant to point to the direction off the super-premium brand. At 18.5-feet long, it is roughly the size of some of the Detroit dreamboats that plied American highways in the 1950s. Its distinguishing features are its extended hood, elongated “boat tail” rear and gullwing, overhead-opening doors. It rides on 24-inch wheels.
Yet it is also electric and loaded with technology — making it sort of a nostalgic update to another, long-gone era.
“This is not retro design,” Mercedes says in a statement. “This is a reinterpretation of classic, aesthetic principles. At the same time, the design is something unexpectedly new — cool, technoid and reduced.”
As a concept car, it likely will not be built. But the fact that Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 carries the Maybach designation could signal that Mercedes-Benz plans to let its superluxury division branch out into other kinds of vehicles rather than offering a limited line of limousine-style sedans.
Despite the throwback looks and enormous proportions, Mercedes promotes Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 as having some surprising, cutting-edge technology.
It starts with the powertrain. The is an electric car with 200-mile range, powered by motors that equal 738 horsepower. The batteries are packed in a relatively thin layer beneath the floor.
It’s quick. Mercedes says it is capable of zero to 62 miles per hour in about four seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.
The sophisticated electric powertrain shows that European automakers are getting serious about the technology, said Karl Brauer, analyst for Kelley Blue Book who attended the unveiling. He says it shows they may sense they can capitalize on the market for luxury electric cars being blazed by Tesla Motors.
There’s more tech for the driver. The windshield, for instance, doubles as a transparent display upon which data and geographical information can be projected. The display can be controlled with hand gestures, a feature that is finding its way into production cars, such as those from Mercedes rival BMW.
A glass trim strip also acts as another way to display information for the driver, Mercedes says.
Tiny “body sensor displays” monitor passengers’ vital functions in order to try to determine whether it needs to warm or cool the car’s seats or whether the passenger might like a massage. Other factors measured include the color of the occupant’s clothing and whether the interior is bright or dark as a way of knowing whether to engage “emotional lighting effects,” according to Mercedes.
“Our sensational coupe, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, represents the ultimate in contemporary luxury. It is hot and cool,” Gorden Wagener, head of design for Mercedes parent Daimler, says in a statement. “With its intelligent appeal and reduced, technoid look, it perfectly embodies our design philosophy of sensual purity and our pursuit of aerodynamic efficiency.”
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