The all-electric Mercedes G-Class dramatically ratchets up the tech and off-road capability.

The all-electric Mercedes G-Class ratchets up the tech and off-road capability


It sounds like Mercedes has introduced an exceptionally luxurious and coveted addition to its lineup, often likened to the prestigious status associated with owning a “Birkin bag.” This suggests that the new vehicle is not only highly desirable but also exudes opulence and exclusivity, akin to the iconic Hermès handbag.


The arrival of the electric Mercedes-Benz G-Class marks a significant milestone for the iconic off-road powerhouse that has long been revered as a symbol of rugged luxury. While traditionally prized for its commanding presence and exclusivity rather than its power and capability, the transition to electric propulsion represents a pivotal moment for Mercedes-Benz, particularly amid the company’s recalibrated electrification strategy.


Mercedes’ meticulous approach to electrifying the prestigious SUV reflects a keen awareness of the challenges at hand. The electric variant of the G-Class not only matches but surpasses its internal combustion counterparts in terms of both power and off-road performance. However, what truly stands out is the chosen name for this electric marvel.


Enter the Mercedes-Benz G 580 with EQ Technology. Departing from the established nomenclature seen in all-electric predecessors like the EQS, EQE, and EQB, the decision to omit “EQ” from the name breaks with convention. Instead, the company opts to integrate the electric G-Class seamlessly into its traditional alphanumeric taxonomy.


From a branding perspective, this represents a noteworthy departure, but it aligns well with the vehicle’s ethos. The electric G-Class shares many similarities with its internal combustion predecessors, making it fitting to integrate electric models into the existing model nomenclature. This move underscores Mercedes’ commitment to seamlessly blending tradition with innovation in its electrification journey.


Nuts and bolts

The all-electric Mercedes G-Class dramatically ratchets up the tech and off-road capability.

Image Credits: Mercedes


Despite its electric powertrain, the G 580 stays true to its rugged roots by retaining a traditional ladder frame construction, a hallmark of trucks and purpose-built off-roaders. Additionally, it maintains a solid axle at the rear, a preference among serious off-road enthusiasts. While it does introduce an independent front suspension setup, a nod to modernity, this configuration is consistent with other current G-Class variants.


Visually, the electric G-Class closely resembles the upcoming 2025 refresh, with subtle styling tweaks such as a black grille and distinctive lighting exclusive to the EQ lineup. While minor adjustments have been made to improve aerodynamics, the vehicle’s boxy shape clearly prioritizes off-road performance over aerodynamic efficiency.


Mercedes has spared no effort in crafting a bespoke drivetrain tailored specifically for the demands of off-road driving, ensuring that the electric G-Class maintains its reputation as an unparalleled force in the wilderness.


A bet on off roading

The all-electric Mercedes G-Class dramatically ratchets up the tech and off-road capability.

Mercedes-Benz G580 with EQ Technology in desert sand non-metallic paint. Image credits: Mercedes


Here’s where the electric G-Class diverges significantly from its gasoline-powered counterparts. Similar to the higher-spec models of Rivian’s R1T and R1S, the electric G-Class is propelled by four electric motors — one for each wheel — positioned inboard on the SUV’s chassis. Each motor is paired with its own two-speed transmission, featuring a selectable reduction gearset that enables the EQ variant of the G-Class to engage a low-range mode. This low-range mode provides enhanced torque and control in low-traction situations, a capability not found in traditional gasoline-powered G-Class models.


The four-motor setup grants precise control over individual wheel speed, surpassing the capabilities of a conventional locking differential system and allowing for superior grip management. Moreover, it facilitates unique maneuvers, such as the G-Turn, a signature move that allows the G-Class to spin about its axis with the push of a few buttons and a press of the accelerator. This maneuver serves practical purposes, such as making quick exits from unexpectedly terminated trails.


Another innovative feature is G-Cornering, which enables the G-Class to modulate the speed of its inside rear wheels during turns. This functionality enhances the vehicle’s agility and maneuverability on tight, winding trails, surpassing the performance of conventional off-roaders equipped with locking differentials.


Notably, these advanced features are exclusive to the electric G-Class and are not available on models powered by internal combustion engines. If drivers desire these capabilities, they must opt for the electric variant. Furthermore, the EQ G-Class boasts impressive off-road specs, including the ability to wade through water up to 33.5 inches deep, six inches deeper than its gasoline counterparts. Additionally, it offers enhanced ground clearance and a steeper approach angle, further solidifying its position as a formidable off-road performer.


A hot EV in a tepid-demand world

The all-electric Mercedes G-Class dramatically ratchets up the tech and off-road capability.

Image Credits: Mercedes


If durability is a concern, Mercedes-Benz assures potential buyers that the G 580 with EQ Technology is well-equipped to handle rugged terrain. The vehicle features robust metal and carbon fiber protection surrounding its 116-kilowatt-hour battery pack, ensuring its resilience against water, dirt, and other environmental hazards. However, it’s worth noting that this model does not utilize the silicon-anode technology developed through Mercedes’ partnership with Sila. Instead, this technology is slated for integration into a “range-extended” version of the electric G-Class in the coming years, according to a spokesperson from Mercedes-Benz.


While the electric G-Class offers a larger battery capacity than certain competitors, such as the Model X, its range falls short in comparison. Mercedes estimates a range of 473 kilometers on the European WLTP cycle, translating to roughly 250 miles on the American EPA test, significantly less than the Model X’s EPA rating of 335 miles.


Despite its range limitations, the electric G-Class presents an impressive package that may entice enthusiasts away from traditional internal combustion models. However, its launch coincides with a period of declining interest in electric vehicles (EVs) overall.


Mercedes-Benz recently scaled back its ambition to become an EV-only manufacturer by 2030, citing challenging market conditions. Britta Seeger, a member of the Board of Management at Mercedes-Benz Group AG, noted the variability in EV adoption across different regions, particularly in Europe. She attributed a recent decline in adoption to the sudden removal of EV-related incentives, causing uncertainty among customers and impacting the brand’s sales.


In Europe, Mercedes has taken proactive measures by implementing its own incentives for electric vehicles (EVs), yielding promising results, according to Seeger. Meanwhile, in the U.S., a “lease loophole” allows many of Mercedes’ EVs to still qualify for the $7,500 federal incentive when leased, while dealers often offer substantial discounts on top of that.


While there is significant interest in EVs in the U.S., Seeger acknowledges that a majority of customers remain hesitant. However, Mercedes remains committed to its electrification plans, though specific sales targets for the G 580 with EQ Technology compared to other G-Class trims with internal combustion engines have not been disclosed. Seeger emphasizes the company’s flexibility in responding to customer needs, indicating that they are prepared for various outcomes.


The success of the G 580 with EQ Technology in the overall spread of G-Class sales remains to be seen, but unless it proves to be a total flop, its impact is likely to be significant. Mercedes has already introduced higher-performance, higher-priced AMG-branded versions of its electric EQE and EQS models, which have seen success in the market. This reflects the strong appeal of luxury and performance offerings within Mercedes’ lineup.


Given its iconic status and loyal following, Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius aptly describes the G-Class as “the Birkin bag of our product portfolio.” Whether the new EQ variant will uphold this prestigious reputation remains uncertain. While it boasts impressive off-road capabilities and performance, its ability to win over the discerning G-Class enthusiasts remains to be seen.

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