Hybrids & Electrics

Mercedes Is Electric Off-Road Serious With Portal Axle EQC 4×4

The EQC is Mercedes’ premium EV SUV that is based on the GLC. Priced to compete with the Tesla Model S and Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes has shoved it to the forefront with this electric off-road serious EQC 4×4. What makes this so intriguing is that it features a portal axle setup. 

What are portal axles? The lowest part of an off-road vehicle is the axle. Portal axles use a set of gears at the hub to raise the axle centerline. This adds significant ground clearance because now the lowest point on the vehicle has been raised by a few inches. For all of those lifted trucks, you see they are still restricted by the height of their axles. 

Now the EQC is sporting almost 12-inches of ground clearance

2020 EQC Mercedes in satin silver in the desert | MB

In this case the portal axles more than double what would normally be 5.5-inches. Now it is sporting almost 12-inches of ground clearance. That is good enough to dunk the EQC into 15-inches of water without a problem. Approach and departure angles are also increased to 31.8- and 33-degrees respectively. This EQC rolls Cooper Zeon all-terrain tires. 

Mercedes also took into account the sound the off-roader makes. It is programmed to give an “emotionalizing driving sound.” This is based on the accelerator pedal position and speed. The sound gives the driver aural feedback and while pedestrians can hear you coming thanks to external speakers hidden in the headlights. 

EQC’s stock 80 kWh lithium-ion batteries put out 402 hp with 561 lb-ft of torque

2020 EQC Mercedes in satin silver in the desert | MB

RELATED: Mercedes-Benz EQC: Here’s What the Electric Benz Will Bring

The stock 80 kWh lithium-ion batteries put out 402 hp with 561 lb-ft of torque. There is one motor in front and one in back. The front motor does the majority of the work while the rear motor is used when added performance is needed. 

One interesting feature of the infotainment system is a time indicator for the next traffic light turning green. Using V2X technology the feature is limited to certain markets.  Regardless, it is a time and economy helper that we’d like to see incorporated into more cars. 

A stock EQC has a range of 220 miles. But the added heft the portal axles add to the SUV should reduce the range a bit. At this point, it is somewhat immaterial because the EQC 4×4 is only a concept. But it is a compelling concept. 

“No production version is planned, but if there is great feedback, you never know.”

2020 EQC Mercedes in satin silver in the desert | MB

“We wanted to see how we can push electric vehicles to the limit; in this case off-road capability,” a spokesperson told Autoblog. “No production version is planned, but if there is great feedback, you never know.”

Mercedes should produce the EQC 4×4. It adds credibility to the brand and significance to the production EQC and GLC. Its off-road abilities wash over all of the Mercedes SUVs and act as a halo vehicle for the brand. Mercedes may not sell a ton, but the image boost would pay dividends.