Mercedes reimagines its iconic C111 as an electric-roadster of the future
Taking design cues from its iconic C111 experimental cars from the 1960s and 1970s, Mercedes Benz has unveiled a new sports car concept named the Vision One-Eleven. The model showcases a highly dynamic design language and innovative all-electric drive technology to cement the German automaker's concept of "Iconic Luxury."
Gone are the Wankel and diesel turbo engines of the past – in comes a powerful and highly efficient axial-flux electric-motor setup developed by British electric-powertrain specialists YASA, which has been a subsidiary of the German carmaker since July 2021.
"Our all-electric vision show car is the modern-day interpretation of the C 111, which was avant-garde at the time," said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Mercedes-Benz Group AG, in a statement.
True to the original but a thoroughly modern offering
The Vision One-Eleven's design takes inspiration from the brand's One-Bow design with a "low-slung front end to the muscular hind quarters, it runs in a smooth bow that endows the just 1,170 mm-high vehicle silhouette." The vehicle displayed features rather striking copper-orange paintwork.
The front end of Vision-One features a flexible external display with a 3D pixelated theme. The firm says that it can "interpret the characteristic round lights in digitized form and can also convey messages to other road users."
The flush-fit gullwing doors and the side windows, which are obscured by a pixelated pattern and opaque from the outside, are other remarkable aspects of the side view. Large-diameter wheels are perfectly tucked behind the broad, flared wings. The rear features a well-profiled diffuser and a display that mimics the one seen at the front end, featuring the same pixelated structure in the red taillights.
Interiors of the Vision One-Eleven feature a minimalistic lounge concept with two seat cushions integrated flush-fit into the floor, resembling a bucket seat in a Formula 1 race car. The controls and the steering can be moved to suit the requirements of passengers.
The pixelated display across the dashboard provides basic information, such as the current speed. For drivers, Mercedes is offering an augmented reality (AR) experience with its Magic Leap 2 AR headset, which is said to provide "high-definition digital content that is contextually integrated into their surroundings." Mercedes sees it as the future of beyond screen-based user interfaces, floating a zero-layer configuration of information, "including modules, 3D icons, and navigational mapping."
Additional contextualized information is also added to the control interface surrounding the dashboard and steering wheel and is related to real items like buttons or switches.
Axial-flux motor offers power and efficiency
YASA's axial-flux electric motor, which the Vision One-Eleven has two of, offers increased power output at comparatively smaller dimensions, making it an ideal choice of propulsion for high-performance electric vehicles. The variation in power and size is achieved by combining a liquid-cooled cylindrical-cell battery with Formula-1-inspired cell chemistry when compared to radial-flux motors which are widely used in EVs now.
"In an axial-flux motor, the electromagnetic flow runs parallel to the motor’s rotational axis, which is highly efficient. In a radial-flux motor, the flow runs perpendicular to the rotational axis. Compared to radial-flux motors, they have considerably higher and more enduring power reserves, which delivers a whole new level of performance," said Tim Woolmer, founder and Chief Technology Officer of YASA.
The smaller packaging lowers both its weight and dimensions. Axial-flux motors are far lighter than conventional electric motors, weighing only a third as much and producing the same amount of power. According to the firm, it only takes up a third of the space needed by a radial-flux motor. This gives engineers entirely new alternatives and design freedom for electric vehicles.
The axial-flux motors will be assembled at the Mercedes-Benz Berlin-Marienfelde plant, which will play a key part in the future development of all of its high-performance cars. The Vision One-Eleven remains a show car for now, with Mercedes Benz not committing on whether the same will go into production.