Mercedes Vision One-Eleven Gullwing Concept

As concept cars go, this latest one from Mercedes is one of the more eye-catching we’ve seen so far in 2023, and there have been some pretty good ones. It’s called the Mercedes-Benz Vision One-Eleven, and it’s first and foremost a reinterpretation of the experimental C111 concepts that were first showcased in the 1960s and ‘70s. But it’s not all about looks, this new study incorporates some big ideas for the future of electric cars.

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Mercedes has no doubt taken this opprtunity to shout about its heritage, but rather than sit on its laurels and live in the past, this new Vision One-Eleven is a forward thinking and progressive investigation into where the company might turn next.

What we have here is an incredibly low, and exquisitely sculpted sportscar that at first glance combines the retro design of the C111 with the modern racing efficiency of the Mercedes-AMG One. It incorporates Mercedes’ ‘one-bow’ design philosophy that we have seen on other concepts in recent years, and sees the entire bodywork consist of a single surface.

This is an incredible low-slung work of art. At its tallest point, the Vision One-Eleven stands at just 1,170mm, while the nose, with its wide ‘grille’ that is actually an illuminated screen you can use to display messages, droops to within what can be nothing more than 10mm off the ground. At the back there is an enormous diffuser underneath another configurable display.

It’s certainly striking, but that’s only the surface of what Mercedes has put together.

Mercedes Vision One-Eleven: simplicity and sustainability

Underneath those unmissable gullwing doors, which don’t half make this car all kinds of desirable, there are all kinds of interesting ideas. This is no standard sportscar, where you might expect to find a traditional 2+2 layout. No, instead you’re presented with two seats that are set within an interior that looks more like a soft play area. It’s minimalistic, with a raised section behind the two seats that acts simultaneously as a rear shelf, a central tunnel and armrests.

Here, we have two trains of thought, one for those who would actually want to drive their incredibly sleak sportscar, and those who would rather it drove itself. In the first instance, the seats act as you would normally expect, you’re supported in an upright position and drive with your oblong-shaped steering wheel and fairly normal looking infotainment system. Or, you can convert to ‘lounge’ mode, which integrates the seats into the sculpted interior and opens up a more spacious environment.

Ultimately, the interior is manufactured with sustainability in mind. The dashboard is made from recycled polyester, while the orange material around the rest of the cabin is sustainably processed leather. That dash houses another of Mercedes’ pixel displays which runs a ticker tape of QR codes each linking to content which can then be displayed in full on the infotainment screen underneath. The seats themselves are moulded directly onto the floor and offer what Mercedes says is an F1-style experience, and passengers are restrained by an orange four-point harness. The steering wheel itself is covered with leather, and appears to feature four controls, along with ‘state-of-the-art touch elements’ although what these are exactly is unclear.

Pioneering EV tech, and VR integration

There’s plenty of interesting stuff going on underneath the bodywork, too. The Mercedes Vision One-Eleven features a new liquid-cooled battery tech that has been engineered at Mercedes-AMG’s High Performance Powertrain centre in Brixworth, and a pair of what are called axial-flux motors from Merc subsidiary YASA.

Tim Woolmer, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of YASA explains: “Axial-flux motors are significantly lighter and more compact, yet more powerful than comparable radial-flux motors currently used in 99 per cent of all electric cars.

“Compared to radial-flux motors, they have considerably higher and more enduring power reserves, which delivers a whole new level of performance.”

This means the car could in theory generate equal levels of power and torque while saving weight and space – these new motors are roughly one third of the size and weight of a traditional motor – allowing engineers to reconsider how these EV powertrains are packaged inside the car.

It’s not just about what you can see on the Vision One-Eleven, either, because Mercedes has also implemented augmented reality into the presentation of this new concept. Don a VR headset and the car is recreated in a virtual space, but information such as upcoming roadworks, or even unseen hazards that would be blocked by the A-pillar can be brought into view thanks to a kind of x-ray mode.

Mercedes has gone all out with its latest deisgn showcase, but the looks of this retro-inspired One-Eleven concept are simply the draw for what lays underneath. We won’t complain should a new Mercedes sportscar that looks like this ever arrive, but what we can be certain of is that car manufacturers have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible for the future of EVs. Is the issue of bloated and overweight electric models soon to be an issue of the past?

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