At the 2012 LA Auto Show Mercedes-Benz wowed the crowds with a futuristic interpretation of their iconic G-Class. However the Ener-G-Force concept also served another purpose, as it was the 1:1 real-life model of Mercedes’ entry to the 2012 LA Design Challenge competition. Usually the most trouble the various design studios participating in the annual Design Challenge go through is to knock up a few renders, and if they’re feeling particularly ambitious they create a digital model. But this is the second time Mercedes has gone to the effort of building a full-size model for the contest – the last time being the 2010 Mercedes Biome.
The Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force was designed at the company’s Advanced Design Studio in Carlsbad, California. The idea was to turn the 2025 Police version of the concept – used in the competition – into a civilian vehicle. Inspiration for the Ener-G-Force came from the G-Class, which has been around since 1979 and to this day retains the same boxy, utilitarian profile. Clearly the futuristic and curvaceous Ener-G-Force concept shares little directly with the current G-Class, but there are numerous details which show the connection.
Designer Hubert Lee said of the concept: “Of course we wanted to take a clear step forward, but we also wanted the G’s characteristic features.” The Ener-G-Force has a similar profile, however with a high shoulder line and scaled-down glass areas. Like the G-Class, the Ener-G-Force sports a front with an expressive radiator grille that incorporates the headlamps. LEDs in the headlamps form lamp units in the shape of a G. The front indicators and position lights are mounted on top of the wings as a significant G-Class element. The prominent feature at the rear is a slightly off-centre pull-out compartment whose cover takes up the characteristic look of the spare wheel carrier of the original G-Class.
Key to the Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force concept was the integration of an environmentally friendly powersource. According to Mercedes-Benz the drivetrain consists of recycled water which is stored in tanks on the roof. This is then sent to the “hydro-tech converter” which converts it into hydrogen for operating the fuel cells. The batteries are located in the sideskirts, and allow for an 500 mile (800 km) range. Four individual electric motors, one for each wheel, constantly adjust the power to maintain grip and stability.
It’s all a little far fetched, and the styling is way “out-there” for your average MB buyer. But the Ener-G-Force is a genuinely over-the-top concept, and in these financially difficult times that’s a refreshing change from the usual toned-down pre-production concept cars.