New details on the first Mercedes CLA electric and the MMA platform

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Mercedes is working on a new platform called MMA for models smaller than the current generation C-Class, designed primarily for electric propulsion but which can also accommodate the new generation of internal combustion engines. Electric versions will use the new, cheaper lithium-iron-phosphate battery. Several models will be developed on the MMA platform and electric Mercedes CLA will be the first one in 2024.

At the shareholder meeting on 6 October 2020, Mercedes announced the MMA platform for compact and mid-size models (from compact up to the C-Class) with oil-cooled synchronous electric motors, a two-speed gearbox, and an 800V network for fast charging.

According to Markus Schafer, head of development at Mercedes, the MMA platform has been developed “electric first” but will be able to use an internal combustion engine as a range extender in countries where the charging network is not sufficiently developed. At the presentation of the MMA platform, it was made very clear that there is space for an internal combustion engine in the front.

The combustion engines will come from the new cooperation between Mercedes and Geely started in the autumn of 2020. They will have 3- and 4-cylinder configurations and can be installed both transversely and longitudinally which means they are suitable for both the compact range and the C-Class. The new engines will replace the powertrains supplied by Renault.

Then, in May 2022, Mercedes officially announced that the first model on the MMA platform will be the third generation CLA, which will have both electric and plug-in Hybrid versions and will debut in 2024. The upcoming electric CLA will also take design elements from the Mercedes EQXX concept noted for its exceptional aerodynamics.

A few days ago at a dealer event in Vancouver, Canada, Dimitris Psillakis, Mercedes USA CEO, reconfirmed that the Mercedes CLA will be the first electric model on the MMA platform and that the second model will be an electric crossover with the size of the GLC (successor to the EQC??).

The MMA platform will also underpin the future Mercedes EQA and EQB generations. These will receive a facelift later this year and will continue on the conventional MFA II platform until 2025 when will replaced with a new generation.

Since the A-Class sedan will dissapear at the end of the cureent lifecycle in 2025, Mercedes is considering a sedan SUV version, a so-called SUL (Sport Utility Limousine). The B-Class will also disappear because customers prefer SUVs to minivans.

So, the future compact range will consist in the future of the CLA, EQA/GLA, and EQB/GLB. For China, there will be long-wheelbase versions of the CLA Coupe and GLB.

Mercedes announced that the future compact range will have only 4 models without specifying them clearly. At the time, it looked like the four models would be CLA, GLA, GLB, and CLA Shooting Brake. But it looks like Mercedes will drop the CLA Shooting Brake which might only be offered in China and keep the A-Class hatchback.

Although it is a premium manufacturer, cost pressure is huge in the electric segment and Ola Kallenius, Mercedes CEO, confirmed in an interview as early as October 2021 that Mercedes will also use cheaper Lithium-iron phosphate batteries on the MMA platform. There will probably be cheaper base versions with smaller batteries that will use this battery chemistry. For example, Tesla uses lithium-iron phosphate batteries in the base Model 3 with the small 60 kWh battery, supplied by Chinese giant CATL. CATL is also a supplier for the Mercedes EQS for which it supplies the Li-Ion battery.

Lithium-iron phosphate batteries have a slightly lower energy density than Li-Ion batteries but are more resistant to more charging cycles and are less likely to catch fire if they overheat. In the same time, with the new intelligent packaging, the difference in the energy density compared with Li-Ion batteries has been reduced dramatically.

German newspaper Handelsblatt also reported that Mercedes plans to introduce Level 3 Drive Pilot autonomous driving from the S-Class and EQS to the MMA platform. Thus, internal sources announce that Mercedes engineers have provided space for the Lidar radar in the MMA platform.