The Mercedes-Benz EQXX EV demo is the latest flex against Tesla

In a direct and perhaps theoretical challenge to Tesla, Mercedes-Benz brought to the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday its Vision EQXX concept, freshly returned from a European road trip where it traveled 621 miles on a fully charged battery.

The long-range demo is the latest flex against Tesla amid its global expansion. Though the Vision EQXX is a concept and not slated for production, it raises the bar for what an EV can do by focusing on battery efficiency, lightweight materials such as aluminum brake discs and its 900-volt electric architecture. Of course, showing off what is possible in a demonstration is just the first hurdle on the long road to bringing tech from development to commercial scale.

With its sleek silhouette and advanced engineering, the Vision EQXX could pave the way for a Mercedes production car to challenge battery-electric luxury sedan stalwarts, including the Porsche Taycan, Audi E-tron GT and the anticipated revival of the Tesla Roadster.

The automaker also reiterated Monday that it plans to go fully electric by 2030, setting a target for half of its global sales to comprise plug-in hybrids and EVs by 2025. The move will help halve its carbon footprint compared with 2020 levels.

According to Mercedes, the concept car traveled 621 miles during a European road trip from Germany to the port town of Cassis in the South of France without needing to charge its battery. That’s among the longest distances ever covered by an EV on a single charge.

It arrived in Cassis with about 87 miles of range left, the automaker said.

“The route profile — from motorway to mountain passes, including roadworks — and the weather conditions presented the Vision EQXX with a wide variety of challenges,” the company said in a statement, adding that temperatures ranged from 37 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mercedes’ lineup will boast nine models by the end of the year, including electrified versions of its E-Class and B-Class vehicles. The flagship model is the EQS sedan, an electrified version of its S-Class executive sedan with an EPA-estimated range of 350 miles. The EQS will be available as an SUV for the 2023 model year.