Mercedes-Benz has taken a big step back to the future in its unveiling of the Vision One-Eleven concept.
The German auto manufacturer gives the nod to a previous iconic design, specifically the 1969 C111 concept, with the appearance of the Vision One-Eleven. Mercedes’ designers didn’t stray radically from the vintage lines of the C11. Retained were the two large, contrasting hood scoops, side vents and, most importantly, gullwing doors that made the C111 so iconic.
However, the past ends and the future begins with the Vision One-Eleven’s augmented reality capabilities. Mercedes has integrated an augmented reality headset which can be used by occupants to enhance user experience, combining the car’s physical interior with a digital interface.
For instance, AR makes the A-pillars and hood transparent thereby enhancing the line of sight for Vision One Eleven drivers. High-resolution 3D icons and a navigation system are displayed alongside a fully augmented dashboard and steering wheel allowing for what Mercedes calls “a visionary user experience.”
Maybe not as flashy but possibly far more useful are the Vision One Eleven’s advanced axial-flux motors which are also utilized in high-performance hybrids from Ferrari and Koenigsegg. Mercedes says these axial-flux motors have “unmatched power density far beyond comparable radial motors” and are more efficient. They are also lighter, weighing one-third of an equally-powerful radial flux motor commonly used in most modern electric vehicles. They also take up only one-third of the space of a radial flux motor.
The Vision One Eleven’s battery technology is equally advanced with Mercedes taking cues from the batteries used in their successful hybrid Formula 1 race cars. Mercedes calls the composition of the batteries “liquid-cooled cylindrical cells with a novel cell chemistry” which theoretically should provide more efficiency and range.
Drivers looking to make use of the Vision One-Eleven’s large power output can enable the “race” mode and transform the cabin to utilize an upright seating position. A rectangular steering wheel housing a variety of controls in addition to silver pedals is presented to the driver in this mode.
Adjacent to the wheel is a full-length LED display characterized by its pixelated appearance which generates QR codes in the style of early news tickers. Those codes display art, and important user functions, through another rounded display beside the steering wheel.
Feeling a bit drained by all of this new technology? Feel free to relax inside the Vision One-Eleven’s cabin. It doubles as, if you can believe it, a lounge. Eye-catching, diamond-quilted seats are present actually to drive the Vision One-Eleven but are also able to fully recline into a space in the rear of the vehicle to transform the traditional cabin seating into a single lounge area.
The outside of the Vision One-Eleven isn’t too shabby either with a vivid shade of orange accentuating the concept’s smooth, flowing lines and bulbous fenders. Teardrop-like bodywork shapes invoke the C111 but also resemble Mercedes’ current EQ electric vehicles, neatly combining the past, present and futuristic in one fell swoop.
Certain styling aspects of the Vision One-Eleven diverge from the C111, such as the lack of flying buttresses and hood-mounted headlights. Further, this concept features sharp aerodynamics running down the concept’s nose and side skirts, ending with a monstrous rear diffuser exposing the rear tires. These wheels appear much larger than those of any production Mercedes and feature an intricate pattern similar to that of an electric motor.
It isn’t a surprise the hood-mounted headlights were omitted, but adding an oval panel with a pixelated LED display to the front bumper wasn’t expected. Fog lights from the C111 are pixelated and appear on this panel, and serve as the concept’s headlights. A similar oval panel can be seen above the diffuser in the rear.
Rarely do boundless concept cars like the Vision One-Eleven see the production line. It’s most probable Mercedes conceived this concept to transfer new technology and design language, such as axial motors and lounge interiors, to future production vehicles.
Mason Bloom is a reporter for TheWeeklyDriver.com. When he is not writing about industry news, new car reviews or covering live motorsport events, he’s a high school student at Aptos High School on the California central coast.