Mercedes-Benz’s G-Class, also known as the Gelandewagen, comes from a time when SUVs were made for farmers and soldiers, not soccer moms. That era is clearly over, so Mercedes is trying to imagine a future for its boxy off-roader. That future could resemble the Ener-G-Force, a concept car that Mercedes will unveil at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.
The name sounds like an energy drink, and the car has the anabolic looks to match. The Ener-G-Force takes styling cues from the G-Class and gives them an update. The boxy profile is still there, but now the wheel wells bulge out from the sides, and the roof is chopped, making this concept look like a futuristic urban assault vehicle.
The G-Class’ flat, rectangular grille is still there, but it’s flanked by more aerodynamic LED headlights that spell out the letter “G.” The turn signals that sit atop the fenders in the current G are integrated into them for a more streamlined look. There is also a random hood vent, which may or may not be functional.
In place of the production G-Class’ rear-mounted spare tire, Mercedes added a storage compartment for tools and equipment.
Putting the energy in the Ener-G-Force are four hub-mounted electric motors. They get their power from a hydrogen fuel cell, which converts water stored in the roof-mounted pod into electricity. The side skirts serve as either energy storage units or swappable battery packs to keep this SUV going. Mercedes says the Ener-G-Force has a 500-mile range.
The fuel cell powertrain may be a bit unrealistic, but underneath it all are the makings of a pretty cool SUV. With its off-road styling, a production Ener-G-Force would definitely make a statement. It could be the perfect antidote to Mercedes’ current range of staid and sensible sport-utes.
However, it may not be the statement Mercedes owners want. The Ener-G-Force looks more like a Toyota FJ Cruiser than a Mercedes, and that might not sit well with people who want a more premium look.
Mercedes is also trying to attract a traditional group of customers that don’t care about styling. The original G-Class was designed as a military vehicle, and is still used by military and police forces worldwide. That explains why Mercedes and the Los Angeles Police Department challenged automotive designers and students to turn the Ener-G-Force into a police cruiser, circa 2025.
Buying Mercedes police cars might cause some budgetary problems, and might cause the LAPD to run afoul of “buy American” clauses, but it would certainly make the cops look more intimidating. Luckily for the criminal underworld, the Ener-G-Force is just a concept. It will make its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens November 28.