Mercedes-Benz’s brawny G-Wagen will get an electric makeover

2019 Mercedes-Benz G550
Bradley Iger/Digital Trends

The boxy, heavy Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a throwback to a bygone era, when off-road capability was more important in an SUV than connectivity or gas mileage. Yet this backward-looking Benz, known to fans as the G-Wagen, will soon get an electric powertrain.

Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, confirmed the electric G-Wagen in a speech at the Automobilwoche Kongress in Berlin, Mercedes spokesperson Sascha Pallenberg said in a tweet. However, no other details have been given. Mercedes plan to launch 10 electric cars by the end of 2022, but it’s unclear if the electric G-Class will be among them.

The G-Class could get a plug-in hybrid powertrain before it goes all-electric. Motor Authority noted that the plug-in hybrid powertrain Mercedes’ AMG performance division is currently developing would be a good fit for the G-Class. That powertrain will reportedly be based around a twin-turbocharged V8 and produce 805 horsepower. That may seem like an absurd amount of power for the truck-likethe  G-Wagen, but the SUV has gotten AMG’s most potent powertrains in the past, so why stop now?

Mercedes recently gave the G-Class its first redesign in roughly 40 years of production, but made sure to preserve the SUV’s old-school charm. It keeps the squared-off look fans love, but on the inside Mercedes fitted a modern infotainment system, including the option to fit two 12.3-inch screens side by side. Under the hood, Mercedes stuck with traditional V8 engines, including a 577-hp version in the AMG G63 performance model. Going from that to an electric powertrain will be a major change.

Yet an electric G-Wagen already exists — it’s just not made by Mercedes. An Austrian company called Kreisel Electric, which specializes in electric powertrain components, built one for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The company offers the same conversion to regular customers, complete with an 80-kilowatt-hour battery pack and an electric motor for each axle, good for a combined 482 hp. It’s part of a growing trend of fitting existing internal-combustion cars with electric powertrains.

An electric G-Wagen produced by Mercedes itself could have some competition in the form of an electric Hummer. A recent report claims General Motors is thinking about reviving Hummer as an all-electric brand, using the same platform GM is developing for an upcoming electric pickup truck.

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