Home » The New Mercedes G-Wagen Is America’s First Modern EV With A Solid Axle And That’s Extremely Cool

The New Mercedes G-Wagen Is America’s First Modern EV With A Solid Axle And That’s Extremely Cool

Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology, Edition One Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology, Edition One
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Mercedes-Benz sticks by its nameplates decade in, decade out. As the brand’s prime off-roader, the G-Class has become a proud icon in the company’s lineup. As the German automaker heralds the G-Class into the electric era, it’s sticking true to what makes it special, inside and out.

In full, the new model is the 2025 Mercedes-Benz G580 EQ. From the outside, you wouldn’t instantly know it’s an electric vehicle, just by looking. The rugged, square good looks of the Geländewagen carry through. It’s in the details that Mercedes found room to nod to modernity. The headlights, glowing grille surround, and wheels indicate that this G-Class is from 2025 rather than 1979.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The new model is a blend of the old and the new, and that goes beyond the looks. Indeed, there are some engineering surprises in the G580. As it turns out, where off-road performance is concerned, Mercedes has found that sometimes the old ways are best. We’ll deal with the G-Class’s most shocking feature first, and dive into the rich detail straight after.

Der GelÄndewagen. Elektrifiziert. The GelÄndewagen. Electrified.
Articulation is good up front, even with the independent front suspension setup.

That Axle’s Rock Solid

Perhaps the most shocking feature of the G580 is its suspension. Up front, it has an independent setup—so far, so conventional. At the rear, however, Mercedes has made the bold move to employ a solid-axle setup. In this modern, high-tech world, so many automakers have gone the fully independent route, but that’s anything but the case here.

Der GelÄndewagen. Elektrifiziert. The GelÄndewagen. Electrified.
The underside of the G580 gives us a peek at the goods. 

The electric G-Class uses De Dion suspension at the back. It’s a solid axle, but not a live one. The suspension has a rigid tube connecting between the rear wheel hubs, hence creating a solid axle. However, there are no axle shafts within the tube. Thus, it’s not a live axle, but quite the opposite—De Dion suspensions are sometimes referred to as a “dead axle” setup.

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In a De Dion setup, a set of half-shafts/axle shafts with universal joints are used to send drive to each rear wheel. This is more complex than a simple live axle, but it has an important benefit. It allows the differential—or motor drive unit—to be mounted directly to the chassis, with the universal joints allowing the half-shafts to flex as needed. [Ed Note: These are CV-joints, and I have concerns about their angle limitations. This is a big part of an independent suspension’s travel-limit — once those CV joints reach a certain angle, their lifespan really starts to dwindle. A live axle doesn’t have this issue, as the axle shafts are inside a tube; only the driveshaft’s joints have to flex as the suspension moves, but the driveshaft is long, so it can droop quite a bit. -DT]. This setup means the differential and half-shafts are no longer unsprung weight. Lower unsprung weight means the suspension is better controlled and more responsive. Any cuts to unsprung weight can help improve a vehicle’s handling.

Dedionewin Horiz

It bears noting that the unsprung weight advantage of a De Dion suspension is primarily with regard to live-axle setups. In vehicles with independent rear suspension (IRS), the differential is still typically mounted to the chassis for a similar benefit. However, IRS setups are often a bit heavier in total weight. They also often have drawbacks in terms of articulation, camber change, and complexity, which makes them less desirable for off-road use.

Other benefits of the De Dion setup include camber stability throughout compression and extension. Unlike most independent suspension designs, the wheel’s camber doesn’t change as the suspension travels up and down. This helps maintain better grip and can also cut wheel hop under acceleration. The solid axle can also be a boon to articulation, which can help a truck clear tough obstacles.

Der GelÄndewagen. Elektrifiziert. The GelÄndewagen. Electrified.
Notice how the rear wheels stay flat on the ground without camber change in this scenario. We’d love a better look at the rear end, but Mercedes hasn’t shown us much just yet.

There are drawbacks, too, however. The suspension is non-independent, so when one wheel hits a bump, it affects the other wheel in turn. Additionally, when just one wheel is in compression, the tilt naturally causes a sympathetic change in camber on the other wheel.  It’s also often necessary to include a Watts linkage or Panhard rod to laterally locate the setup if coil springs are chosen over leaf springs.

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The solid-axle De Dion setup was probably chosen for its off-road benefits. A solid-axle setup typically gives a vehicle better articulation and flexibility for tackling tough obstacles. It sacrifices something in terms of ride and handling on the road, but Mercedes was likely willing to make that tradeoff for the rugged G-Class.

Mercedes is a trailblazer, bringing this design to a production electric vehicle. It’s not the first to enter this space, however. Lordstown Motors explored using a solid axle on its Endurance electric pickup, though it used hub motors instead of a central rear drive unit. Sadly, the Endurance never really hit production. Ford also used a De Dion setup on the 1998 Ranger EV.  The De Dion layout hasn’t been seen in many modern cars, but it did show up on the Smart Fortwo and the Caterham 7 in recent years.

Gsfrrearviewunder
The solid-axle De Dion suspension on the Ford Ranger EV. Credit: Geoff Shepherd, CC BY-SA 2.5

Fundamentals

Let’s talk power. The G580 has four motors in total, with one driving each wheel. Total combined output is 579 horsepower and a monstrous 858 pound-feet of torque. That’s instant-on torque, too, available from zero RPM, courtesy of electric drive. That drivetrain will get the G580 from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. Top speed is limited to 111 mph.

There are no differential locks, since each wheel is driven independently. The G580 effectively implements virtual differential locks by controlling the torque output to each wheel automatically as needed.

Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology, Edition One Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology, Edition One

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Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology, Edition One Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology, Edition One

Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology, Edition One Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology, Edition One

Range is a respectable 293 miles on the WLTP drive cycle. That’s courtesy of a 116 kWh battery. That’s a touch smaller than some rival EV offroaders, but a smaller battery means the G580 has less weight to haul around. The battery is protected against water and dirt ingress and has a “torsion resistant casing.” Installed as a key member of the ladder frame chassis, it adds to the rigidity of the whole vehicle. Fast charging is possible at rates up to 200 kW – not lightning fast, but most people aren’t getting better than 150 kW regularly at any fast charger.

Underbody protection for the battery is vital, and Mercedes didn’t skimp in this regard. Installed underneath the electric G-Class is a 1-inch thick undertray made out of “an intelligent material mix that includes carbon.” Mercedes notes it weighs 127 pounds, but that it would be a full three times heavier if it was made out of steel. You shouldn’t have to worry too much about it falling off, either. It’s attached to the ladder frame with 50 steel screws. You could (and probably will) lose ten of them and still have no problems.

Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology, Edition One Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology, Edition One
That rear hutch isn’t a spare tire carrier, it’s a hutch for the charging cable. You’ll probably be able to spec it with the former, though.

There’s also an off-road gear reduction included in the drivetrain, giving the G-Class proper low-range gearing. This allows for slow and steady progress in difficult situations, with the 2:1 step-down gearing ramping up torque at the expense of speed. This required integrating the step-down gearing into each motor, since the wheels are all driven independently. Engaging the low-range gearing immediately activates the in-built intelligent crawl function.

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Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology, Edition One Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology, Edition One
The interior pretty much looks like a spaceship.

If you like party tricks, you’ll also enjoy the G580’s special features. The G-TURN feature lets the G580 turn almost on the spot. It’s basically a tank turn, where the wheels on either side of the vehicle are driven in opposite directions to turn on a dime. It’s only for use on unsealed or loose surfaces… at least in theory:

 

Mercedes notes that it “looks spectacular,” which is a fair assessment. You can only do two revolutions in G-TURN before it automatically stops, however. This should stop you throwing up from excessive pirouettes. G-STEERING is essentially a subtler feature in the same vein, where drive torque is adjusted to help shorten the turning circle. In this mode, the G580 effectively pivots in a turn around the inner rear wheel.

Der GelÄndewagen. Elektrifiziert. The GelÄndewagen. Electrified.

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Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology

Mercedes Benz G580 Mit Eq Technology Mercedes Benz G580 With Eq Technology

As for the fundamental numbers, the G-Class stacks up well. It’s able to handle a 45-degree grade on suitable surfaces. It also has a minimum ground clearance of 9.84 inches between the axles, and a minimum fording depth of 33.5 inches for water and mud. Approach, departure, and breakover angles are 32°, 30.7°, and 20.3° respectively.

Mercedes Benz Weltpremiere Der Neuen Elektrischen G Klasse, Peking 2024 Mercedes Benz World Premiere Of The All New Electric G Class, Beijing 2024
The G580 is perfectly happy on steep slopes.

Any fears that the electric G-Class would be a soft touch would appear to be unfounded. It appears Mercedes has invested the money to develop a stout and capable electric off-roader. Assuming it does what it says on the tin, it can carry the Geländewagen name with pride.

But what of the G-Class’s other grand duty? It’s true that this capable off-roader also has an important job in making rich people look like swanky badasses. Fundamentally, Mercedes hasn’t really changed the look all that much, and it hasn’t forgotten how to trim a quality interior. Thus, as a ferry for the rich and famous, it will do well.

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Der GelÄndewagen. Elektrifiziert. The GelÄndewagen. Electrified.

Der GelÄndewagen. Elektrifiziert. The GelÄndewagen. Electrified.
The press photos focus on the off-road aesthetic, though the G580 should be perfectly at home on the boulevard, too. Fashion-focused users might steer towards the blues or silvers, but it’s hard to deny how good it looks in the classic tan. 

We haven’t driven the electric G-Class just yet. Actual off-road tests will give us the true measure of its mettle. For now, though, it appears Mercedes is barking up the right tree with this New World version of its storied off-roader.

Image credits: Mercedes Benz except where noted

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Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago

I always thought that the shafts that spin with the wheels were the axles and the de dion tube was part of the suspension.
Sort of like how in a full floating axle you can remove the axles from the axle housing. Removing them or just the bolts is amusing prank or effective anti theft measure by the way.

But then again, I’m one of those people that always wonders about what happens when you take a door off of its hinges. Is the rectangular thing that you’re carrying away the door or the hole in the wall the door? Drives me nuts!

Also, why CV joints when a pair of universal joints 90 degrees out of phase would work just fine in terms of smoothness and handle more torque and articulation?

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

Is an egg an egg or is the thing inside the egg an egg?

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

I hate eggshells in my scrambled eggs.

Marantzer
Marantzer
1 month ago

Should be called the DB-Wagon. And what was Day thinking with saying the interior was anything but a mess?

Marantzer
Marantzer
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Certainly! Looks are pure subjective of course and I am allowed to find it horrible.

Flotopian
Flotopian
1 month ago

It is going to weigh more than 6000 pounds. I find that’s not extremely cool but extremely UNcool. What a waste.

Frown Victoria
Frown Victoria
1 month ago

That name is shameful. Not sure what the marketing department is smoking

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago
Reply to  Frown Victoria

I think it is terrain car in German, what are you getting at?

Frown Victoria
Frown Victoria
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

“G580 with EQ technology” is garbage name. That’s what I’m getting at…

Last edited 1 month ago by Frown Victoria
Engine Adventures
Engine Adventures
1 month ago

Virtual differential locks… aren’t differential locks. One of my bigger gripes with “off-road” EVs is that the traction systems pale in comparison to real diff locks. Having truly locked diffs that don’t rely on a computer to dictate how much torque to send to each wheel will out perform the computer any day. That being said, computer systems are getting quite good and for where these G’s will be spending their time, it doesn’t matter.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

…does it have a spare tire at all?

Looks good, even in spite of its ludicrous inefficient shape (even if I am not and will never be in its target market).

I will say, kudos to MB for setting a top speed of 111. Both a good amount more than anyone should regularly need, but also probably way below what its actual top speed might be (I would guess).

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills don’t need a spare.
They have 1-800-Mercedes.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

That is what I thought. What kind of rich g Wagon owner would change their own tire? And since the mechanic is coming out to change the tire, they might as well bring a new tire with them. And all the equipment to do it. Service call may cost a grand, but it beats getting your hands dirty.

Amschroeder5
Amschroeder5
1 month ago

A shockingly stupid ICE vehicle makes a shockingly stupid EV. Whatever

At least for parking lot duty this thing will be more efficient… slightly.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 month ago

People might be wondering, why EV the G-wagen?

Well…besides the push towards electrification and the benefits of that… the ICE G-wagen has been commonly used as a tax write-off vehicle (pun intended) for businesses due to its GVWR. The Model X also qualifies…. so I actually believe that some of the justification is for people who can have an EV G-Wagen that can be written off as business expenses.

This had to have been part of the conversation at MB corporate when they did the analysis.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
1 month ago

Is it just me, or does this setup not have any relation to a solid axle? It’s just IRS, right?

Last edited 1 month ago by Hangover Grenade
MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago

It’s not IRS, but in my mind it’s definitely not a solid axle.

Church
Church
1 month ago

100% not a traditional solid axle. Feels more akin to the those goofy twin beam axles ford used in the front of some trucks. Is this an “all of the problems of both and the benefits of neither” situation?

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
1 month ago
Reply to  Church

It gives you low un-sprung weight while retaining the durability and vertical wheel characteristics of a conventional solid axle – arguably the best of both worlds if those are the things you value most. They were heavily used in the 50s and 60s in racing and performance cars. Aston Martin and Alfa-Romeo in particular used them widely.

I don’t think I have ever heard of a De Dion being referred to as a solid axle, although that may be technically true… They are sort of their own thing.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rapgomi
Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago

45% grade or 45° grade?? 45% seems plausible, 45° is 100% grade and sounds absurd to my ears.

Edit: Nevermind, I saw the picture, that does look like 45°. You won’t catch me going up or down something that steep!

Last edited 1 month ago by Cryptoenologist
Church
Church
1 month ago

It’s not for everyone, but I highly recommend trying it once.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Church

I’d love to!

Please let me use someone else’s vehicle though. And without me having any liability for what happens next.

Last edited 1 month ago by VanGuy
Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
1 month ago

Where’s toecutter?

Thevenin
Thevenin
1 month ago

Hah. It’s like Mercedes saw everything on Toecutter’s wishlist and then did the exact opposite of that.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
1 month ago

Yeah…. And Its probably gonna cost $120,000+

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

Seeing as the base G-Wagon has an MSRP of $143k, I’d say that would be a good deal…

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
1 month ago
Reply to  Noahwayout

Base price of $199,999 maybe? Car prices are completely nonsensical for us mere mortals these days…

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill Garcia

Price: $SORRY

EVDesigner
EVDesigner
1 month ago

293 miles on WLTP gives me serious doubt about real world range.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago
Reply to  EVDesigner

I just checked used G-Wagons on AutoTrader and it appears that the absolute highest mileage G-wagons are covering an average of 32 miles / day and many are covering significantly less (15k over 3 years). I don’t see that as being a problem.

EVDesigner
EVDesigner
1 month ago
Reply to  Noahwayout

I’m not sure what settings you are sorting with, but here’s what I found with the 2019+(new model) G’s. Those seem like a lot more than 32 miles a day at well over 80k miles

https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/all-cars/mercedes-benz/malibu-ca?modelCode=G550&modelCode=G63AMG&newSearch=true&searchRadius=0&sortBy=mileageDESC&startYear=2019&zip=90264

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago
Reply to  EVDesigner

I averaged the annual mileage for the first page of used GWagons and it comes out to 42.69 miles per year. These are the highest mileage wagons but I suspect it only goes down from there.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago

Okay but how much does this behemoth weigh? I’m guessing 7-8,000 pounds at least….good fucking luck when some nepo baby or middle eastern prince out on the town decides to show off its tricks in the middle of an intersection.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Greg
Greg
1 month ago

how long until we see one stuck on the beach?

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

The closest these will ever see to a beach will be the valet stand at Nobu in Malibu or the Neiman Marcus on Worth Ave in Palm Beach

Goof
Goof
1 month ago

EU spec sheet says 6801lbs for the G580 EV for the EU market.

US one might be a bit heavier, plus options. 7000 seems on the nose.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago
Reply to  Goof

Repulsive

James Hathaway
James Hathaway
1 month ago
Reply to  Goof

For comparison, the ICE one is in the neighbourhood of 5500lbs.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Goof

Interesting that it’s under the 3500kg B-license limits for EU, whilst the Hummer EV1 decided to hit full-bloat ~9600lb (~4300kg).

Goof
Goof
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Wouldn’t that make sense? The EU is the home market for the G-Wagen, whereas the Hummer EV1 isn’t really sold in the EU.

Yes, the Hummer EV1 can be bought “across the pond”, but for example, in the UK there’s exactly one selling dealer who is bothering with the import process to handle those few customers, and was selling them for not $100,000, and not £100,000… but £300,000. How many sold in the UK? Dunno. How many sold in mainland Europe? I also quickly can’t find any info.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Goof

In the face of it, yes.

But it does highlight the bloat possible in US based vehicles which could be considered effective rivals for capability of luxury EV SUVs with a significant history of off-roading and military use.
Eg: did the Hummer need to be that heavy, and did this allow designers be less efficient?

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

Looks good, this is what people wanted from electric, looks the same, just isnt.

Inside teal coloring, hopefully goes away and that dash is DANGEROUSLY close to being considered a pop up imo.

How about the rear suspension? It’s double usb cord connection shows me any off-roading you do better be in sand and not in the woods, or your cords will be torn out. Strange imo, at least not covering them up somehow?

Anyways, this car is going to cost a ton, and for once I am OK with that. These cars always cost a ton and have never been anything more than a flex vehicle, 300k, be my guest!

Brodygator
Brodygator
1 month ago

Honda Acty and other AWD JDM Hondas also have this suspension setup.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
1 month ago

WOW, a De Dion setup was NOT what I expected. Way to go MB, for pulling a 130-year-old technology into the present.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

Looks like Mercedes has found the G-spot again.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago

minimum fording depth of 33.5 inches

Meanwhile, the Cybertruck, the “what if EVs looked like the future, do it all, pinnacle of engineering advancement pushing the industry forward” bricks itself if it gets washed juuuust a bit too aggressively.

GizmonicLoadingBay
GizmonicLoadingBay
1 month ago

I’m excited to see these out in the wild, even if very few of them get to touch wilderness. This is a great proposition for electrification – taking a big heavy, belcher that could use some torque and making it an EV. Our EQB has a lot of nice touches, good battery management, and a solid selection of EV and drive modes; so I’m pretty confident they’ll get this right.
I’d be less excited about the price and realize that a dealer walk-around is as close as I’ll get.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

Alternately, an unaerodynamic brick that will likely be used for longer distance daily driving and road trips is a terrible proposition for electrification.

GizmonicLoadingBay
GizmonicLoadingBay
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’m not going to disagree with that, but by the same token, it’s not a great proposition as an ICE either. I await a small car with the footprint of the Bolt and actual fast charging. Weirdly, the Rivian R3 may be the only US car in that category for a while, when it’s finally realized.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Check out the mileage on used units on AutoTrader/whatever. It appears that the absolute highest mileage G-wagons are covering an average of 32 miles a day and a vast majority covering significantly less. I’m not sure most people are actually buying these for long distance unless the mall being 15 miles away qualifies as such.

Uberscrub
Uberscrub
1 month ago
Reply to  Noahwayout

Thats a crap way of measuring average trip length and you know it. I just did the numbers on my car -since fall of 2020 (when my spreadsheet starts) Ive averaged 38 miles per per day based on number of miles and number of days. the average trip length is 55, with just 2 this week over 100. I don’t really know what you are trying to prove with that information – but it doesn’t help your point to use obviously flawed methods to make a point.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago
Reply to  Uberscrub

Might I remind you that YOU are not a sample size. I’m not sure of a better way to find an average than to sample used cars. You have an idea?

In any case, it still sounds like it would have more than enough range for even you.

Last edited 1 month ago by Noahwayout
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