By Andrew Ganz
Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 3:00 pm
 

The off road-ready SUV craze might have moved on for most automakers, but Mercedes-Benz has revealed what it hopes will be the ace up its sleeve for its robust Gelandewagen line.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show today, Mercedes tookken the wraps off of its Ener-G-Force concept.

The current G-Wagen, sold here as either the G550 or the G63 AMG, dates back well over three decades, although it has only been available through Mercedes-Benz dealers in the United States for about 10 years. Despite its age, the blocky, body-on-frame SUV has carved out a niche of dedicated buyers - but even Mercedes-Benz has admitted that the largely hand-built off roader's days are numbered in its current iteration.

Off roader reimagined
Though its proportions are still clearly related to the existing G, the show car is vastly more modern. Up front, its LED headlamps (which spell out the letter G) combine with the truck's trademark fender-mounted turn signals for a distinctly G look.

In place of the current G's spare tire, the Ener-G-Force features a pull-out compartment designed to hold tools and other equipment. Up top, rooftop tanks hold recycled water (presumably rain water), which are converted into hydrogen for the truck's fuel cells. As a result, the Ener-G-Force's tail pipe emits nothing but water. On the Ener-G-Force's sides, the skirts serve as energy storage units or swappable battery packs - and they contain built-in charge indicators.

With four wheel-hub motors, the Ener-G-Force is capable of traversing 500 miles of terrain before being refilled.

Aside from the powertrain tech, the Ener-G-Force also employs a 360 degree topography scanner on its roof that looks for changes in terrain in order to maximize spring and damping rates for on and off road use.

Serving police needs?
The Ener-G-Force concept also answers a question posed by Los Angeles police officials: What could a rugged police cruiser look like in the year 2025? The LA Auto Show will have several illustrations by automotive designers and students answering the question (see sketches at the end of our photo gallery above).

While we think that a Mercedes-Benz police car is pretty unlikely even in Southern California, Mercedes says that the Ener-G-Force could be a "safe cocoon" for police officers. That's probably true - and we admit that we'd be pretty impressed if an officer of the law showed up in a G-Wagen.