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“Give you a lift?” Arnie unveils Austrian off-road EV

Arnie and the Kreisel team. Source: Kreisel/Martin Pröll

Hollywood hero Arnie pairs up with Austrian battery firm Kreisel to develop powerful off-road EV

A few years ago, the sight of action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger driving an electric car might have more closely resembled a scene from a film than a product launch. However, earlier this week Arnie unveiled a new off-road EV alongside battery designer Kreisel Electric.

At the edge of the Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbuehel, in his homeland of Austria, the former Californian governor took the “mutually developed” and designed Mercedes G-Class conversion for a ride.

“This amazing off-road vehicle as a clean and fast electric car? A dream has become real!” exclaimed Schwarzenegger. Certainly this is a change in direction from the man who brought us the Hummer.


Kreisel/Martin Pröll
Kreisel/Martin Pröll


Under the Bennett

According to a January 23 announcement from Kreisel, the electrified Mercedes G 350 d comes with a “realistic” electric range of 300 km on a single charge. Its “high-performance” batteries offer a sizable capacity of 80 kWh with an overall weight of 510 kg.

The conversion is not a simple switch, however. Several electric motors with reduction gears have been fitted directly onto the transfer gearbox, while the main gear unit was eliminated. The G-Class puts 360 kW (490 PS) on the road, meaning that despite an overall kerb weight of 2.6 tonnes, it will reach a maximum speed of 183 kph, and will do 0-100 kph within 5.6 seconds.

Unlike some EV designs, Kreisel’s batteries are distributed throughout the car: under the bonnet, in the rear, where it replaces the fuel tank and underneath the doors. Its recharging specifications are also impressive – Kreisel claims an 80% recharge is possible within 25 minutes – and it will accept fast charging points up to 150 kW.

To paraphrase John Kimble, it’s easy to see what to love about this car.

Schwarzenegger is to test drive the prototype in Los Angeles soon and will develop the vehicle further, in partnership with Kreisel.



Austrian innovators

Kreisel Electric – formed by brothers Johann, Markus and Philipp Kreisel – has already made waves in the EV industry thanks to a number of prototype battery conversions of production cars. In particular, using its own “centrifugal battery” pack it claims to have improved the range of a VW e-Golf by 130%, fitting 55.5 kWh into space built for the 24.2-kWh battery installed by the maker.

A similar conversion saw the company install a 90 kWh pack in a delivery van. Paired with a 120 kW motor, this allowed for a range of 300 km, while an on-board 44-kW charger enabled full charging within 2 hours.

Interest in the technology has been significant, with BMW, VW and Mclaren all knocking on its garage door. However, the company has so far avoided cash injections via venture capital or debt, opting instead for low-interest loans from the Austrian government, aimed at kick-starting start-ups.

However, those keen to get their hands on a G-class, or any other Kreisel model, may have to wait. According to the company’s website: “This car is a unique prototype and not for sale.”

Nevertheless, a Kreisel battery may find its way into a production EV soon – the company says it is currently in contact with partner companies regarding “mass production of cars” which would include its batteries. We’re sure “they’ll be back” with more news soon.


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