Creative Design Director Huey Lee on the Mercedes Ener-G Force Concept

The Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen has been roaming the lands in civilian form since 1979. While it’s been revised some over its life span — a nip here and a tuck there — it’s essentially the same vehicle that’s been in production for 33 years. The Mercedes Ener-G Force is a preview of its possible successor.

The Mercedes G-Class’s boxy body, built over a ladder frame chassis, is as solid as they come, which is one of the reasons it’s been the longest running production model in the German brand’s history. Even after launching the GL-Glass — which was slated to fill the G-Wagen’s shoes — the G-Class continues to be soldier on.

One of the reasons for that is its classic shape. The vehicle’s box-like proportions and angular aesthetic combine to create an honest, straightforward and essential character. It’s a no-nonsense look that is as recognizable as some of the company’s historic sports cars. Replacing the utilitarian icon with a curvaceous ‘crossover’ isn’t going to cut it.

So how then do you design a replacement for such a legendary product? How can the identity of this well-regarded utilitarian soldier on into the future? Those questions have been on Mercedes-Benz designers’ minds for a while now, which explains why there’s still no successor to fill the void when the G-Class eventually gets put out to pasture.

To answer these questions we spoke to Huey Lee, design director at Mercedes-Benz’s advanced design studio in Carlsbad, California. He and his team developed the Ener-G Force concept as an entry in this year’s LA Design Challenge, but it’s more of an exercise to gauge public reaction to the G-Class replacement. With characteristic G-Wagen design cues re-imagined and re-interpreted, we think it’s a really solid-looking concept as well.

Check out the video above to hear Lee explain the concept’s design in more detail.


Founded in 2012, Form Trends tirelessly covers the automotive design industry in all corners of the globe to bring you exclusive content about cars, design, and the people behind the products.