Mercedes-Benz has flipped the switch on its first production series electric car. In the process the company has most likely also flipped the bird to Tesla. The sub-brand ‘EQ’ was announced at the Paris Motor show in 2016, but here in Stockholm, Sweden the first model has been unveiled. Known as the EQC this crossover SUV will have an electric range of 450 km and be built alongside mainstream Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Australia won’t be the first to score it but we’re told it will be good to go in the second half of 2019. This won’t be some ambitious, hollow prediction either. Mercedes-Benz has spent 10 billion (AUD16 billion) Euros getting the new brand onto its assembly line. Australian pricing is yet to be formally announced but we’ve managed to ascertain it will fall in the $100,000 – $150,000 range, perhaps with just one variant available.
Typically for an EV car there’s a compact electric drivetrain at each axle that produces a combined output of 300kW / 765Nm. This sends the 2.4-tonne ECQ to 100km/h in 5.1-seconds. The floor mounted lithium-ion battery can store up to 80 kWh of power.
The EQC announced in Stockholm is all-wheel drive and features the latest Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) multimedia system, launched on the new A-Class recently. Battery recuperation can be customised via paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. A ‘D Auto’ mode can adapt according to your driving style with help from an ECO Assist program.
Available “Drive” or “D” modes in addition to Auto are “+” which is coasting, “D” which has a mild battery region, “D-” for medium and “D- -” which is “strong recuperation” or as Mercedes engineers described it to us today as “one pedal feeling” because you can drive the car almost entirely with just the accelerator.
EV vehicles can look pretty wild but the EQC has managed to maintain the typical Mercedes-Benz look, with just enough design excitement to announce its trailblazing arrival. This is a big car but has managed to maintain somewhat of a coupé look. It’s a far more attractive silhouette than the GLC for example.
It’s nice to see a conventional front end on an EV car. Essentially a large black-panel surface surrounds the Multibeam LED headlamps and grille. When asked why the car still had a grille, given there’s no need for airflow to a radiator and engine, a Mercedes spokesperson told EFTM “It needs to have a face”, going on to say “Without a grill a car looks anonymous.”
Along the top runs an optical fibre that connects the torch-style daytime running lamps. Making for an almost continuous signature lighting feature.
If you’re looking to identify a Mercedes EV behind you in traffic at night – it’s the one with the “Light band” running right across the front of the car – not just the headlights described above, but also there’s a light bar above the grille too so you’ll see a full straight light across the front, something replicated on the back of the car too.
Makers of electric cars love using lashings of blue highlights and the ECQ is no different. Blue stripes on the corners of the headlands and blue EQ logos distinguish itself as the ‘Electric Mercedes-Benz.’
The interior is befitting of a Mercedes-Benz, because it’s made by a proper, luxury car manufacturer. The driver-oriented cockpit is asymmetrical, clearly defining the driver’s area. The EQC scores remarkable air vents that are described as “high-tech, high gloss cassette housing flat air vents with key-shaped, rosé-gold coloured louvres.”
In Europe ‘Mercedes me Charge’ gives owners access to charging stations from numerous providers. The simplified process is done via one payment method, which is then automatically debited and listed in a monthly invoice, irrespective of borders. Mercedes me Charge also has access to quick-charging stations that form part of the pan-European network IONITY that was formed in 2017. This partnership brings together Daimler AG, BMW, Ford and the Volkswagen group that includes Audi and Porsche. This kind of collaboration is vital in this space and must have oil companies circling for a slice of the electric action.
Production of the EQC will start in 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen. Built in the same factory as other models, instead of a hastily made tent like Tesla and their Model 3.
When pushed today, Mercedes would not comment on production levels that were possible, or planned – only to say they would be ramped up to meet demand. To do that, the C-Class being built in Bremen can be scaled back with production increased in other C-Class factories.
For those looking for a Tesla “Scale” comparison, the Bremen facility produced 420,000 cars last year, and while that’s the whole place now just one line – you can imagine Mercedes know how to scale.
Customers can register their interest via an exclusive online registration service. They will then receive continuous updates about the EQC and broader information about the EQ brand.
But the headline here is pretty simple. We now have one of the historical car big guns producing electric cars en masse. Decades of knowledge and knowhow is exactly what the EV market needs. I firmly believe the EQC will be a tipping point when it comes to convincing customers that this is the way forward.
As corny as it is, this whole thing perfectly suits the slogan Mercedes have adopted – “Electric now has a Mercedes” instead of the alternative which would be “Mercedes now have an Electric”. Smart move.
EFTM is in Sweden as guests of Mercedes Benz Australia