Mercedes takes on Tesla with all-electric SUV
Following years of rumors that Mercedes-Benz might unleash an electric model into a high-end market that has so far been dominated by Tesla, the German auto maker finally showed a major card in its hand on Tuesday when it unveiled its plans for a zero-emission crossover SUV called the EQC.
The vehicle will be the first in its EQ lineup — “EQ” meaning “electric intelligence” — and will start production in 2019 with an expected 280-mile electric range. In a series of statements, Mercedes described the EQC as a “muscular” vehicle with a new “electro-look;” the “design idiom of Progressive Luxury.”
Hyperbole aside, the instrument cluster and media display (or “infotainment system,” in Daimler’s terms) is a proprietary system called MBUX, which will learn user patterns and behaviors. So if you listen to NPR at the same time every day, a suggestion will pop up for that action during that time of the day, and navigation to frequently visited locations will automatically load in the background of the screen when it thinks you want to go there.
A lithium-ion battery will power the vehicle to a 110-mile-per-hour top speed and push it from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds.
Daimler again announced that it wants 2022 to be its electric year, saying that by then it hopes to have a total of 10 electric models on the road. The company also teased its plans in several auto show presentations and a video clip that showed a concept electric model driving around the Sicilian countryside earlier this year, but if Elon Musk’s Tesla troubles are any indication, building these battery-powered vehicles has not come easy to the auto manufacturing industry.
— Mercedes-Benz (@MercedesBenz) September 4, 2018
Analysts were quick to point out that the EQC announcement sends a message that Daimler is ready to take on Tesla’s Model X in the luxury SUV market — Bloomberg called the EQ rollout a “$12 billion attack plan,” and Reuters called the SUV a “Telsa fighter” — but with no price tag listed yet, it’s not certain just how the EQC will stack up against the $80,000 starting price of the Musk mobile.
For all the buzz, the EQC isn’t the only advanced vehicle to enter the fray in 2019, as German business news outlet Handelsblatt Global noted.
On Wednesday, Volvo is expected to explain what it has recently teased in videos as the evolution of travel — we have a hunch it could be a concept of an autonomous vehicle (but definitely looks like something straight out of Tron) — and BMW and Audi will announce new electric vehicles later this month.
Musk better get ready; it looks like Tesla’s competition is charging up.