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Mercedes EQ S to be flagship in £9bn electric model blitz

Autocar logo Autocar 12/09/2018 Greg Kable

How we think the Mercedes EQ S will look

How we think the Mercedes EQ S will look
© Autocar

Mercedes-Benz bosses have approved a €10 billion (£9bn) programme to launch more than 130 electrified variants within the next seven years, spearheaded by the upcoming EQ S luxury saloon.

The plan – which involves an extended range of mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery EVs and hydrogen- fuelled models – was tabled at a recent board meeting of Mercedes’ parent company Daimler and received the backing of chairman Dieter Zetsche.

The goal of the massive project is to give Mercedes an unparalleled range of premium electrified models, which will help to significantly reduce the company’s average fleet emissions ahead of a series of increasingly strict EU CO2 emission regulations starting from 2021.

The model assault will be split across the firm’s three electrified brands: the pure-electric EQ range, mild-hybrid EQ Boost, and EQ Power plug-in hybrids.

New Mercedes-Benz EQ C: all-electric SUV revealed

Mercedes has already confirmed the first three models in the full-electric EQ range. It will begin with the recently unveiled EQ C SUV. This will be followed by a production version of the EQ A hatchback concept seen at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.

a car parked on the side of a road © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

Those two models will then be joined in 2020 by the upmarket EQ S, which was spotted testing in early prototype guise at Mercedes’ engineering HQ in Stuttgart, Germany, recently. As its name suggests, the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan rival will offer a similar level of luxury, comfort and features to the traditional S-Class saloon.

Whereas the EQ C and EQ A are based on modified GLC and A-Class platforms – known internally as MEA1 and MEA1.5 – respectively, the EQ S will use a dedicated EV platform.

Named MEA2, the new platform makes heavy use of aluminium and is designed with a fully flat floor, as is common with many EV-only designs. This has allowed Mercedes to give the EQ S different proportions from the E-Class and S-Class, between which it will sit in size.

The EQ S will be a similar size to the current CLS. It will feature a shorter bonnet and ultra-short overhangs, which, company insiders say, contribute to “a whole new dimension in interior packaging”.

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQ S to battle Porsche Taycan and next Jaguar XJ

The spy shots also show that the EQ S has a heavily raked windscreen compared with the C-Class, which combined with the shorter overhangs should give the model greater interior space. The roofline echoesthe design of the latest CLS, although secrecy surrounds the rear of the new model, which was completely hidden on the prototype cars.

The EQ S is expected to be powered by twin electric motors – one on each axle – giving permanent four-wheel drive. A similar set-up in the EQ C delivers 402bhp and 564lb ft of torque.

Mercedes teased the EQ C ahead of launch, showing off its development mules with hashtag-branded camouflage © Autocar Mercedes teased the EQ C ahead of launch, showing off its development mules with hashtag-branded camouflage

Although the production version of the EQ C has now been revealed, deliveries of the first fully-electric Mercedes are not expected to begin until June 2019. The SUV has a kerb weight of 2425kg and it will initially feature an 80kWh lithium ion battery – around 10kWh less than the battery in the Jaguar I-Pace.

The EQ C will be built at Mercedes’ factory in Bremen, Germany, while models for the Chinese market will be made at the factory owned by the joint venture between the firm and its Chinese partner Beijing Automotive in Beijing, China, in 2020. The EQ S is set to be built at Mercedes’ Sindelfingen factory in Stuttgart.

Although these are the only three EQ models confirmed to be going on sale by 2022, the firm has committed to 10 pure EVs in the longer term. According to well-placed sources within Mercedes, the second wave of EQ models is currently in the conceptual stages of design.

Mercedes-Benz set to release four EVs by 2020

These include a compact four-door Tesla Model 3 rival based around the recently unveiled A-Class saloon, a compact SUV similar in size to the GLB due in 2019 and a flagship electric sports car from the Mercedes-AMG performance division.

Although none of the next wave of EQ models has advanced to committed project status yet, Autocar has been told that Mercedes is proceeding with plans to launch all of them by the end of the second stage of its electrification plan in 2025.

The final component in the currently planned EQ product range is the GLC Fuel Cell, which will be offered on a limited lease basis later this year. It is based around the standard GLC and uses a fuel cell stack, hydrogen tank, lithium ion battery and plug-in charging for a zero-emission range of about 310 miles.

The EQ nameplate will also be used for Mercedes city car sub-brand Smart’s pure-electric Fortwo EQ Electric Drive, Fortwo cabrio EQ Electric Drive and Forfour EQ Electric Drive. All three of these models are due to receive a facelift in 2019, including larger batteries to extend their range.

While the dedicated EQ models will offer the biggest reduction in fleet average emissions, the board has also approved a broad-based hybridisation strategy that will include “well over 100” variants by the end of 2022. Under the plan, existing models will be offered with the choice of mild-hybrid EQ Boost or plug-in hybrid EQ Power drivetrains.

Mercedes has already launched a limited number of new-generation mild-hybrid EQ Boost models. Each features a 48V electrical system and integrated starter motor capable of providing electrical boosting qualities under acceleration. Such systems are available on models that include the E-Class and CLS.

Difficulties in sourcing lithium ion batteries for the new-generation plug-in hybrid, due to production bottlenecks at Daimler subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive, has held back the introduction of EQ Power models. Initially revealed at the Geneva motor show in March and set for launch this year, the C300e, C300de, E300e and E300de EQ Power plug-in hybrids are now not planned to reach UK dealers until 2019.

Following these new plug-in hybrids into Mercedes showrooms next year will be the A250e 4Matic and B250e 4Matic EQ Power.

Both use a fourth-generation hybrid system in which the electric motor sits within the rear axle and provides drive exclusively to the rear wheels. As in standard A-Class and B-Class models, though, the front wheels are powered by a combustion engine, in the form of the Renault-sourced 1.3-litre four-cylinder used in the A200.

Another model included in the EQ Power line-up is AMG’s upcoming 1000bhp-plus Project One hypercar. Despite being revealed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show alongside the EQ A hatchback concept, it is not planned for UK delivery until 2019.

Mercedes’ split electrification strategy and brands can also be seen in its current motorsport programmes. Its 2018 Formula 1 car, in which Lewis Hamilton is leading the championship, is officially titled the W09 EQ Power+ to reflect its hybrid powertrain. It will also run a works squad – labelled the Mercedes-Benz EQ Team – in the all-electric Formula E from the 2019/2020 season onwards. 

What the Mercedes EQ C will have to beat: 

Tesla Model X, On sale: now:

This large SUV can’t match traditionally powered rivals for ride and build quality but impresses for its cleverness, pace and interior space. Tesla is developing a Model Y small SUV.

Jaguar I-Pace, On sale: now:

Jaguar’s first EV has beaten the Tesla Model S in an Autocar twin test. It’s both an excellent EV and one of the best Jaguars in years. The I-Pace features 394bhp and a 90kWh lithium ion battery.

Audi E-tron, On sale: 2019:

The E-tron had been due to launch this month but ‘organisational issues’ have delayed it until mid-September. It’s built on the VW Group’s MLB platform and should have a 248-mile range.

BMW iX3, On sale: 2020:

Shown in concept form at the Beijing motor show this year, the iX3 is set to produce more than 270bhp, with a 70kWh battery giving a 248-mile range. It will be BMW’s third pure EV.

Read more 

New Mercedes-Benz EQ C: all-electric SUV revealed

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQ S to battle Porsche Taycan and next Jaguar XJ

Mercedes-Benz set to release four EVs by 2020

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