MERCEDES-BENZ has today taken the first step towards its battery-powered future, unveiling an all-new electric SUV that boasts a Tesla-beating range and class-leading outputs.
Set to arrive in Australia in the second-half of 2019, the mid-size SUV – dubbed EQC – will cost between $100,000-150,000 and is capable of travelling “more than” 450km on a single charge.
To be positioned as a direct rival to the Tesla Model X 75D and the soon-to-arrive Jaguar I-Pace S, the EQC produces more power and torque than its competitors; its 80kWh lithium-ion battery capable of 300kW/765Nm.
That’s enough to propel the EQC from 0-100km/h in 5.1sec, despite a hefty 2425kg kerb weight. The battery pack contributes 650kg to that figure, its bulk made up of 384 lithium-ion cells positioned low in the SUV’s floor.
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Mercedes makes its batteries in-house, the unit created by the wholly Daimler owned subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive at a factory in Kamenz, near Dresden, Germany. The battery comes with an eight year, 160,000km warranty, matching those offered by Tesla and Jaguar.
The EQC uses two electric motors, one per axle, though the two units are configured differently. The front axle is optimised for efficiency and is used for light to medium loads, while the rear motor is biased more towards power and dynamic driving.
There are five drive modes available (Comfort, Eco, Max range, Sport and Individual) and also five modes for the regenerative braking. Operated by the paddles on the steering wheel, the recuperation progresses from D Auto to D+ (for coasting) thorough D and D- to the catchily named D-- (D minus minus) which allows one pedal driving.
Once the batteries are depleted, Mercedes says owners will be able to achieve an 80 percent charge via 110kW DC charging point in around 40 minutes, which is on par with the segment norm. Plugging the EQC into a Mercedes wall box (approx. $1700) at home will take between 10-11 hours to achieve a full charge.
Size wise, the EQC is very similar to the current GLC mid-size SUV, despite the electric car being built on an all-new modular architecture called EVA (electric vehicle architecture).
The pair share same 2873mm wheelbase (much shorter than the 2990mm I-Pace and 2964mm Model X), though the EQC is 105mm longer than the GLC, 15mm lower and 6mm narrower.
The similarities are deliberate. To future proof the demand for EV cars and to save valuable development dollars while the technology is still in its infancy, the EQC is built at the same factory as the GLC, C-Class and E-Class in Bremen.
The new EVA platform has 15 percent commonality with Merc’s existing MRA architecture (modular rear architecture), which allows the EQC to be built on the same line as the GLC and C-Class. The common parts are the previously mentioned wheelbase length and the suspension hard points.
Mercedes says the decision to build its battery-powered cars on the same line as conventional powertrains gives it the freedom to increase or decrease EQC production depending on demand.
Proportionally the EQC is quite similar to the GLC, though there will be little chance of confusing the two from a design perspective. The EQC’s styling is much cleaner, its roof line lower, and its body void of the character lines that feature prominently on the GLC.
Unique full-width light signatures feature front and rear, both of which will become a carryover element to future Mercedes electric cars.
“It’s our eyebrow, or our torch,” says chief exterior designer Robert Lesnik. “For the first time [in a Mercedes] we’ve connected the lights to the grille. Why does an electric car need a grille? Because it has to have a face. Without one it looks anonymous. We believe a Mercedes always deserves a grille.”
Inside Mercedes’ widescreen digital dash carries over (comprising of two 10.25-inch screens), though perhaps the biggest visual difference is found in the air vents. Unlike conventional Mercedes models that use round vents, the EQC debuts a rose-gold embellished rectangular design inspired by circuit boards.
As you’d expect, Mercedes brilliant and intuitive MBUX infotainment system features prominently, though it adds some EQC specific functionality like an EQ menu that provides information on charging options and energy consumption.
Another new feature is the ability for the MBUX voice recognition function to distinguish specific passengers. This allows your passenger, for example, to change their individual climate control settings by saying “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold”.
The significance of the EQC stretches beyond this single model. Mercedes is investing heavily in an electric future, the German company allocating 10 billion euros to establish a line of 10 zero emission vehicles by 2022.
Next up is likely to be the EQA hatchback before Mercedes focuses on sedans and SUVs thereafter. An electric seven-seat SUV and S-Class sized sedan are tipped to follow.