The Assault on Tesla’s Electric Luxury Vehicles Dominance Is Getting Closer
Mercedes-Benz’s first model produced under the automaker’s new electric EQC sub-brand was unveiled at an event in Sweden last week. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic is an all-wheel-drive, all-electric crossover SUV that Mercedes says it estimates will get about 280 miles per charge. But that estimate is based on the overly optimistic European NEDC standard. For comparison, Jaguar’s I-Pace crossover is rated for 300 miles with NEDC but has an USEPA rating of 240 miles.
The EQC will face off against Tesla’s Model X and the I-Pace, as well as forthcoming electric crossovers from BMW and Audi. Porsche has an all-electric crossover car on the way, also.
Under the New Sheetmetal
Power for the EQC 400 4Matic comes from two asynchronous electric motors; one placed at each axle for dual-motor all-wheel drive with a combined output of 402 horsepower and 564 pounds-feet of torque. While each motor unit includes a fixed-ratio transmission and differential, the two are not identical. The front is tuned for maximum efficiency at low and medium speeds, while the rear kicks in for extra sporting performance. Mercedes says 0-60 mph arrives in 4.9 seconds, while the top speed is an electronically-limited 112 mph.
Drivers can select regenerative braking strength using two shift paddles on the back of the steering wheel. To optimize the trade-off between range and power, EQC drivers can select among five different drive modes: Comfort, Eco, Max Range, Sport, and Individual.
Meanwhile, an 80-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is housed in the floor. The EQC comes with a 7.4-kilowattt onboard charger, which allows it to plug in at a number of different charging sources. Mercedes doesn’t give estimates for charge time with the slowest AC chargers, but did say with the EQC’s standard DC fast charging capability the battery can be charged from 10 percent up to 80 percent in around 40 minutes.
It Looks Like A Regular Mercedes-Benz Crossover SUV
In profile, the EQC doesn’t look too different from the mid-size GLC 300 crossover SUV. It sits on the same platform of the GLC 300, however it is about four inches longer at 187.4 inches. But unique front and rear ends help identify this as the battery-electric variant.
The EQC receives a chrome grille with daytime running lights that are accompanied with an LED Light Band, which in low-light conditions will look almost like an uninterrupted light strip across the front of the car. Visually lowered, thanks to the black lower bumper trim, side trim, and rear bumper trim, the EQC makes the most of its stance with a low roof spoiler. High-gloss aluminum trim strips frame the side windows, and there are 19- to 21-inch light alloy wheels, fitted flush with the wheel arches for aerodynamic performance.
New Design for the EQC Interior
As you’d expect, there’s an abundance of leather, aluminum, and natural grain wood inside, though the automaker says it’s been given a special EQ distinction—a textile-like structure in metallic silver grey with rose-gold highlights. The cabin has a more avant-garde look than the traditional Mercedes. The dashboard is pared back compared to the normal Mercedes style, with the upper section reduced down and the whole dash using an asymmetrical wing profile.
Two 10.25-inch displays dominate the dashboard—one for the driver’s instrumentation, the other for the rest of the systems–controlled by a touchpad in the center console or by voice. New key-shaped, rose-gold colored louvers and rectangular vents direct air flow.
The EQC is packed to the sunroof with features. Notable is a dedicated electric-vehicle-specific navigation system. It takes factors like current range, energy consumption, route topography and traffic, as well as available charging stations, into account to chart the most efficient course to a destination.
Mercedes also uses the EQC to showcase its safety and assistance technology. There’s Active Brake Assist as standard, while the Driver Assistance package adds evasive steering assist, Pre-Safe Plus for rear crashes, blind-spot assistance with warnings if you’re about to open the door into a car or cyclist, and more.
How Will the Electric Luxury Battle Play Out?
Only time will tell just how well the 2020 EQC 400 4Matic and other luxury electric models are received. But going in they will soon have an advantage over Tesla. Tesla buyers will lose the full federal $7,500 credit by the end of 2018 unless the law is changed. It will be reduced to $3,750 for the first half of 2019 and $1,875 in the second half of 2019.
Luxury automakers who are just now beginning to introduce their electric crossovers and cars will have several years before their full tax credit expires. This could be a big negative hit for Tesla and topple the California automaker as the leader in electric vehicle sales.
EQC production will start in 2019 in Germany, and it will eventually spread to China and potentially to the company’s U.S. plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, down the road. Pricing for the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic will be announced closer to its arrival at U.S. dealers in early 2020.
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