By now, it's well known that the German prestige brands--Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche--will all offer at least one battery-electric luxury sedan or crossover utility vehicle sometime between 2017 and 2021.

It's all in response to the startling success of Silicon Valley electric-car maker Tesla Motors.

Now another piece of evidence has emerged: Mercedes has confirmed its all-electric luxury car.

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The news came last week in a comment by the company's development chief, Thomas Weber, to German auto magazine Auto Motor und Sport, as reported by industry trade journal Automotive News Europe (subscription required).

The vehicle in question is "an intelligent concept for a highly attractive electric vehicle with a range of 400 to 500 kilometers," Weber said.

That translates to a range of 230 to 310 miles, though Weber was undoubtedly quoting range figures from the European drive cycle. U.S. EPA range ratings would likely be closer to 180 to 250 miles.

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive - First Drive, May 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive - First Drive, May 2014

Weber added that the car would be coming "soon," though other industry sources suggest that the launch would come for the 2019 model year, possibly as early as 2018.

Earlier reports have suggested that Mercedes is working on a project code-named "EcoLuxe," an electric-drive architecture that could accept battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrains.

Both a sedan and a crossover utility vehicle are rumored, paralleling the 2016 Tesla offerings: Model S sedan (with ranges of 240 to 275 miles) and Model X SUV (ranges not yet reported).

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By that time, of course, Tesla expects to be launching the first vehicle in its promised 200-mile Model 3 lineup, which it says will start at $35,000 before incentives.

It will also likely have refreshed the Model S in some more visible way--whether through design updates, increased range, additional electronic features, or all of the above--by 2018.

While Mercedes-Benz had originally bought a small stake in Tesla and contracted with the company to provide running gear for three models, it subsequently sold its stake and was removed from Tesla's board.

2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Cabrio, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aug 2013

2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Cabrio, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aug 2013

Nonetheless, it might be safe to suggest that the carmaker has learned a few things from its former partner.

So while Tesla supporters scoff at the Germans' plans as vaporware and future posturing, we might suggest that the Germans are taking the California carmaker rather more seriously than some people think.

Which all promises to provide a very exciting end of decade for electric cars.


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