Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler is speeding up its shift towards electrification.
The auto-maker remains on track to bolster its portfolio with 10 electric vehicles, but they’ll arrive three full years sooner than expected.
The battery-powered cars are now scheduled to debut by 2022 instead of by 2025, company officials have confirmed. That’s an ambitious goal, especially because the electric cars will use brand-new technology, but Daimler is investing 10 billion Euros (about $10.8 billion) to make it happen.
Daimler needs to make “fundamental changes” to remain successful, according to analysts who spoke to Bloomberg. Many of the new models will be part of a recently created sub-brand named EQ, an acronym that stands for electric intelligence.
The first one will take the form of a Mercedes-Benz GLC-sized crossover whose design will echo the Generation EQ concept shown last year at the Paris Auto Show.
"EQ is a product brand with a new lineup, and also a technology brand for the whole Mercedes group," Axel Harries, the head of Mercedes’ CASE division, told Green Car Reports.
Mercedes-Benz Urban e-Truck concept [photo: Axel Harries]
"You will see more and more EQ coming. It's not just product and tech, there is also going to be a whole ecosystem around it."
Not all of Daimler’s electric models will be luxurious, leather-lined Autobahn cruisers.
Mercedes-Benz’s commercial vehicles division has already announced plans to launch a battery-powered heavy-duty truck developed for delivery duties in crowded city centers. It will offer approximately 124 miles of range.
Twenty carefully selected customers will test the truck in real-world conditions as part of a pilot program, and engineers will use the data gathered to design a regular-production model.
Mercedes’ research and development department will simultaneously develop electric technology and internal combustion engines in the foreseeable future.
Executives believe CO2-emitting cars will stick around “for a transitional period,” and letting customers decide when to make the shift from gasoline to electricity is of utmost importance.
Mercedes-Benz EQ electric car concept [photo: Axel Harries]
Currently, Tesla enjoys a monopoly on the high-end electric car segment with its Model S and Model X.
However, the competition is heating up, and Mercedes is one of about half a dozen companies ready to tussle for a piece of the pie.
Porsche has promised it will turn the Mission E concept into a production model by 2019. It will be smaller and cheaper than the Panamera, and it will receive a high-power 800-volt DC fast-charging system.
BMW is currently rolling out hybrids, and it has delayed the launch of its next i-branded car until 2021 to introduce electric variants of existing cars like the MINI Hardtop and the next-generation X3.
Last year, Audi’s chief executive promised to release three electric cars by 2020, including a large SUV and a big sedan. Meanwhile, Jaguar is turning the i-Pace concept into a production car aimed squarely at the Model X.
Clearly, luxury electric cars are just a few short years away from blowing up to become one of the most competitive segments in the industry.
— Ronan Glon