Mercedes-Benz is about to re-write the rules for electric cars. Its all-new EQC is the start of a giant push into battery-powered motoring by the company that put the world on wheels from the late 1800s, and there are big plans for Australian sales in the back half of 2019.
The EQC is coming first as an all-wheel drive station wagon but there will be many more models built on the battery-powered platform - which looks like an oversized high-tech skateboard - from something in the A-Class size through to an S-Class style limousine.
“We’re going to charge up the market for electric cars in Australia,” the spokesman for Mercedes-Benz Australia, David McCarthy, tells Australian Business Traveller.
“The EQC is a vehicle designed, engineered and built without compromise to perform without compromise. For us, it’s the new electric platform and it's scalable."
“It’s coming to Australia in the second half of next year. We don’t know yet on the pricing, but we expect it will be under $150,000.”
The car was unveiled in Europe after more than five years of development by a giant team of Daimler scientists and engineers in Germany.
It’s been more than two years since the basic EQ platform - the Mercedes designation for electric vehicles, just as BMW has chosen i for its battery cars - was previewed in Europe with a promise of full-scale production by 2020.
Now the EQC delivers on that promise with the C pointing to a body size that is similar to the C-Class family.
In this case, though, Mercedes has deliberately chosen a station wagon body despite a worldwide trend away from wagons in favour of SUVs.
“The body design is, for the first car, to have the greatest reach. And remember this vehicle is going to be sold all over the world,” says McCarthy.
“Europe has a very big appetite for electric cars, as does China. And that’s only going to grow, as it will in Australia.”
The headline numbers for the EQC are a range of more than 450 kilometres, a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.1 seconds, 300 kiloWatts of power with twin electric motors and all-wheel drive, and a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 80 kiloWatt hours.
But it’s not the numbers that are important, because the EQC signals a mainstream move into electric cars that should be sounding warning bells at Tesla in the USA. BMW is soon to reveal its next generation of i models and Audi has just begun production of its first E-Tron electric car.
“We think it’s a game changer, because it will have the range, the performance, the dynamics, the quality and the luxury that people expect of our brand. And it’s electric,” says McCarthy.
He refuses to be drawn into a comparison with Elon Musk’s electric Tesla project, concentrating on the strengths at Benz.
“This is a brand-new platform, totally for electric, the result of many years work and observation. It’s a Mercedes electric car,” he says.
“We have volume ambitions for our electric platform that will surprise and delight our customers. Competition is in our genes, and it has been since 1886.”