Even before the first fully electric model arrives from Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming EV-focused EQ sub-brand, the automaker is already giving the green light to a second.
This second member of the Mercedes-Benz EQ family of EVs is a smaller model based on the automaker’s NMA2 architecture that underpins the brand’s compacts, including the CLA and GLA. It’s expected to be called the EQA and will follow the Mercedes-Benz EQC, which will start production in Bremen, Germany, in 2019 with a U.S. arrival expected later that year. That model is already nearing the final stages of development, and just this week Daimler also released some footage of a thinly disguised EQC in cold-weather testing.
The smaller EQA is expected to closely resemble the Concept EQA, a vehicle unveiled last September at the 2017 Frankfurt auto show as an all-wheel-drive hatchback. The concept was significantly lower as well as a bit shorter than the previous all-electric effort from Mercedes, the B250e, or B-class Electric-a collaborative effort with Tesla available on a very limited basis through the 2017 model year. The EQA concept featured a battery pack (from Deutsche Accumotive, a Daimler subsidiary) with lithium-ion pouch cells adding up to more than 60 kW, and Mercedes boasted of a 249-mile driving range (in the new European WLTP driving cycle).
Daimler has announced that it’s spending about $590 million to equip its plant in Hambach, France, for the production of the compact, fully electric Mercedes-Benz-with the flexibility to ramp up production depending on demand. The plant, which currently builds Smart gasoline and electric vehicles, will be able to accommodate varying production levels of EVs next to gasoline, hybrid, and diesel models. The move is a sensible transition for Smart, too, as the city-car brand is aiming to offer only electric vehicles from 2020 on; it has already dropped gasoline models from the lineup in the United States.
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And there’s more to come. Mercedes-Benz is developing a dedicated electric-vehicle platform that will offer flexibility in wheelbase, battery size, and vehicle type. The first vehicle from that architecture is expected in late 2020 or 2021, and Alabama has even been named as a possible production location. That platform will lay the foundation for the grand plan for EQ: a total of 10 all-electric vehicles to arrive in the eight or nine years after the EQC.
That’s not counting the broadened lineup of EQ Power plug-in hybrids on the way. It’s all part of an $11.8 billion expansion of the brand’s electrified-vehicle fleet, plus $1.2 billion to establish a global battery-production network, all with the anticipation that electric vehicles will make up 15 to 25 percent of global Mercedes-Benz sales by 2025. Tesla might have a solid lead on electric vehicles, but Daimler’s massive manufacturing network and engineering expertise could make it a force to be reckoned with.
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