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Mercedes Benz Takes Aim at Tesla and Unveils the EQC, its First All-Electric Vehicle

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【Summary】At an event in Stockholm, the German automaker unveiled its EQC, the first fully-electric vehicle from the Mercedes Benz nameplate set to give Tesla some serious competition in the luxury electric segment.

Eric Walz    Sep 04, 2018 1:34 PM PT
Mercedes Benz Takes Aim at Tesla and Unveils the EQC, its First All-Electric Vehicle
author: Eric Walz   

STOCKHOLM — When Tesla began delivering the all-electric Model S back in 2012, the company faced little competition from established automakers like Mercedes Benz—that is until now. At an event in Stockholm, the German automaker unveiled its EQC, the first fully-electric vehicle from the Mercedes Benz nameplate set to give Tesla some serious competition in the luxury electric segment.

"With the EQC – the first fully electric SUV from Mercedes-Benz - we are flipping the switch. Electric drive is a major component in the mobility of the future. We are therefore investing more than ten billion euros in the expansion of our EQ model portfolio, and more than one billion euros in global battery production." said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The EQC is a small, fully-electric SUV and a good choice to be the first vehicle offered in the upcoming EQ line, as SUVs are extremely popular with consumers right now.

EQ stands for "Electric Intelligence". The name is derived from the Mercedes-Benz brand values of "Emotion" and "Intelligence" The EQC is part of a growing family of all-electric vehicles from Mercedes-Benz conceived to meet all the requirements for a battery-electric drive system, including comfort, quality and range.

Breakthroughs in battery technology have significantly extended the range of electric vehicles, The battery for the EQC was developed entirely in-house by Daimler and is housed in the vehicle's floor.

The EQC has a compact electric drivetrain at each axle, giving the vehicle the driving characteristics of all-wheel drive with a low center of gravity due to its floor mounted battery pack. The intelligent control allows dynamic torque distribution between the two driven axles, creating the conditions for high vehicle dynamics. The asynchronous motors have a combined maximum output of 300 kW.

To reduce power consumption, engineers at Mercedes configured the electric drivetrains independently. The front electric motor is configured for best possible efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear one determines dynamism. Together, they generate a maximum torque of 564 ft lbs and 400 horsepower.

The EQC also comes with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), a new infotainment system with the ability to learn thanks to artificial intelligence. The MBUX anticipates what the user would like next. For example, a driver who regularly switches over to a favorite radio station on their commute home will automatically receives this as a suggestion.

In addition, if the navigation system detects a route frequently driven, navigation to this destination is already started in the background. For example, if MBUX suggests a gym in the navigation destination search screen, the driver only needs to confirm, and all the information about the route, such as traffic warnings, is automatically added.

The EQC also gets a high-resolution widescreen dash display with optional augmented reality technology and intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition which allows users to "talk" to the vehicle. The system is activated using the keyword "Hey Mercedes".

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The MBUX widescreen display in the EQC

At the press event in Stockholm, Zetsche fielded questions from reporters about whether the company could launch more variants as the electric market grows. Zetsche said that Daimler planned 10 electric variants that would allow Mercedes to cater to 60 percent its relevant electric cars market.

"My understanding is, when we're listening to the public and our competitors, that (our targets) are aggressive side rather than the defensive side," he told reporters.

Tesla is no direct competitor

At the time of its release in 2012, the upmarket Tesla Model S offered a range of up to 265 miles in a high-performance package. For comparison, the 2012 Chevy Volt EV could only travel around 35 miles on battery power alone. The production version of the EQC is rated around 200 miles, although the concept version was closer to 300 miles. Mercedes Benz believes Tesla will not entice buyers away from its EQ brand, despite the lower range.

Tesla had had virtually no competition up to now, which has allowed it to easily to penetrate the market, while enticing buyers to pay a premium for an all-electric car from a brand new automaker.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said on Tuesday that Tesla would be a competitor to the Germans in the electric cars market as the company had been "very successful in the price bracket they were addressing". However, he said that he did not consider any of Tesla's three current models as a direct competitor to the EQC.

Mercedes did not say what the initial production volumes on the EQC would be, however, he stated that the ramp up of production would be relatively flat.

Daimler aims to have up to 10 electrified models available by 2022, a target reiterated on Tuesday by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who hopes the EQC and its other electric cars will account for 15-25 percent of its sales by 2025.

The new EQC will be available in for buyers in 2020.


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