Australia always seems to be late to the electric vehicle party, mainly due to most being built exclusively in left-hand drive. No such problem with the new Mercedes-EQ SUV, though, with both a right-hand drive plan and an Australian launch on the cards.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, head of Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, cheerily said “Yes I confirm, steering wheel on the right side for you”.
The company's local arm has since offered additional certainty, confirming with CarAdvice that an Australian launch will occur by 2020.
The Generation-EQ concept car is paving the way for seven models to be launched under the Mercedes-EQ sub-brand by 2025. A further three electric vehicles will be available through the Smart brand.
But electrification is not the only change. The EQ represents a fundamental shift for Mercedes-Benz in their approach to passenger cars.
“In less than 3 years this car will be on the market and it is more than just an EV”, said Weber. “Our idea of EQ is not to do just another EV.”
“We started going electric with only environmental topics. What we are looking for, is the best combination of performance and efficiency, and if that will be possible then maybe the shift from conventional car type to a new type of vehicle really can start.”
“It’s an overall new concept with as much as possible connectivity on board.”
This cements the first Mercedes-EQ vehicle as being a leader in technology and human-machine-interface design, as well as providing performance and efficiency, with more than just adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping of current-generation cars.
“For the vehicle of the future, with EQ, is maybe the ability to go autonomous
The improvements in battery technology will see this vehicle, “size-wise comparable to a GLC and offered in the same price range as a fully-loaded GLC with conventional drive-train”, said Weber.
So, what should we expect?
Weber indicated that the as-yet unnamed production EQ would offer 300kW driving performance and 0-100km/h acceleration in under five seconds. Faster than many conventional Mercedes-Benz series production cars.
As noted, the car will be a similar size and fulfil a similar functional role as a GLC SUV.
As with traditional Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the modular architecture beneath the EQ will not be specific to just one car.
“More than only one vehicle will be based on this”, said Weber. Indicating too that the platform could be adapted to longer wheelbases if the demand was there.
Mercedes-Benz are not taking this commitment lightly. With the announcement of the Generation-EQ vehicle came the promise of investment into battery technology and production, as well as pillars for connectivity, autonomy and shared usage programs.
Dr Weber summed up Mercedes’ all-in hand well, “our idea is the best, or nothing.”