Big interest from existing Mercedes owners is driving local demand for circa-$150k EV crossover ahead of late 2019 launch
Mercedes-Benz Australia is reporting high levels of buyer interest in its first fully-electric car, the EQC crossover, even though it’s still seven months away from going on sale.
The company has taken hundreds of ‘buyer registrations’, more expressions of interest than money-down deposits, since December, and already considers the entire 2019 production supply destined for our market to be effectively spoken for.
The EQC is around the same size as the GLC crossover, sports a 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack supplied by LG in the floor powering electric motors on both axles making 300kW/765Nm combined, sprints from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds, tows 1800kg, and is expected to offer a real-world (WLTP) range of about 400km.
Reflecting what the brand’s market research demanded, the priority developing the EQC was maximising refinement and driving silence rather than outright speed, and about increasing charging times (110kW DC charger capacity) while offering a competitive home-charging wallbox package.
Naturally it will take on the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron quattro from October this year, and will be ballpark on price. All Mercedes-Benz is saying for now is “under $150,000”, which for context would pitch the EQC between a Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and GLC63.
Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesperson, Jerry Stamoulis, told us this week that a majority of the initial interest was coming from existing Mercedes owners, people driving anything from a GLE, to an AMG C63, through to a S-Class limo. In other words, brand loyalty is proving to be a big factor.
Earlier this week the company hosted a world-exclusive event at its Mercedes Me store in the Melbourne CBD, giving prospective buyers a first-hand look at the EQC, in prototype form. This late-stage test car is basically production-level, and was fresh from hot-weather testing in South Africa.
A special guest directly from the Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart was Karl Scheible, the head of testing for the EQC program.
“We have driven a lot of test kilometres in the past few years, we have done a lot of 60-80 hour working weeks, and everything has been double checked, and it has been a very exciting time,” he said.
Scheible said the figure was around 2.5 million km, far more than a regular ICE car. His previous project was the GLC.
Karl has spent more time driving the EQC than almost anyone else – from testing in temperatures of -35°C in Sweden two weeks ago, to heat testing in California’s Death Valley, and test for “speed, reliability and comfort” in South Africa, Spain and Germany.
“The main differences are that we have no transmission in an electric car, and maximum torque at zero kilometres per hour, so it was a big challenge to find the perfect combination between drivability and acceleration, and a compromise between sportiness and comfort, and drivability,” he said.
By the end of 2019, there will be 12 EVs on sale: the Renault Zoe, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf, Renault Kangoo Z.E, Hyundai Kona Electric, BMW i3, Tesla Model 3, Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model S, Mercedes EQC, Audi e-tron Quattro and Tesla Model X. In early 2020 the Porsche Taycan and Kia Niro are expected to join.
The EQC will be the first of seven EQ-branded Mercedes EVs launching by 2022. It has a team here creating infrastructure and support for the wider EQ program, dealing with the EV Council and other peak bodies. It’s the same story for all OEMs in the EV game.
“Mercedes-Benz has committed to launching an electric car in every model until 2022, so you can imagine this is just the beginning of a massive onslaught of electric vehicles by Mercedes-Benz," said local CEO and managing director Horst von Sanden.