Mercedes-Benz has detailed its plans for an electric future, which will see the iconic German brand be "ready to go all-electric" in 2030 "where market conditions allow".
Announced overnight, the new strategy sees an acceleration of Mercedes-Benz's electric vehicle (EV) plans, with plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles now set to account for 50 per cent of global sales, up from the 25 per cent target previously announced.
In 2030, the marque plans to be "ready to go 100 per cent electric where market conditions allow", with more EV-friendly markets such as Europe and China likely to stop petrol and diesel vehicle sales before regions like Australia.
Key to achieving Mercedes' goals will be a shift in strategy, from an "EV-first" approach based around offering fully-electric and combustion-engined cars on the same platform (with a skew towards electric power), to an "EV-only" approach focused on introducing electric vehicles based on dedicated electric-only 'skateboard' platforms.
From 2025 onwards, Mercedes-Benz claims "customers will be able to choose an all-electric alternative for every model the company makes", covering everything from the small A-Class hatch, to the all-new C-Class mid-size sedan, and the full-size GLS SUV (assuming these models aren't axed prior to 2025 to escape the deadline).
Prior to that date, the brand promises to offer all-electric vehicles "in all segments the company serves" by the end of 2022.
However, it's understood this goal refers to size segments, rather than specific model segments – for example, the new EQA small SUV would represent the electric vehicle for the "compact" segment, which encompasses a variety of models from the A-Class and B-Class hatchbacks, to the CLA coupe-inspired sedan, and the GLA small SUV on which the EQA is based.
Joining the already-revealed EQA and EQB small SUVs, EQC mid-size SUV, EQS flagship sedan and EQV van will be an E-Class-sized EQE large sedan later in 2021, followed by large EQE SUV and upper-large EQS SUV models in 2022.
An electric version of the iconic G-Class four-wheel drive will launch in 2024, likely to wear the EQG moniker. The new EQS SUV will also spawn an ultra-luxury Maybach version in the years following its launch.
In 2024, Mercedes-Benz will launch its final new platform capable of supporting internal combustion engines – known as Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture – which will primarily underpin the next generation of Mercedes' compact cars and SUVs including the A-Class, along with a selection of larger mid-size cars (which include the C-Class and GLC).
From 2025, all new Mercedes-Benz architectures will be designed for electric vehicles only – starting with three new platforms launched that same year.
The 'MB.EA' platform will target mid-size and large passenger cars and SUVs, 'AMG.EA' will be a "dedicated performance electric vehicle platform" intended solely for the Mercedes-AMG performance division, while 'VAN.EA' will be used to underpin electric vans and light commercial vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz has confirmed the MB.EA platform will "over time" replace the MRA2 platform underpinning the new-generation C-Class and S-Class sedans (along with a slew of future models), along with the stop-gap dedicated EVA architecture.
That rollout would likely see smaller models such as the A-Class hatchback and GLA small SUV – the next-generation versions of which will ride on the combustion-capable MMA platform, starting in 2024 – become some of the last Mercedes models to switch exclusively to electric power, along with the mid-size C-Class sedan that is also able to benefit from the architecture.
Using the brand's typical six to seven-year life cycle as a guide, it's possible a next-generation C-Class (or its GLC sibling) could go down in history as the last Mercedes-Benz model to feature a combustion engine, around the mid-2030s – given the latest-generation version only debuted earlier in 2021, and its successor (likely due in 2027 or 2028) would be sized correctly to use the MMA architecture.
Alongside its new-model offensive, Mercedes-Benz has committed to switch every passenger-car factory and battery assembly site it owns to carbon-neutral production "by 2022". It will also invest in new battery recycling factories, with the first set to open in Germany in 2023.
Full carbon neutrality is slated for 2039, according to the brand's latest goals.
Eight battery 'gigafactories' are planned to be established across the globe over the coming years, producing over 200 gigawatt-hours of battery cells – the next-generation versions of which are said to be highly standardised, and suitable for use in 90 per cent of Mercedes-Benz cars and vans.
The brand's employees and production line workers will be re-skilled and trained in "e-mobility", with an additional 3300 software engineering jobs to be created to develop a new 'MB.OS' operating system for future electric vehicles.
Company boss Ola Kallenius says the marque "won't chase volume", and will instead focusing on increasing profits – with profit margins on electric vehicles similar to combustion-engined vehicles expected to emerge over the coming decade.
The introduction of modular electric-only platforms will lower costs, while "net revenue per unit" is also slated to be increased on high-end Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Maybach models.
Investment in the development of combustion engines in 2026 is also slated to have decreased by 80 per cent versus 2019 levels.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice and Drive for all the latest on Mercedes-Benz's electric roadmap, as new vehicles are revealed, and further details are published.