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Paris show: Benz flips the switch with EQC

EQC kicks off new electric era for Mercedes-Benz in €10 billion rollout

Mercedes-Benz logo5 Sep 2018

MERCEDES-BENZ has unveiled its ground-breaking EQC all-electric crossover vehicle in Stockholm, kicking off a €10 billion ($A16b) splurge that will yield 10 EVs under its new EQ brand by 2025.
 
Due to begin production in the first half of next year alongside conventional Mercedes large cars at the company’s Bremen plant in Germany, the first “Mercedes-Benz of electric vehicles” will touch down in Australian showrooms in the second half of 2019.
 
The EQC will be followed by the EQA small hatchback – a concept of which was shown at last year’s Frankfurt motor show – and then an EQB, EQS and others.
 
Unveiling the EQC at a Swedish art gallery in front of 600 guests, Daimler chairman and Mercedes-Benz Cars CEO Dieter Zetsche said: “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 10 billion euros in the expansion of our EQ model portfolio, and more than one billion euros in global battery production.” 
 
Mercedes-Benz’s launch event is the first in a frenzy of luxury EV activity this month, with rivals BMW and Audi also making their pitch to the market ahead of the Paris motor show in the first week of October.
 
BMW has decked out a Lufthansa Boeing 777 cargo jet as an international showroom in readiness to zip its Vision iNext electric concept on a whirlwind around-the-world tour of four cities – Munich, New York, San Francisco and Beijing – in five days from September 9.
 
Audi will be next up with the unveiling on September 17 of its production e-tron in San Francisco in an in-your-face affront to the current luxury EV champion, Tesla.
 
The etron and Mercedes EQC will go head to head with the Tesla Model X and Jaguar’s I-Pace.
 
The EQC packs 300kW of power and 765Nm of torque from two electric motors – one on the front axle and the other at the back to provide all-wheel drive – fed by an 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides a claimed range of more than 450km.
 
This is shorter than the suggested 500km range of the Generation EQ concept show at the Paris motor show two years ago, but Mercedes is probably playing it safe, given the debate about false mileage claims in Europe recently.
 
The range is in the same ballpark as the Tesla Model X P100D which has a claimed range of 467km, even though it has a bigger 100kWh battery.
 
Although the EQC tips the scales at a porky 2.4 tonnes (including a 650kg battery), it is said to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and top out at a governed 180km/h. The Tesla does the sprint in 3.1 seconds in the so-called Ludicrous mode.
 
At 4761mm long and 1884mm wide, the EQC is a similar size to the C-Class wagon, hence the ‘C’ in the title.
 
Technically, the vehicle shown in Sweden is the EQC 400 4Matic, suggesting other variants with different power, performance and drivetrain set-ups might be waiting in the wings.
 
The smooth styling with its large black panel encompassing the “grille” and LED headlights is the new Progressive Luxury EV design language for Mercedes. Blue highlights and a single fibre optic white lighting strip across the top of the grille, joining up with the daytime running lights, help to establish the car as a member of the EQ family.
 
The slightly sloping rear roofline positions the EQC between a conventional boxy SUV and an SUV coupe.
 
Inside, the cockpit is dominated by a vast free-standing screen stretching more than halfway across the dash and housing digital instruments – including gauges showing the battery charge – and the infotainment system with MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience).
 
The latter comes with features such as pre-heating or pre-cooling the car by remote control via the Mercedes me smartphone app.
 
The sat-nav guidance is optimised for the electric drivetrain, taking into account quick-charge stations rather than just the most direct route.
 
Five driving modes are available: Comfort, Eco, Max Range, Sport and Individual. In the more economical driving modes, a haptic accelerator pedal prompts the driver to conserve power.
 
Paddles behind the steering wheel allow the driver to recoup more power under deceleration.
 
The two electric motors have different roles in the powertrain, with the front motor tuned for efficiency in the low- to-medium range, and the rear motor geared towards acceleration and dynamic performance.
 
On a high-voltage charger, the battery’s 484 cells can be charged to 80 per cent in 40 minutes. The charge time for a standard 240-volt 10amp home socket was not given.
 
The electric motor units are each mounted on sub-frames that are isolated from the body by rubber mounts to reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness).
 
Seating is for five, with 500 litres of luggage space at the back.
 
Although production will kick off at the Bremen plant in 2019 ahead of the European showroom launch in mid year, a second plant in China is also being prepared to build the EQC to cater for the world’s biggest EV market.
 
That plant is a joint venture with Daimler’s Chinese partner BAIC (Beijing Auto).
 
Mercedes is also expanding its own lithium-ion battery factory in east Germany to ensure steady supply. 

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