Mercedes-Benz C-Class and S-Class are said to be the inspiration behind the new EV saloon models
21 May 2016

Mercedes-Benz has accelerated plans for a range of new electric vehicles. 

The move follows a long-awaited announcement by the German government that it will begin offering sales subsidies on all EVs priced at less than €60,000 (£47,300) as part of a €1.2 billion (£950 million) electric car purchase incentive scheme.

Mercedes Generation EQ concept revealed at Paris motor show

The plans have been orchestrated by Mercedes-Benz’s outgoing R&D boss, Thomas Weber, and call for four new electric models to join the Mercedes line-up by the end of 2020.

Two electric saloons and two SUVs are expected. Each is set to share the basic elements of a more conventionally powered sibling, including so-called hard points such the windscreen and roof structure. However, there will be unique design touches to make them instantly recognisable as zeroemissions vehicles, according to insiders privy to the proposals for the four models.

The new electric car line-up is aimed at pitching Mercedes into direct competition with Tesla Motors, which has led the electric car push and had solid levels of sales growth since the Model S executive saloon began production in 2012. It also comes in response to recent moves by key rival Audi, which has already announced that it will begin offering a production version of its e-tron quattro concept in 2018 in the first stage of a similar electric car offensive.

A heavy shroud of secrecy surrounds the upcoming electric-powered Mercedes models, although recent comments by Weber suggest the saloons will be based around the C-Class and S-Class and the SUVs will share common links with the GLA and GLC.

Mercedes has intensively studied the idea of bringing stand-alone electric cars with uniquely engineered bodies to showrooms. However, it says the high cost of development, components and production makes it prohibitive at volumes below 50,000 per year during the first generation, even for highpriced models. Its conclusion is backed up by Tesla’s inability to turn a profit since the Model S, which currently has a base price of £51,900 in the UK, first went into production. 

The GLA-based model is set to adopt a modified version of the MFA platform currently used beneath Mercedes’ first dedicated electric car, the B-Class Electric Drive. The C-Class, S-Class and GLC-based electric cars will use a newly developed variant of Mercedes’ MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) platform conceived specifically for EV applications and known to insiders as the MEA (Modular Electric Architecture).

The first recipient of this new platform will be the GLC Fuel Cell, due next year. The new hydrogen-powered model, which will be offered to customers on either a limited lease or outright purchase scheme, is described by Weber as a forerunner to Mercedes’ new EV line-up. As well as housing batteries within the floor, its version of the MEA platform features tanks to house the hydrogen.

One of the key elements of the MEA platform is its ability to offer either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive in combination with up to three electric motors.

Although it is still early days, insiders at Mercedes’ R&D centre in Stuttgart confirm the company is developing its own range of electric motors, ranging in output from about 75kW (101bhp) to 400kW (536bhp).

A new generation of lithium-ion battery cells from Accumotive will provide the Mercedes EVs with a range of more than 250 miles — the minimum prescribed by Weber to make the new zero-emissions models a practical alternative to their more conventional petrol, diesel and hybrid siblings. 

In addition to its own range of electric cars, Mercedes is currently putting the finishing touches to a successor to sister company Smart’s Fortwo Electric Drive.

Expected to make its debut this year, the new two-seater is set to be joined by a fourseat Forfour Electric Drive fitted with a slightly larger battery and a more powerful electric motor — a move that will provide the German car maker with six EVs by the turn of the decade.

The electric-powered Mercedes models are expected to be produced on dedicated production lines at the company’s Rastatt, Bremen and Sindelfingen plants in Germany. Mercedes has also announced a €500 million (£394m) investment at its Hamburg plant in Germany, which will supply its new range of electric cars with selected components.

Further investments are being poured into battery production. In March, Mercedes parent company Daimler announced plans to invest €500m in an expansion of its existing battery production facilities in Germany.

Join the debate

Comments
21

21 May 2016
I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

21 May 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

Why? It isn't as if Mercedes are notably reliable themselves and their recent interiors are rather unpleasant bling-fests. Will they be building a high speed charging network?

21 May 2016
Clarkey wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

Why? It isn't as if Mercedes are notably reliable themselves and their recent interiors are rather unpleasant bling-fests. Will they be building a high speed charging network?

There is a pre existing network of rapid AC (624 charge points) and rapid DC (1450 charge points) in the UK that will charge your electric car from 0-80% full in 30 mins. There are thousands of slower charge points. Not sure which tech Mercedes will use, but I'm pretty sure they will be covered, esp when the cars are launched in 2020. You never know, rapid charge points might start competing with petrol stations (8500 in the Uk) by then.

22 May 2016
winniethewoo wrote:
Clarkey wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

Why? It isn't as if Mercedes are notably reliable themselves and their recent interiors are rather unpleasant bling-fests. Will they be building a high speed charging network?

There is a pre existing network of rapid AC (624 charge points) and rapid DC (1450 charge points) in the UK that will charge your electric car from 0-80% full in 30 mins. There are thousands of slower charge points. Not sure which tech Mercedes will use, but I'm pretty sure they will be covered, esp when the cars are launched in 2020. You never know, rapid charge points might start competing with petrol stations (8500 in the Uk) by then.

I suppose it depends on how rapid you want. I would prefer a 120kW Tesla Supercharger to a significantly slower 50kW Chademo or CCS 'rapid' charger. The non-Tesla network is also often in a poor state of repair and is run by a multiplicity of various companies that expect you to maintain a sheaf of smart cards and associated memberships. Many of them also ask for significant amounts of money.

23 May 2016
Clarkey wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:
Clarkey wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

Why? It isn't as if Mercedes are notably reliable themselves and their recent interiors are rather unpleasant bling-fests. Will they be building a high speed charging network?

There is a pre existing network of rapid AC (624 charge points) and rapid DC (1450 charge points) in the UK that will charge your electric car from 0-80% full in 30 mins. There are thousands of slower charge points. Not sure which tech Mercedes will use, but I'm pretty sure they will be covered, esp when the cars are launched in 2020. You never know, rapid charge points might start competing with petrol stations (8500 in the Uk) by then.

I suppose it depends on how rapid you want. I would prefer a 120kW Tesla Supercharger to a significantly slower 50kW Chademo or CCS 'rapid' charger. The non-Tesla network is also often in a poor state of repair and is run by a multiplicity of various companies that expect you to maintain a sheaf of smart cards and associated memberships. Many of them also ask for significant amounts of money.

Right, and I bet your bottom dollar Tesla owners will be relying on the in addition to the supercharger or local chargining networks.

22 May 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

So a vague declaration of an intention to build a car will be available before a car that's more then half way through its development? And Mercedes Benz actually rates lower for reliability then Tesla on Consumer Reports. Soooooooo ya

22 May 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

Mercs are now known for sharing many parts with Renault including a bad reliability record. Just look at various reliability indexes. p.s. Autocar had a Telsa as number 1 in their Owner satisfaction. Sorry for throwing a few facts into the argument

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

22 May 2016
xxxx wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

Mercs are now known for sharing many parts with Renault including a bad reliability record. Just look at various reliability indexes. p.s. Autocar had a Telsa as number 1 in their Owner satisfaction. Sorry for throwing a few facts into the argument

I meant Autoexpress survey.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

23 May 2016
xxxx wrote:
xxxx wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

I bet both models will be easier to get your hands on than a Model 3 and be a whole lot more polished and reliable to boot.

Mercs are now known for sharing many parts with Renault including a bad reliability record. Just look at various reliability indexes. p.s. Autocar had a Telsa as number 1 in their Owner satisfaction. Sorry for throwing a few facts into the argument

I meant Autoexpress survey.

Yeah, apparently when things go wrong, Tesla pull out all the stops to satisfy customers. Also, a lot of Tesla customers are early adopting enthusiasts who are more forgiving of problems. I think that sort of goodwill won't be there for the Model 3 though. Doesn't make their cars reliable though. I know Mercedes don't make reliable cars (The S Class is the most unreliable car in its class according to consumer reports) but I still think they will suffer from fewer major malfunctions than Tesla's.

23 May 2016
I still think its more likely I will end up in a 60kwh Nissan Leaf than anything from Tesla or Mercedes though, through lack of availability. I hold hopes for an E Golf with that sort of battery pack also.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK