Now that the dust has settled a little, let’s put the launch of a first production electric car from Mercedes into some perspective.
Yes, the EQC marks a bit of history. And, yes, others are doing similar things. But let’s not forget that Tesla is blazing the trail.
That’s why we are talking sooner rather than later about an electric vehicle from Mercedes (and others) being on its way here.
But, unlike Tesla, Mercedes can hedge its bets. It can make the new EV at the Bremen plant (others later) alongside conventionally powered cars with the ease of increasing or reducing production depending on demand. It’s a flexible take on the future.
If EVs aren’t selling, there’s a good old GLC SUV diesel or something else to slot in. Let’s not forget either that this is not an EV from the ground up in terms of design or major underpinnings. It’s an electric GLC sports utility vehicle.
I didn’t like the look of the silver version on the launch stage. It may be a year from getting here but if I had around €80,000 (Mercedes hasn’t disputed the price I published last week) I’d want it in black or a darker colour – it looks light years better.
For all that, it was impossible not to feel a sense of history as the legendary brand lifted the veil on its first EV.
There are at least another nine to follow by 2022. It’s no time away. Remember, next year we’ll be counting down to 2020 – how distant that seemed a few years ago.
As Mercedes here gears up for the marque’s new electric vehicle EQ sub-brand, there is a clear sense of a new era dawning. There is much to be done by the company and, importantly, by the state. Sadly, we don’t have a Tesla to set the pace for a charging infrastructure, but we need an injection of pace to improve it. Hopefully, by September 2019 we’ll see progress because, let’s not forget, loads of new EVs are coming over the next year or two.
The next one from Mercedes will be the smaller EQA (due in 2020). After that expect a large EQS. A direct rival for the EQC, the Jaguar I-Pace, is already here and costs from around €84,000.
Hence my guesstimate that the EQC will be in that ballpark price. Other rivals heading our way will include the Audi e-tron, BMW iX3 and whatever Tesla can throw at us. But in the case of the EQC, what are you likely to get for your ballpark €80,000?
A nice-looking SUV, if you stick with a dark colour, a brilliant interactive screen (I watched, almost mesmerised, as a fellow sat in and twirled his way through so many options – you’ll love the way it works. In all there is a 2×10.25ins instrument cluster and media display). Not so inspiring was the dull grey stretch of dash in front of me.
I hope they have a nice, light-coloured interior option. Depending on how taxation goes in the Budget, you’ll face a road tax bill of a mere €120 as it is technically emissions-free. Not nearly as clear is how far it will go on one charge.
Mercedes claims more than 450km, but that’s based on the old, outdated, discredited NEDC testing system. The firm says it awaits WLTP results.
What’s the bet the range will be lower? Might that change perceptions? It might, depending on how much lower.
Mercedes says you’d be able to charge it from 10pc to 80pc capacity in 40 minutes. That’s on a fast charger. How many will there be in Ireland by this time next year?
Most people, I suspect, will AC charge at home but it takes longer.
If you get a Mercedes Wallbox – how much it will cost isn’t clear – you can bolster the battery up to three times quicker.
A bonus point, and one easy to overlook, is that the EQC is all-wheel drive (4MATIC) with an electric motor driving each axle.
Wheel sizes will be 19ins to 21ins. With a combined output of 300kW (402hp) and 765Nm torque, it will be no slouch. How about 0-100kmh in 5.1 seconds?
The 384-cell lithium-ion battery pack is under the floor between the two axles and has an 80kW output on its own.
There’s great room in the cabin, especially at the rear. That MBUX multimedia system is going to be something.
Apart from letting you tell the car what you want (range, nearest charging station, radio channel, destination etc), it should be fun to play around with, too.
It can also be used to pre-set the car’s temperature for winter and summer conditions. There is a Mercedes Me app for that as well.
By way of background, Mercedes told us staff have driven the EQC “around the world” in pre-production testing – 200 vehicles have covered several million kilometres across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, making little bits of history all along the way.
Hopefully, we’ll witness our own little bit around this time next year.