Daimler To Launch New Electric Car Brand

The Mercedes parent company is creating a new arm devoted to taking on Tesla. We could see a new brand as early as September.

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The most surprising aspect of Tesla’s story hasn’t been the ascent—it’s painfully slow response from the rest of the industry. The Germans take a proprietary approach to the four-door luxury market; so far, they haven't done much about Elon Musk traipsing across their front lawn. But now there’s a Model X, and more coming, and so it looks like we’re finally going to see Daimler really fight back.

It’s no secret that the automaker has approved production of four new all-electric Mercedes-Benz models; reports last week indicated that the first should arrive at the Paris Motor Show this fall. Now Handelsblatt, a German business periodical, is reporting that Daimler will actually be creating an entire new all-electric car brand:

The launch of the electric car brand is planned for September in Paris, where Mercedes wants to present a SUV model which is based on the current GLC model, the sources told Handelsblatt. The electric car should go on sale next year and more models are planned up to 2020.

Besides the tangible fruits of a new brand, this also potentially represents a major shift in strategy for one of the world’s most important automakers. Daimler has never built a true EV from a clean-sheet; its zero-emissions offerings, the Smart FourTwo Electric and B-Class crossover, are both existing chassis. And, of course, those electric drivetrains were co-developed with Tesla.

The new Daimler arm could be a sub-brand, tucked into Mercedes like AMG and Maybach. BMW’s i marque absconding EV development for the autonomous bandwagon certainly allows Daimler some headroom in that sphere. Per Handelsblatt, these new cars would be built in German, U.S. and Chinese plants, and aim for a battery range of at least 300 miles.

Daimler execs are meeting to approve the brand’s Paris rollout on July 20. We’ll be keeping tabs on this one as that date nears.