On Site in Stockholm for the All-New Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 Reveal
Here’s what you need to know about the vehicle that kicks off an 11-billion-Euro investment from Daimler—and announces the future of Mercedes-Benz.
The press release for the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400, the first vehicle in Mercedes new electric "EQ" line, runs 52 pages long. If that doesn't signal the importance of this all-electric SUV—or how much Mercedes has invested in the new EQ sub-brand generally—then Daimler's cash on the barrel will: the company has announced a 10-billion-Euro investment in EQ model development, plus an extra billion Euro for worldwide battery development.
We attended the EQC 400 launch in Stockholm, Sweden, and read every word of the interminable press release. Here's what you need to know about the vehicle on which Mercedes-Benz is pinning so much.
What Is EQ?
- "EQ" is the name of a new Mercedes model range, which will consist only of electric vehicles
- EQ is also a Daimler-wide push into electrification spanning everything from CASE (connectivity, autonomous, shared and services, and electric mobility) to the Volocopter taxi drone
- The name is a play on "IQ"—Mercedes says it stands for "Electric Intelligence"
- According to the company, Mercedes-EQ represents "progressive luxury" and joins three other model lineups: Mercedes-AMG ("performance luxury"); Mercedes-Maybach ("ultimate luxury"); Mercedes-Benz ("modern luxury")
- EQ has also absorbed the Smart brand
- Pointedly, Mercedes calls EQ a "product and technology" brand, suggesting, in the fashion of modern "mobility" solutions, that EQ will try to expand beyond just vehicles
- This includes EQ Nights—standalone events with speakers and discussion—for the so-called "EQ Community," as well as an eSports partnership with ESLGaming
What Is the EQC 400?
- The first "all use-case" all-electric Mercedes-Benz
- (Note: Daimler-owned Smart debuted an EV in 2007, and Mercedes itself had a limited-release B-Class electric for model-year 2017)
- The EQC 400 is based on the Generation EQ concept that debuted at Paris in 2016
- Size: The head of exterior design described the EQC as a "midsize SUV crossover," a mash-up of contradictory terms that nonetheless means something between a full SUV and a "sports-utility coupe" like the GLC
- The sustainability narrative includes the fact that over 100 different parts in the car use recycled materials
- Multimedia: "A completely new multimedia system featuring innovative technology based on Artificial Intelligence and an intuitive operating system. MBUX technology is pioneering a new level of in-car experience. MBUX can be operated by Voice Control, the Touchscreen (a first for Mercedes-Benz vehicles), Touchpad and Touch Control Buttons on the steering wheel. The system has learning capabilities and intelligent Voice Control with natural language understanding and a verbal cue of 'Hey Mercedes.'” (From the press release)
- MBUX stands for "Mercedes-Benz User Experience"
- The interior was described as "inspired by the world of consumer electronics," which doesn't address the fact that many consumer electronics—the smartphone in particular—are specifically designed to suck up massive amounts of user attention, which is not a great idea inside of a moving vehicle
- That design has moved away from traditional signifiers of internal combustion engine performance, like forms reminiscent of jets or turbines, and towards "squarish forms" like tablets and circuit boards
- 402 horsepower and 564 lb-ft from a pair of asynchronous motors and an 80 kWh li-ion battery
- Range: up to 200 miles
- 187.4" (L) x 82.5" (W-including mirrors) x 63.9" H; 113.1" wheelbase
- Curb weight: N/A
- MPGe: N/A
- DC fast-charging time, 110 kW, 10-80 percent: 40 minutes (wall-charging time: N/A)
- 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
- The full name is Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic
- The car doesn't read "Mercedes-EQ," as with "Mercedes-AMG" and "Mercedes-Maybach" vehicles; it simply reads "EQC 400" on the left and "4Matic" on the right
- The "C" in "EQC" means the vehicle is a C-Class equivalent (suggesting we can expect a flagship S-Class version, an EQS, and a tiny EQA [A-Class] down the road) and the 400 means...whatever that means in modern Mercedes nomenclature
Who is the EQ Customer?
- Exactly who you think it would be: a wealthy, eco-conscious, tech-friendly early adopter, almost certainly a city dweller
Mercedes me App
- The Mercedes me app is an attempt at one-stop EV maintenance and usability, providing a range of services and functionalities—you can use the voice-recognition ("Hey, Mercedes..."), for example, to tell the car to be fully charged and ready to go at 8:00am the next morning
- Likewise, you can push a Navigation address from your smartphone to the onboard Nav system
- The app can also manage various payments associated with the car
- Inductive charging is still a ways down the line—"it won't make it to the launch of the EQC," per one executive—due to current constraints around cost, efficacy, and packaging
- Model positioning: "The all-new Mercedes-Benz EQC will be the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to be launched under the EQ brand. As the Mercedes-Benz of electric vehicles, the EQC will introduce the Progressive Luxury design idiom, as well as the newest safety systems and technology from Mercedes-Benz, including the new headunit generation from Mercedes-Benz called MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) with a new user interface and natural speech recognition and touchscreen." (From the press release)
- Mercedes plans for 15-25 percent of all new vehicles sold by 2022 to be EQ models
- Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, proposed that those 10 models will "cover 60 percent of the relevant market"
- EQ models will be produced entirely on existing production lines—no dedicated manufacturing infrastructure—to limit exposure based on an emerging and as-yet undefined market
- When asked about the production run for EQC, Dr. Zetsche said, "We have a very good sense, but not a public statement."
- Mercedes-AMG styling on the all-electric SUV?
- "AMG Line Exterior with AMG-specific Black Panel grille in twin blade design and surround in high gloss black, front bumper in a jet-wing design, wider rear bumper with diffuser and up to 21-inch Wheels" (From the press release)
- On the ethical, moral, and environmental impact of electric vehicle production (for example, both mining and end-of-life questions around lithium-ion batteries), Dr. Zetsche agreed that "all these issues exist, and are unresolved." However, he cautioned that while "there are still many questions open ... to conclude, 'Let's not do anything' is obviously not correct. We need to learn by doing."
At a media roundtable with Dr. Zetsche, the question of fuzzy boundaries among the sub-brands was raised—or, as Zetsche put it, answering a question with a hypothetical: "When a Mercedes gets an electric drive, it becomes an EQ; when a Maybach gets an electric drive—does it become an EQ?"
And there might be some minor issues in that regard, at first. (Zetsche also said that he would "be surprised if we had to wait 10 years" to see a full-electric AMG vehicle.) But in fact, EQ signals the first step in Daimler's all-out conversion from fossil-fuel-powered cars to electric vehicles and the general "mobility" mentality. It's not that, in 10 years, some Mercedes-AMG (or -Maybach, or -Benz) vehicles will be electric, and others won't; by then, likely all new Mercedes cars will be electric—and some of those EVs will be badged "AMG," or "Maybach," or "Benz."
In a sense, EQ is designed to fail as a sub-brand by succeeding wildly as a concept. It all starts with the EQC 400. When you look at this car, you're looking at the future of Mercedes-Benz as we know it.