Mercedes’ future is big, bold, and full of batteries

Believe it or not, the world’s first all-electric cars were invented nearly 200 years ago, offering quiet, easy operation for quick around-town trips (check out my in-depth examination of EVs here). Mercedes-Benz, being the old automotive standby that it is, first got into the EV game in 1906, but like every other major automaker, eventually ditched the batteries in favor of a gas tank. Now, with all-electric transportation once again on the rise, Mercedes has decided to double down on EV investment, and it’s looking like its new major effort will be an SUV. Packing more than 300 miles of range, oodles of luxury, the very latest autonomous tech, and a serious amount of muscle, Merc’s new upcoming model looks to dominate a segment that’s only now starting to emerge.

Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler AG, has been tinkering with EVs here and there for the past few years, with recent offerings including electrified versions of the Mercedes B-Class and Smart ForTwo. But now, with corporate scandal, political pressure, and increasing demand for EVs all coalescing into a single motivating force, the move away from internal combustion seems all but inevitable.

As such, Daimler is pouring billions into EV R&D, and hasannounced plans debut 10 new all-electric vehicles by 2025. The new lineup will fall under the newly created “EQ” sub-brand, and will supposedly stand on “four pillars” – “Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric.”

Ambitious? Absolutely. But apparently, the first EQ offering is nearly complete, debuting in concept form at the Paris Motor Show earlier this year. Merc says the concept is close to production-ready, but concepts can be deceiving, so we took a hard look, figured out what’ll make it to dealers, drew up a rendering, and wrote the following speculative review.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV.

Exterior

As far as aesthetics are concerned, Mercedes says its new all-electric EQ models will receive cues that’ll help them stand apart from the rest of the Merc stable. The EQ concept that dropped in Paris is certainly successful in that regard, offering futuristic, streamlined styling that looks almost nothing like the German brand’s current crop of production SUVs, outside of vaguely similar proportions and a coupe-like roofline.

The EQ concept’s exterior isn’t exactly “production friendly,” and as such, we used it as just a base, adding more realistic touches on top.

While consistent with previous concept efforts (F 015 Luxury In Motion, Concept IAA, etc.), the EQ concept’s exterior isn’t exactly “production friendly,” and as such, we used it as just a base, adding more realistic touches on top.

A Preliminary Tale Of The Tape Between The Mercedes‑Benz "Generation EQ" Concept And The Tesla Model X
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2020 Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Let’s start in front of the EQ, where we find a flat, “Black Panel” grille fixed to the nose. This piece ties together the narrow headlights in one continuous flourish, complete with a white, illuminated three-pointed star emblem front and center, plus blue LED optical strips that stretch across the car’s width.

While Mercedes touts this as a “distinguishing mark of ‘Generation EQ,’” it’s almost definitely not gonna make it past the bean counters. Never mind laws concerning front facing blue lights – the whole EQ grille is just a little too out there for an automaker like Mercedes to take a chance on with a production model.

The whole EQ grille is just a little too out there for an automaker like Mercedes to take a chance on with a production model.

Rather, we’re thinking something a little more traditional, with the usual horizontal metal slats and chromed-out Mercedes emblem. The grille “wings” will flare out in the corners, and although an EV doesn’t need the same sort of intakes as an ICE-powered car, the look should be about the same.

At either end of the grille are new, ultra-thin LED headlights, which bear the same shape as those found on the EQ concept. V-shaped daytime running lights can be found running along the edges of the housings. The rest of the cool exterior ambient lighting (under the car, along the side skirts, etc.) will most likely hit the chopping block.

Lower in the bumper, the EQ concept once again provides the cues, with similar creases and intakes used for the production model. Moving towards the center, we find a silver-colored skid plate. Up top, the concept’s black hood is retained.

While the EQ gets drag reducing characteristics like a camera-based rear-view feature and no door handles, the production SUV will most likely include traditional mirrors and handles.

Moving to the sides, we find the EQ’s elongated window line stretching into the front fenders. Lined in chrome, the look is stylish and tasteful, offering big impact with minimal effort. Up top are flat black roof rails, while below is flat black under cladding.

And while the EQ gets drag reducing characteristics like a camera-based rear-view feature and no door handles, the production SUV will most likely include traditional mirrors and handles.

Finally, the roof will continue its coupe-like arc into the rear hatch, with LEDs used for the taillights, and a silver-colored skid plate connecting dual chrome-plated exhaust tips. Large 20-inch wheels will sit in the corners, and the whole thing will get draped in the same “alubeam silver” paint as the EQ concept.

Competition

2016 Tesla Model X
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2016 Jaguar I-Pace Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2020 Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Although it’s much more expensive than Mercedes’ upcoming SUV, the Tesla Model X is considered the Germans’ primary competition. Stylistically speaking, these two are quite different – while the Mercedes is definitely sleek and futuristic, the Model X looks like it just popped out of a wormhole ready to plant an interdimensional flag into Earth’s soil. The Tesla’s front fascia is proudly without a grille, while its silhouette is rounder and subtler in its curves. And of course, the coup de grace is the Model X’s falcon doors, a feature that the Mercedes will almost certainly be unable to match.

Does that make the Model X the prettier vehicle? It depends. Some folks will undoubtedly embrace the sci-fi chic of the Tesla, while other buyers will prefer the slightly more traditional Mercedes.

Does that make the Model X the prettier vehicle? It depends. Some folks will undoubtedly embrace the sci-fi chic of the Tesla, while other buyers will prefer the slightly more traditional Mercedes.

Now for the wild card – the Jaguar I-Pace. Jag just released this thing at the Los Angeles Auto Show this year, and long story short, it’s a real head-turner. Based on the Ian Callum-penned F-Pace, the I-Pace adds a healthy portion of all-electric future gloss to an already attractive vehicle, and the result surely has what it takes to put Mercedes and Tesla on notice.

My guess is the Jag will be the beauty contest winner.

Thing is, we don’t know for sure what the I-Pace will look like when it hits the production line in 2018, and it’s possible it might see a lashing with the ugly stick in the interim. That said, it’s an unlikely scenario considering the talent behind it and Jag’s reputation for churning out gorgeous automobiles, but you never know – all-electrics rely heavily on aerodynamics to eke out every last mile, and the engineers might get a bigger say than the artists.

Probably not though, and by the time all three of these machines are roaming public streets, my guess is the Jag will be the beauty contest winner.

Interior

Inside the new EQ concept, Mercedes really laid it on thick with the old design study polish. It’s like Merc stole a shuttle craft from a Star Trek movie and grafted it into an SUV.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class High Resolution Interior
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Note: Mercedes-Benz GLC interior pictured here.

While impressive, it’s highly unlikely the production model will look anything like the concept. Rather, I’m expecting something a little closer to home – kinda like the GLC’s interior.

While impressive, it’s highly unlikely the production model will look anything like the concept. Rather, I’m expecting something a little closer to home – kinda like the GLC’s interior, hence the image above. Even so, the EQ concept does point to at least a few interesting features that I could see carried over.

For starters, there’s the asymmetric layout. Considering all the gear modern luxury EVs are expected to carry, it makes sense to load up the driver’s side with screens and various controls. The large, horizontal “floating” screen is another feature I’d like to see incorporated, although a digital gauge cluster and horizontal screen high and center on the dash is more likely.

However, Merc will almost definitely throw in a heads-up display as a complementary info provider. More touchscreens will be placed in the rear for additional infotainment control and viewing, and Mercedes will probably make a very real effort at minimizing hard buttons and knobs wherever possible. Topping it off will be eye-catching ambient lighting, customizable as the driver sees fit.

2016 Mercedes‑Benz "Generation EQ" Concept High Resolution Interior
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Note: Mercedes-Benz EQ Concept interior pictured here.

Zero internal combustion noises paired with Mercedes cabin refinement? Yes please!

On the materials front, expect all the regular top-shelf goodies, including leather upholstery, wood and aluminum trim, textured suede, piano black surrounds, and more. The electrically adjustable seats will be heated and get a massage feature (ventilation will be an available extra), and buyers will get the option for bigger bolsters when opting into sportier trims. The steering wheel will get wrapped in leather, come with a heating function, and incorporate touch controls at thumb length.

On the infotainment front, Mercedes will include a high-end sound system from Burmester, throwing in 3D sound as standard. Considering just how quiet this thing will be (zero internal combustion noises paired with classic Mercedes cabin refinement? Yes please!), getting the most from your tunes will be easy.

Per the EQ pillars, there should be plenty of connectivity as well. A Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth smartphone connectivity are to be expected, as is a Qi wireless charging system and voice recognition. The system will also identify which driver is approaching the car using the unique key fob signature, and adjust things like seating position, ambient lighting, and infotainment displays to suit the driver’s taste. But since this is a high-end EV, there will be various features tailored specifically to meet the demands of all-electric transport, starting with the navigation system.

Icing on the cake will be the very latest in car-to-X and autonomous tech.

The Mercedes EV SUV nav will automatically adjust the route to optimize for maximum range (flat ground or downhill preferred, minimal traffic, smooth road surfaces, etc.), while also offering the driver detailed information on charge point access and similar features. As outlined by the EQ concept, if the EV doesn’t have enough electricity to reach its intended destination, it’ll suggest alternatives.

Of course, this is all in addition to 3D mapping, point of interest search, and a catalogue of restaurants, shopping, and the like. What’s more, the infotainment system will monitor your driving habits and adapt accordingly, once again maximizing possible range. The system will also allow for easier management of charge times (only draw during off-peak hours, etc.).

Icing on the cake will be the very latest in car-to-X and autonomous tech. That means real-time data transfer for road condition alerts, street sign recognition, automatic braking (with pedestrian recognition), adaptive cruise control (with stop and go traffic jam assist), lane-keep assist, and more.

Finally, without some bulky ICE up front, the Mercedes all-electric SUV should offer a good deal of space for cargo, both in front and in back.

Competition

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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2016 Tesla Model X
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2016 Jaguar I-Pace Concept High Resolution Interior
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Note: Mercedes-Benz GLC, Tesla Model X, and Jaguar F-Pace pictured here.

Once again, we find the Tesla delivering on the futuristic design that Mercedes is hesitant to actually put into production. The Model X sits up to seven people with individual upright captains chairs, while the Mercedes will probably get capped at five. The Tesla uses a huge, vertically mounted touchscreen fixed on the center console, while the Mercedes will probably only get a smaller screen high on the dash. The Tesla looks like a spaceship inside, while the Mercedes will be a glossier Earth-bound SUV. And of course, we’ve gotta mention the advanced autonomous features, a technology that (for better or worse) Tesla is most definitely spearheading.

Point Tesla? Again, it depends on what you’re looking for. Sure, the Model X is spacey and futuristic, but Mercedes buyers might not be into that sort of thing. Refreshed old school might be the better way to go for loyal Merc customers.

And I expect the same from Jaguar, as well. While the I-Pace does come with an impressive cabin, the production car will probably get the same design as the F-Pace.

Drivetrain

One of the coolest things about the EQ Concept is how specific Mercedes got with powertrain specs, leading us to believe the production model will arrive with identical figures.

Making this thing go is a battery pack (most likely produced from lithium-ion) with a capacity of more than 70 kWh. This battery supplies electricity to two electric motors (one for the front axle and another for the rear axle), which together lay down 300 kW (402 horsepower) and 700 nM (516 pound-feet of torque). Odds are Mercedes will also offer lower trim levels with less output and a lighter MSRP.

The battery supplies electricity to two electric motors (one for the front axle and another for the rear axle), which together lay down 402 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

With that much muscle, the run to 60 mph should take less than five seconds. While certainly very quick, those numbers are below those of the Model X, but perhaps that’ll change if AMG gets thrown in the mix.

Either way, range is expected to cap out at 500 km (310 miles), which is about 20 miles more than the Tesla.

Along with these impressive numbers, Mercedes divulged a variety of innovative ways to juice back up. Inductive (a.k.a. wireless) charging is on the table, as is a high-capacity “Combined Charger System” that can supposedly net an extra 60 miles in just five minutes.

Under the skin, the new Mercedes EV SUV will offer up a fresh modular architecture built specifically for EVs.

We’ll see if Merc follows through on these ideas, but at the very least, expect multiple driving modes to suit the given situation, whether it calls for more power, or greater range.

Under the skin, the new Mercedes EV SUV will offer up a fresh modular architecture built specifically for EVs. The underpinnings will be used for a variety of different body styles, including four-doors and coupes, and will use aluminum and carbon fiber (in addition to steel) to keep weight at a minimum.

Range is expected to cap out at 310 miles.

As for handling, the SUV will use electrified AWD and multiple suspension settings to maximize driving pleasure, with a low center of gravity (courtesy of the battery pack floor) making the thing surprisingly nimble. And considering Mercedes has plenty of experience making huge SUVs handle, doing the same for this EV shouldn’t be a stretch.

Competition

All in all, Mercedes is promising quite a bit here. If the brand’s upcoming SUV does manage 60 mph in less than five seconds and over 300 miles of range per charge, it’ll be a real thorn in Tesla’s side. Because although the Model X might be quicker (especially in top-tier trim), it’s hugely more expensive as well.

Basically, it comes down to this – Tesla will need to step up its game if Mercedes is bringing production heat similar to the EQ concept.

As for the other EV SUV in question – Jag is as specific with specs for the I-Pace as Merc is with the EQ, which means we could have a real three-way fight on our hands in a few years time. Jag’s specs are a little less believable, though, considering JLR’s inexperience in the realm of EVs, but hey – a lot can happen between now and 2018.

Tesla Model X 75D Tesla Model X 90D Tesla Model X P100D Jaguar I-Pace Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV
Battery 75 kWh 90 kWh 100 kWh Lithium-Ion battery Lithium-Ion battery
EPA Range 237 miles 257 miles 289 miles 300 miles (est.) 310 miles (est.)
Horsepower 259 hp front and rear motor 394 HP 402 HP (est.)
0 to 60 mph 6.0 seconds 4.8 seconds 2.9 seconds TBA 5 seconds (est.)
Top Speed 140 mph 155 mph 155 mph TBA TBA

Prices

The new Mercedes EV SUV will most likely see a production version drop in 2019, with a sneak peek at what’s in store expected for the next Paris Motor Show in 2018.

When it does finally go on sale, pricing will mirror that of the GLC crossover, coming in at around $40,000 to $45,000.

Competition

Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X High Resolution Exterior
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While $30,000 more than the Merc, the Model X is the biggest target in this space. After all, there’s really no other all-electric seven-seat luxury SUV in existence, which means Tesla will be watching Mercedes very carefully for the next few years. And don’t expect the California-based automaker to take this sitting down – look for the Model X to receive some significant updates in the next few years. Even more important will be the potential release of a new compact crossover, a.k.a. the Tesla Model Y.

Read the full review here.

Jaguar I-Pace

2016 Jaguar I-Pace Concept High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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The Cat Badge wants to get in on the action as well, and the I-Pace certainly looks like it’s got the goods. However, the biggest issue I see for Jag is in the all-electric technology development – Daimler and Tesla are both quite a bit ahead in that regard, which means Jaguar has to play catch up. Hopefully that won’t be too big of an issue for the plucky Brits.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2020 Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The all-electric luxury SUV segment is ripe for the taking. With a plethora of high-stance body styles already flooding the market, this particular niche remains surprisingly barren, but over the next few years, odds are that’s gonna change.

That means all eyes on Tesla. Like it or not, the brand is still leading in this space, and as it ramps up production and stokes the flames of desire in consumers, you can bet big makes like Mercedes are ready to cash in as well.

So get ready – it’s gonna be one helluva show.

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