Mercedes-Benz is finally starting its big push into the electric vehicle market in Canada with the EQS, a decadent luxury sedan with 700 kilometres of driving range. It is overflowing with high-tech features and amenities the likes of which the world has never seen before in a vehicle.
Mercedes is a late entrant into the electric vehicle market in Canada. When the EQS arrives in dealerships this fall, it will be the first all-electric Mercedes-Benz sold here. The brand’s key rivals – namely Audi, BMW and Porsche – already have EVs in showrooms today, not to mention Tesla, which has been selling its Model S sedan since 2012.
It wasn’t originally supposed to be this way. The Mercedes EQC electric SUV was supposed to arrive in Canada last year as the brand’s first EV. But, it’s arrival has been pushed back until after the EQS.
Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz AG, said the company looked at the market in North America and decided the EQS, with its long-range capability and many high-tech features, was a better fit at the moment.
Since Mercedes is late to the EV party, it had better bring something good, and indeed the EQS does have some clever tricks. As the all-electric equivalent to the brand’s top-of-the-line S-class, the EQS is a tech-laden juggernaut, crammed with features that run the gamut from bizarre to brilliant.
A wall-to-wall curved glass Hyperscreen spans 56-inches across the entire dashboard. Ambient lights in the cabin can change colour when you adjust the cabin temperate, and the driver can select from two different “soundscapes,” called Silver Wave and Vivid Flux, as well as various fragrances developed by Mercedes. The car tracks its driver’s gaze so, for example, depending on which mirror you’re looking at, it automatically knows which one you’re trying to adjust. At night, the digital headlights can shine a spotlight on pedestrians detected at the roadside. The car’s doors can close by themselves, although this feature won’t be available at launch in Canada. The sheer number of options and customizable settings is dizzying. On a technical level it’s very impressive, but it remains to be seen whether drivers want all of these things.
Mercedes did research to understand the primary buyers of the EQS, Seeger said. “These people are very open minded to new interpretations of design, new interpretations of technological innovation in a car, and digital interaction,” she explained.
Driving range is still a key consideration for EV buyers, according to a J.D. Power survey released earlier this year. So, the most important feature of the EQS might be its impressive estimated driving range of 700 kilometres. Even though that estimate is based on the generous WLTP standard – not the EPA standard commonly used in North America – the EQS has far more range than the Porsche Taycan, Jaguar I-Pace or Audi e-tron. Whether the Benz’s range is enough to beat Tesla’s revised Model S in real-world driving, we’ll have to wait and see. The EQS appears to be the strongest challenge yet (by an established auto maker, at least) to Tesla’s long-range supremacy.
“We have not yet done the certification in EPA, but we are absolutely confident that we will have a strong product from this [perspective] as well,” Seeger said.
Recharging the car’s 108 kWh battery should be quick. If you can find one of the few public fast-chargers capable of supplying 500-amps, the EQS can regain 280 km of range in just 15 minutes. (Again, that’s using the WLTP standard.) Recharging the battery from 10 to 80 per cent would take as little as 31 minutes, according to the company.
As far as performance goes, Tesla’s Model S should out-accelerate the big Benz, but the EQS can do 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, which is frighteningly quick for a luxury behemoth that tips the scales at 2,585 kg. The all-wheel drive EQS 580 4Matic – the only model on offer in Canada – has two electric motors producing a combined 516 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of torque, which is considerably more twist than you get in, say, Ferrari’s midengine F8 supercar.
The EQS is the first vehicle built on the new Mercedes-EQ platform, designed specifically for EVs. The company is planning a mid-size EQE electric sedan, as well as SUV variants of both the EQS and EQE, all of which will be built on the same platform.
Those new electric SUVs won’t hit the market this year, but will arrive in the near future, Britta Seeger said. Mercedes is also considering the possibility of offering its smaller, more affordable EQA and EQB electric SUVs in Canada as well, she added.
Mercedes-Benz typically sells more than two million vehicles globally each year. By 2030, it aims to have fully-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids account for more than half of that total.
The price for the EQS will be announced later this year, and you can bet it won’t come cheap. The EQS is less about lighting up the sales charts and more of a statement of intent from Mercedes-Benz as it attempts to find a foothold in the North American EV market. Where Tesla went minimal, Mercedes has seemingly gone with a more-is-more approach. Whether or not this is what drivers want, Mercedes is about to find out.