If you walk into a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Canada right now you won’t find any electric vehicles for sale, but that’s about to change as the German brand shifts to an EV-only strategy in an effort to catch up to and overtake its competitors. At an event ahead of the first major European car show since the pandemic, Mercedes took the wraps off four new electric SUVs and sedans that are slated to arrive in 2022 and beyond.
“The EV shift is picking up speed, especially in the luxury segment where Mercedes belongs,” said Ola Kallenius, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz AG. “That’s why we’re accelerating from EV-first to EV-only.” By 2025 there will be at least one all-electric alternaive for every model the brand makes, he said, speaking on the eve of the IAA Mobility show in Munich.
At a dealership in the city, Kallenius introduced the second wave of Benz’s electric offensive. It includes a new mid-size EQE sedan and a high-performance AMG version of the EQS sedan, both of which will arrive in Canada next year. An ultra-luxury Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV and an electric version of the G-Class SUV, dubbed EQG, were shown only as concepts, but are expected to go on sale in the coming years.
Canadian customers will start seeing the first wave of electric vehicles from Mercedes in showrooms later in 2021 – assuming there are no pandemic-related production delays – starting with the previously announced flagship EQS sedan and the seven-seat EQB compact SUV. The former will cost over six-figures while the latter will be the brand’s most affordable electric model in Canada.
In the next year and half, the buffet of cars on offer in Mercedes showrooms will cater to what the company hopes should be a strong appetite for EVs. But, if you walk into the Canadian dealerships of Mercedes-Benz’s rivals, you don’t have to wait to buy an electric car. Audi, BMW, Porsche and of course Tesla, all have at least one EV on sale now.
Mercedes’ sales and marketing teams in the U.S. wanted to begin the company’s electric shift with a high-end flagship model, Kallenius explained. “To create the momentum that we need not for now but for the whole decade, [we need] to lead from the top in the U.S. market,” he said to the Globe and Mail. In essence, Mercedes’ American operation didn’t want to launch the EQ electric sub-brand with the more affordable EQC SUV that’s been on sale in Europe since 2019; they wanted to wait for the flagship six-figure EQS sedan coming later this year. And, Canadians usually get offered whatever cars the Americans get.
This top-down approach to launching a range of electric cars was on full display in Munich where the brand focused almost exclusively on high-end EVs.
The unabashedly extravagant Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV concept is aimed specifically at the U.S. and Chinese markets, a company executive said. Maybach’s current SUV costs $200,000, so it’s a safe bet this electric model will cost even more when it goes on sale in 2023.
Similarly, the gas-hungry G-Class SUV will run you $155,000 but it has nevertheless been more popular than ever in the U.S. and Canada in recent years. The all-electric EQG concept unveiled in Munich is powered by four independent electric motors and should offer all of the same old-school SUV charm with none of the climate-related guilt, which sounds like a recipe for success. A company executive said it would go on sale in, “a few years.”
The Mercedes-AMG EQS is merely the first of what the company confirmed will be many electric cars from the hot-rodders at AMG. It will carry two electric motors churning out a combined 750 horsepower, enough to propel this 2,655 kilogram behemoth from 0-100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, which Tesla fans will surely point out is not as quick as the new Model S Plaid.
The EQE mid-size sedan was the brand’s most mainstream electric model unveiled in Munich. It looks nearly identical to the EQS, but is slightly smaller with a lower price and less range. Mercedes estimated the EQE is good for up to 660 kilometres, as rated on the generous WLTP test cycle.
If the company can flip its roughly 2.5 per cent share of the overall global vehicle market from predominantly gas-powered cars to electric-powered ones in this decade, Kallenius said, that could perhaps have a symbolic or “pull” effect on the larger market. “We think that luxury can lead,” he added.
By the end of this decade Mercedes will be ready to go all-electric, Kallenius said, with the caveat, “where market conditions allow.” Market conditions, however, can vary wildly. In Norway, for example, fully-electric vehicles accounted for over half of all new car sales in 2020, but in Canada, plug-in hybrids and EVs combined made up just 3.8 per cent of total sales. To meet our EV sales targets and climate goals, this country has a long way to go, and so does Mercedes-Benz.