Not to be outdone by rival Volkswagen, which took the wraps off its new I.D. electric car at the Paris auto show this week, Mercedes Benz also introduced what may be the first model in its new EQ sub-brand for electric cars. The company says the four pillars of its EQ cars will be connected, autonomous, shared, and electric.
The EQ concept is built on a proper electric car chassis with the battery mounted underneath the floor. Mercedes says the new chassis is modular and can be adapted to a number of new vehicles. The concept targets the sweet spot of the current market. It appears to be a medium size crossover SUV, which is precisely what many shoppers want in a car these days. In fact, it looks a lot more like an SUV than Tesla’s Model X. It’s handsome without breaking any new styling ground.
Because it is meant to be shared, the interior is made up of fewer leather and wood accents than usual. Instead, it uses more lightweight materials that can be easily cleaned. It also has an enormous 24″ OLED touchscreen to provide the latest in connectivity and entertainment options.
Mechanically, the EQ concept has a 70 kWh battery which the company says will give the car a range of 500 kilometers or 300 miles. Keep in mind that European numbers are always about 20% more optimistic than EPA ratings. That suggests a real world range of around 240 miles — exactly the same as the Chevy Bolt.
The concept is powered by two electric motors — one in front and one in the rear — with a combined output of just over 400 horsepower. 0-60 performance is expected to be in the sub-5 second range. The battery is supplied by Mercedes’ corporate cousin Accumotive.
Charging times are getting more attention from manufacturers and customers these days. One way to reduce range anxiety is to build a car that can be recharged quickly. The target is to make charging times equivalent to the time it takes to refuel a conventional car. This overlooks the fact that electric cars and conventional cars are completely different. An electric car starts every day with a full battery charge. A conventional car does not start every day with a full tank.
Nevertheless, charging times are important to prospective customers and Mercedes claims the EQ can add 60 miles of range with just a 5 minute charge. Where exactly the necessary high power charging stations will be located and who will pay for them is left unsaid.
With autonomous driving the holy grail of all manufacturers these days, Mercedes says its EQ cars will have onboard computer systems with pre-loaded digital maps that understand how to negotiate curves and traffic rotaries. Hardly ground breaking news.
The EQ concept is designed to quell fears among Mercedes faithful that the company is not moving fast enough into the future of transporation. The concept is nice enough, but it won’t evoke many gasps of amazement or convince 400,000 people to plunk down $1,000 to reserve one. Like the electric cars from most other manufacturers, the EQ won’t be here until 2020 at the earliest.
Elon Musk may have awoken a sleeping giant but one can only wonder where Tesla will be in 2020. There’s a good chance the EQ and similar offerings from other car makers will be obsolete by the time they find their way into showrooms.
Source: Green Car Reports