The luxury brands have been late to the electric revolution but that’s about to change as a flood of new models arrive in the coming years, particularly from the German brands. Mercedes-Benz alone will launch 10 electric cars by 2025, one of which is the EQC small SUV that made its debut last month at a private event in Sweden and was revealed to the public Tuesday at the 2018 Paris auto show.
Mercedes’ parent company Daimler has established the EQ sub-brand for electrified cars, and the EQC is the first Mercedes from the brand. The first actual EQ car was the Smart EQ ForTwo that debuted in March, though this was actually just a rebranding of the existing Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.
The new EQC is a better example of the technology and design we can expect from EQ in the coming years. Unfortunately, we won’t see it in showrooms for a while as Mercedes says sales are only due to start in 2020. Sales in other markets commence in mid-2019.
Despite the lengthy wait, Mercedes has already locked in some key specs for the initial EQC 400 model. It will come with an electric motor at each axle to form an all-wheel-drive system, with peak output registering at 402 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque. The front motor is optimized for efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear motor adds performance. They both connect to the wheels via a single-speed transmission, and 0-60 mph acceleration should happen in 4.9 seconds.
The battery in the EQC 400 will be an 80-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion unit sourced from fellow Daimler subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive. The EPA is yet to test the vehicle but Mercedes estimates a 200-mile range on a single charge. The rival 2019 Jaguar I-Pace promises 240 miles from a 90-kwh battery. Other alternatives in the pipeline include the Audi e-tron due for a reveal in San Francisco on September 17, as well as the BMW iX3 and Tesla Model Y both due in 2020.
The EQC will be capable of charging on a 150-kilowatt DC line, under the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard. That high-speed will replenish the battery up to 80 percent capacity in 40 minutes. Daimler is part of a network called Ionity that is installing public DC chargers, with the first 400 currently being installed across Europe.
And on the road, drivers will be able to optimize range by adjusting the car’s driving modes. The five modes in the EQC are Comfort, Eco, Max Range, Sport plus an Individual mode where the driver can program their favorite options. The driver is also able to influence the brake energy recovery level using paddles behind the steering wheel.
At 187.4 inches in length, the EQC is roughly the size of the GLC, with the electric SUV about 4 inches longer than its internal combustion counterpart. There is enough space for five within, with no room taken up by the battery since the unit lies flat in the floor.
The cabin of the EQC adopts an “electro-look” design that will filter across to other EQ models. One example is the louvered edges of the dashboard and door trim which resembles the cooling fins of a hi-fi amplifier. You’ll also notice the rectangular air vents with key-shaped, rose-gold colored louvres. Dominating the dash is Mercedes’ combined digital instrument cluster and infotainment system which feature numerous displays and functions unique to EQ.
For the exterior, the key electro-look distinguisher is the large black-panel surface combining the headlamps and grille. For the first time, the black panel is bordered at the top by an LED light signature as a visual link between the torch-like daytime running lamps. At night, this is said to create an almost uninterrupted, horizontal light band. And finally the wheels, which will range from 19 to 21 inches in size, are aerodynamically enhanced and feature dual-tone designs. Two wheel variants have blue touches on the rim flange or spokes.
Pricing information will be announced closer to the EQC’s 2020 launch. As a guide, Jaguar’s I-Pace can be had for $70,495.
And beyond the EQC, additional Mercedes EQ cars known to be in development are an EQA compact hatch and EQS flagship sedan.