Daimler is positioning its Mercedes-Benz EQC as an affordable alternative to the larger Tesla Model X and Audi e-tron. Mercedes is aiming the crossover at customers who plan to purchase their first electric vehicle.
By eliminating expensive features typically offered in the midsize crossover segment such as continuously variable air suspension, engineers were able to reduce the EQC’s pre-tax starting price to less than 60,000 euros, allowing it to qualify for government subsidies in countries such as Germany. With taxes in Germany the EQC costs 71,281 euros while in the same market the Model X starts at 85,300 euros and the e-tron at 82,350 euros.
The EQC, Mercedes’ first mass-market EV, comes with a range certified at up to 374 to 417 kilometers under the new WLTP test cycle and the battery’s storage can be replenished to 80 percent in 40 minutes using a DC fast-charging station.
“We expect a large number of EQC buyers, perhaps roughly half, will purchase it as a second car,” said Joerg Heinermann, head of sales & marketing for the Mercedes’ EV line.
While project managers hope they can poach Tesla owners, they acknowledge that the main purpose of the EQC was to prevent any further loss of Mercedes customers to rivals with EVs in their showrooms. “Tesla is a generation further with its Model 3,” a project engineer conceded.
Heinermann believes the EQC will be a winner in Europe, particularly in prestige markets such as Switzerland where conversations with dealers suggest that some customers had been waiting for an electric Mercedes before giving up their combustion-powered drivetrains.
The vehicle is equipped with an 80-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery that weighs 652 kilograms and feeds an induction motor over each axle. Combined, the battery and motors provide total output of 300 kilowatts (equivalent to 402 hp) and 760 newton meters of torque.
The EQC goes 0 to 100 kph in 5.1 seconds but engineers have limited its top speed to 180 kph to conserve range.
Particular attention was paid to the vehicle’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Each electric motor is mounted on two separate sets of rubber bushings to better insulate the passenger cabin: one where the drivetrain connects to its subframe and the other where the subframe connects to the body. Plenty of sound dampening foam and fabrics such as felt have been added, even in the rear wheel arches, smoothing out all spikes in noise frequencies across the bandwidth spectrum from low to high.
Sturdy yet light aluminum beams along the side sills protect the battery from side impacts while structural reinforcements were made to the car’s front and rear. Deformable crumple zones in the battery’s frame absorb as much additional energy as possible to ensure the modules themselves remain undamaged in the event of a crash. A small plough under the car near the front axle acts to clear debris away, preventing shocks to the car’s underbelly that could also pose safety risks.
If the EQC is in an accident, the battery automatically shuts down, reversibly or irreversibly depending on severity of the crash. There are also shutdown points where emergency teams can deactivate the high-voltage system manually.
Launch date : Europe (spring-summer); China (late 2019); U.S. (early 2020)
Base price : 71,281 euros (with tax, Germany)
Where built : Bremen, Germany; Beijing, China
Range : 445-471 km (NEDC); 374-417 km (WLTP)
Consumption: Up to 20.8 kWh per 100 km
Main rivals: Tesla Model X, Jaguar i-Pace, Audi e-tron
Comfort: The EQC’s heat pump recirculates waste heat from the compressor and battery to help keep the interior warm in cold weather without draining battery reserves and limiting the range.
Flexibility: The EQC shares elements such as its wheelbase and underpinnings with the fuel-powered GLC. Both crossovers are built on the same assembly line.
Navigation: The MBUX infotainment system incorporates special features for the EQC, including optimized route planning that takes charging stops into account.
One-pedal driving: Drivers can select five different recuperation modes to recharge the battery. In its most extreme form, the vehicle’s speed can be regulated almost solely using the accelerator.
Battery: Produced in Mercedes’s plant in Kamenz, Germany, the EQC’s powerplant is guaranteed for eight years or 160,000 km.
Dimensions: The EQC has roughly the same footprint as the Jaguar I-Pace.