On Thursday, Mercedes-Benz presented an electric counterpart to its first-class S-Class sedan. This is the latest in a series of measures taken by German automakers to defend their dominance in the upper price market against Tesla.
The EQS, which will be available in the US in August, is the first of four electric vehicles Mercedes will unveil this year, including two SUVs made at the company’s Alabama facility and a lower-priced sedan. Mercedes hasn’t announced a price for the EQS, but it’s unlikely to be any lower than the S-Class, which starts at $ 94,000 in the US.
The cars could be crucial for Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes, as it tries to adapt to new technologies.
“It is important to us,” said Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler, in an interview about the EQS. “In a way, it’s kind of a new era day.”
According to Mercedes, the EQS has a range of 770 kilometers. If that number is confirmed by independent testing, the EQS would dethrone the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus as a production electric car that can travel the furthest between charges. According to a ranking by Kelley Blue Book, the Tesla currently ranks first with a range of just over 400 miles.
The EQS owes its endurance to advances in battery technology and an exceptionally aerodynamic design, said Källenius. Some analysts ask if Mercedes can sell enough electric vehicles to justify the development costs, but Mr Källenius said, “We will make money with the EQS from the start.”
The EQS is the latest attempt by German car manufacturers to show that they can apply their know-how in technology and production efficiency to battery-powered cars. Vehicles are Germany’s largest export item, so the success or failure of automakers will have a significant impact on the country’s prosperity.
On Wednesday, Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury unit, unveiled the Q4 E-Tron, an electric SUV. The Q4 shares many components with the Volkswagen ID.4, an electric SUV that the company has been delivering to customers in the United States since March. While it can compete with combustion models in terms of price, none of the vehicles offer as much range as comparable Tesla vehicles.
In the tradition of the S-Class, the EQS offers outstanding luxury functions such as software that can detect when a driver is possibly feeling tired and activate the massage function embedded in the seat.
“You will achieve an improvement on the S-Class in a very, very powerful electric car,” said Källenius. “This is your selling point.”