At Last Mercedes Enters the EV Bull-Pit

It might be seen as something of a Johnnie-come-lately but Mercedes-Benz, two years after showing its first all-electric concept vehicle at the Paris Motor Show, has unveiled its new EQC.

Less surprising still is that the car is an SUV following the herd towards the market’s biggest growth area. Add to this a bodywork profile that could have come from just about any of the global design studios from California to Beijing, the new EQC will have its job cut out convincing traditionalists to drop the comfort and convenience of trips to the gas-station to hunt out a supercharger on that stressed-out business trip.

That said, the claims of a healthy 300 kW (402 hp) of power should deliver a Tesla base model matching sprint performance of 5.1 secs to 60mph as does the expected 279 miles of battery range – albeit when the 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is brand new. The first in Mercedes’ brand EQ, a rather trite mash-up of IQ to stand for electric intelligence, boasts all-wheel drive with a motor powering each axle.

Naturally, the latest auto technology bristles from the car’s every orifice including a pre-climatizing function that warms or chills the vehicle before use depending on its surroundings. Other features include an ECO Assist system to give the driver support when driving predictively by prompting the driver when it is appropriate to come off the accelerator, for example if the vehicle is approaching a speed limit, and by functions such as coasting and specific control of energy regeneration. To enable this, navigation data, traffic sign recognition and information from the intelligent safety assistants, using radar and stereo camera, are linked and processed.

ADAS functions include predictive speed adjustment when approaching slowing traffic, where Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 60mph as a precaution. In a tailback on the motorway, the lane guidance system keeps the vehicle off-center to leave space for the emergency services.

The car also has EV specific functions weaved into its infotainment system including its calculation on the fastest route taking into account the shortest charging time. The route planning also responds dynamically to changes and can take place both on-board or off-board remotely through the Mercedes me App. It helps those range-anxious EV drivers find charging stations and gives them access to the charging stations of numerous providers even beyond national borders. There’s also an integrated payment function.

As yet, no price tag has been announced but expect it to be like the claimed gross vehicle weight of 2,930 kgs (6,460 lbs) – a hefty one.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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