► Electric Mercedes cars and Project EQ
► The current Mercedes electric car line-up
► What you can buy today, and what’s coming soon
Rewind things back a few years and Mercedes’ electric car strategy was all at sea. Despite dominating a new electrified F1 since 2014, Stuttgart – like its German counterparts – had been left in the dust by new, bespoke products from Tesla, Nissan and others. But skip back forward to 2023 and things are looking very different for the Germans.
Mercedes’ new range of electric cars – christened EQ – is growing every month: it started with the mid-sized EQC SUV, but now includes everything from the bespoke EQS limousine to electric-powered AMG models. And unlike those early EQs which simply swapped out ICE for EV, Mercedes’ latest EVs are designed from the ground up to go electric. There’s also the reemergence of the SMART sub-brand, though that’s now a joint partnership with Geely. Either way, the future for Mercedes (and Affalterbach) has arrived.
Mercedes to launch EV charging network: all the details
We’ve also just seen the public debut of the brand’s MMA Mercedes Modular Architecture or (MMA) at the 2023 Munich motor show. Powering the Concept CLA Class, it’ll underpin the three-pointed star’s mid-size EV range moving forward. First there’ll be a four-door coupe, and it’ll followed by a shooting brake and two SUVs.
Mercedes’ electric range currently goes under Stuttgart’s EQ banner, but that’s set to change in the next few years:
Mercedes will eventually drop the EQ brand for its electric cars, instead using it in other cutting-edge e-mobility solutions. That was the message from Mercedes CTO Markus Schafer, speaking at the recent Munich motor show – and the reasons are pretty simple.
‘We know our direction is clear. So, we want to be all electric,’ explained Schafer. ‘So every Mercedes at one point in time will be an electric car. It doesn’t make sense anymore to have this EQ in the signature, but we want to keep it as a brand.’
Instead, the chief technology officer revealed it’ll be used instead as label for ‘cutting edge e-mobility on battery drivetrain’ products. Schafer wasn’t clear on if this included things such as concept cars, race cars or scooters – but it could mean all of the above.
No time scale was given for the move, but with hybrid and pure-ICE cars still forming a good chunk of the Mercedes line-up, it could be a little while off.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Mercedes electric cars.
Mercedes electric cars: what’s available now?
On sale: now
The Mercedes EQA – an electric SUV based on the combustion-engined GLA – is Mercedes’ second fully electric SUV, following in the footsteps of the larger EQC. It’s a rival to the Audi Q4 e-Tron, although the latter benefits from using a platform that was designed from the ground up to be an electric vehicle. The EQA doesn’t have that luxury.
That doesn’t mean it’s a bad car though: prices start from around £40,000, and the 66.5kWh battery will give you between 250 and 264 miles depending on which spec you go for. The EQA 250 has a single 187bhp motor that drives the front wheels, resulting in 0-62mph in 8.9sec, while the EQA 300 and 350 add a second motor at the rear for four-wheel drive. The latter is the most powerful, developing 288bhp and hitting 0-62mph in six seconds flat, although the top speed of 99mph is consistent throughout.
You could argue that the exterior styling is a tad derivative, but the interior gets a clean, modern design that matches the comfortable nature of the car. It’s great value, too.
Read our Mercedes EQA review here
On sale: now
The Mercedes EQB is an electric crossover that was revealed at the Shanghai motor show in April 2021, and it’s due in Europe before the year is out. It’s a similar size and shape to the GLB, but it borrows much of the powertrain from the smaller EQA.
The same 66.5kWh battery pack is used, and a similar range of 260 miles or so is expected. The EQB 250 will be the entry-level offering at launch with 187bhp to play with, while the EQB 350 should have some 288bhp at its disposal. That model will cost you just over £50,000.
Read our Mercedes EQB review here
On sale: now
The Mercedes EQC on the other hand isn’t cheap. Prices start from £65,720, and the SUV no longer qualifies for the government’s plug-in car grant of £2,500, which can now only be applied to zero-emission vehicles costing less than £35,000.
Still, it’s pretty quick with a 0-62mph time of 5.1sec, thanks to a powertrain that generates 402bhp. The 80kWh battery gives you 259 miles of range on paper, and you can top up cells from 10 to 80% full in just 35 minutes if you can find a 100kW charger; the fastest charge you will get from anything faster than this is 110kW, which is where the EQC maxes out.
Although it’s not as bold as the likes of the Jaguar i-Pace or Tesla Model X, the EQC has a lot going for it: a well-built, luxury cabin, arresting levels of performance and handling characteristics suited to a long, relaxed motorway cruise.
Read our Mercedes EQC review here
On sale: now
The EQS SUV does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s 200mm taller than the standard limousine, with a tweaked design and more seats.
Three powertrain versions have been announced: EQS 450+, 450 4Matic and 580 4Matic. It’s not known yet which variants will make it to the UK, but the 450+ version claims up to 410 miles on a single charge. Both the 4Matic ones claim up to 380 miles, and every version is capable of 200kW fast charging.
Read more about the EQS SUV here
On sale: now
The Mercedes EQE is essentially a four-door saloon partner to the next-generation E-Class, and if the looks hadn’t already given it away, you can think of it as a smaller version of the EQS limo.
The EQE 350 uses a 90kWh battery and features a single motor on the rear axle producing 288bhp and 391 lb ft of torque, a combination that Mercedes says will result in an impressive 410 miles of range. You can attribute much of that to the car’s sleek profile: Merc reckons the EQS is the world’s most aerodynamic car with a drag coefficient of 0.2, so you can bet on the EQE being almost as slippery.
A roomy, comfortable car that dials down the ‘look at me!’ flamboyance and overkill tech of the EQS to offer what Mercedes has always done best: put you in safe hands.
There’s an AMG variant on the way, but the EQE is already compelling without the tinkering.
Read our EQE review here
On sale: now
The Mercedes EQS is the electric equivalent of the S-Class limousine, and it went on sale in September 2021 priced a fiver shy of £100,000. There are more versions to follow, but the initial offering of the rear-wheel-drive EQS 450+ brings with it 329bhp and a range of 453 miles thanks to a mammoth 107.8kWh battery. An AMG-tuned version is due at a later date: that is thought to have 700bhp at its disposal.
Of course, the S-Class is known for its technology as much as anything else, and the EQS is no different. Buyers can spec a 1,410mm ‘Hyperscreen’ that spans the entire width of the dashboard and brings three digital displays into a single unit, albeit at a cost of £7,995. And no, that’s not a typo. Other than that there are automatic pop-out doors, 350 sensors and much else besides: this will be the EV of choice for wealthy business folk with an eco conscience.
Read our Mercedes EQS review here
On sale: now
The Mercedes EQV electric minivan was launched in the summer of 2020 with prices starting from £70,665, putting it very much at the ‘expensive’ end of the people-carrier-slash-minivan spectrum. A 100kWh battery (90kWh of that is usable) is enough for 213 miles of range, and although 201bhp sounds like a lot for a vehicle of this type, it has 3,500kg of its own bulk to contend with. So it’s not exactly fast.
That said, there’s lots of space inside for passengers and their luggage (this is the kind of vehicle that’s expected to ferry people between airport terminals and hotels) and the 45-minute charge time for a 10-80% top up means it won’t have to spend too long out of service. A handy feature for any businesses considering one.
Read all there is to know about the Mercedes EQV here
On sale: Now
As you might have guessed from the entirely unimaginative name, the all-electric Mercedes EQE SUV is the crossover flavoured cousin of the regular EQE saloon. Although it’s not quite as long as its sedan-shaped sibling, a bit more height boosts practicality.
There’s undoubtedly a good car in the EQE SUV. Space impresses, the promised range is useful and it’ll rapid charge from 10-80% in just 32 minutes if you can find a 170kW charger. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem like Mercedes’ engineers have quite finished setting it up.
Read our review of the new EQE SUV
Mercedes electric cars: what’s next?
At the 2023 Munich motor show, Mercedes revealed the new Concept CLA Class, and it previews at least four upcoming electric cars. The new concept won’t make it to production, but its DNA will be carried into four new production cars that’ll also use the MMA platform.
Mercedes says the concept you see in Munich will spawn a four-door saloon, a shooting brake and two SUVs. The first of those will be the four-door coupe, and we’ll see that towards the end of 2024.
What’s a platform?
The new electric revolution costs money, and that means brands are looking to funnel their R&D cash into a one-size-fits-all solution that can be adapted for various models. EVA2 is the current version of Mercedes’s bespoke electric-car underpinnings. It’s what sits beneath the big, luxurious EQS saloon and the slightly smaller, slightly less luxurious EQE saloon, which has a wheelbase 90mm shorter than the EQS’s, and 10 battery modules rather than 12.
EVA stands for electric vehicle architecture, and the 2 signifies that it’s a generation (or half a generation) on from EVA1 and EVA1.5. That actually undersells it, as those earlier versions were adapted from combustion-car platforms whereas EVA2 was designed from the off as an electric-only architecture – and it shows.
Earlier electric Mercs – the GLC-based EQC, the A-Class-based EQA and B-Class-based EQB – are compromised by proportions that make sense when there’s a big engine up front and the accompanying transmission hardware, plus a fuel tank up the back. EVA2, by contrast, is all about having batteries under the seats and an electric motor on the rear axle, or one on each axle, with no physical connections between front and rear axles.
The result is a shorter, lower bonnet – which can look weird on the EQS, certainly when compared to the S-Class, which shares the EQS’s ambitions of providing smooth, quiet, luxury driving, but does not share any of its platform. That shorter bonnet, combined with shorter front and rear overhangs, means that a car of similar length can have a roomier interior.
EVA2 is available in a variety of different sizes, but it’s not infinitely stretchable or shrinkable. The production offshoot of the acclaimed EQXX concept – essentially an all-electric replacement for the C-Class – is likely to be built on MMA, created especially for compact and mid-size electric vehicles.
What’s more, the EQXX isn’t just a concept – and lots of the technology used in the concept will be taken to production in some form. ‘That’s like 2425 timeframe, where we see most of the components out of the EQXX,’ Schafer told CAR magazine at the 2023 CES show. ‘So the battery more or less will be the one that we see in EQXX, the Mercedes E-drive, which is the first Mercedes e-drive, we ever did, an in-house design. That’s the one running in the EQXX platform,’ he continued.
‘There are many elements – solar roof and so on – many details on this car will be on that platform.’
‘So, in short: the motor, the battery technology, the cell technology, and part of the inverter elements are definitely in the in the next generation. And there’s more even on the infotainment side; our engineers’ imaginations went wild and came up with this seamless pillar-to-pillar screen, which is something I am going to transfer into series production.
What about AMG, or Maybach?
‘In our transformation to all electric, we’re now in full development of a fully dedicated electric architecture for AMG, from the ground up. That will be some time towards the end of 2025 when that will hit the market,’ said Mercedes boss Ola Källenius at the FT Future of the Car conference.
‘You will have a Maybach fully electric version by the middle of next year. The G-Wagon, I recently drove a prototype of the powertrain of it, down in Graz where we develop and make these vehicles, and went for some serious off-roading. Came off that test drive and said off-roading in the future is definitely electric, and it will be as far as the G is concerned in the middle of 2024.’
Mercedes CEO on the future
‘We’re well under way with the transformation. We’re in the first wave of the product offensive, which will be followed by an even larger second wave,’ said CEO Ola Källenius at the FT Future of the Car conference. ‘Last year we made the decision to go all in on electric and get the transformation done in this decade, with the attitude to make the market, not just wait for the market.’
‘The biggest decision that we made, from the year 2025 forward all new architectures from Mercedes-Benz will be electric only,’ he added. ‘That will put us in a position by the end of this decade to serve markets 100 per cent if they are ready, and we will do our best to make them ready.’
‘For the big game of transformation all the way to electric there are other things that we need to watch – lithium, nickel and so on, things that we need for the battery materials. There substantial investment is necessary if the pace towards electrification is going to accelerate. Next to solving the problems that are here and now, we’re also looking at the long term and trying to lock up our supply chain for a dominant electric world.’