Mercedes-Benz is getting ready to launch a major push into electrification, the automaker announcing plans to have six all-electric EQ models in production by 2022, including two that will roll off its assembly line in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Production of the new Mercedes-EQ sub-brand began in 2019 with the launch of the EQC in Bremen, Germany, with the electric crossover being added at a plant in China. This year, the automaker introduced its all-electric EQV van, produced at its Vitoria plant in northern Spain. Production of the EQA at a German plant has just begun, with sales to begin next month.
Within two years, four other model lines, including electric sedans and SUVs, will be added to the list, as part of the “Electric First” program. The automaker will have factories dedicated to battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, production in the U.S., Germany, China, Hungary, Spain and Poland.
The German automaker is “investing heavily in transformation,” said research chief chief and Mercedes-Benz COO Markus Schafer. “Our vehicle portfolio becomes electric and thus also our global production network with vehicle and battery factories.
“We intend to lead in the field of e-mobility and focus in particular on battery technology,” Schafer added. “We are taking a comprehensive approach, ranging from research and development to production, and also including strategic cooperation.”
On top of the products that have already been rolled out, Mercedes announced Monday plans to begun production at a variety of other factories:
- The EQS, essentially an electrified S-Class and a Tesla Model S competitor, will begin production at Mercedes’ flagship plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, during the first half of 2021;
- The compact EQA SUV is already being produced in Rastatt, Germany, but a second line in Beijing will be added next year;
- Another compact SUV, the EQB will become the first Mercedes EQ model to go on sale in the U.S. after production launches in both Kecskemet, Hungary, and Beijing next year;
- The EQE, the electric alternative to the familiar, midsize Mercedes GLE SUV, will be produced in Bremen, Germany, as well as Beijing starting next year;
- The production rollout wraps up with the launch of the EQS und EQE SUVs in Tuscaloosa, Alabama starting in 2022, though still other all-electric models will be coming later in the decade.
Mercedes also plans to build battery systems in Alabama, Germany, Poland and Beijing.
Long focused on diesel technology to boost its fuel economy and drive down carbon dioxide emissions, Mercedes began shifting direction mid-decade as a series of diesel emissions scandals embroiled it and other European automakers.
“All systems are go. We are investing more than 10 billion euros in the development of our EQ vehicle portfolio alone,” Ola Källenius, who last year became Daimler CEO, previously noted. “We will also be electrifying the entire Mercedes‑Benz portfolio and our customers will thus have the choice of at least one electric alternative in every Mercedes‑Benz model series, taking the total to 50 overall.”
Mercedes’ electrification program isn’t limited to pure battery-powered models. The automaker plans to continue producing plug-in hybrids like its current GLC 350e 4Matic. And it has begun using “mild,” or 48-volt hybrid powertrains in a number of products. But it expects its various plug-based models to yield fully half of the brand’s sales by 2030, company officials have said.
That’s on top of the business it expects to generate by supplying partners, such as Aston Martin, with hybrid drivetrain technologies. Parent Daimler AG also launched a new partnership with China’s Geely. The two automakers will develop new plug-based drivetrains for use in a variety of their individual model lines.