Mercedes-Benz is rapidly ramping up its push into the electric vehicle market and its latest offering is meant to take direct aim at Tesla.
The new EQA is one of an assortment of new long-range battery-electric vehicles – and the smallest – the German automaker will bring out this year as part of its new Mercedes-EQ sub-brand. Essentially an all-electric alternative to the conventionally powered GLA crossover, the EQA will go on sale early next month at what Britta Seeger, a member of the company’s board of management says will be “very attractive price points.”
Initially, the EQA will be offered in Europe with other markets, such as China to follow. Mercedes has yet to decide whether it will launch an American version but is giving that consideration. For now, it has said the U.S. will get the somewhat larger EQB crossover as its entry point model in the emerging BEV market.
“Mercedes-EQ aspires to take the lead in the field of electric drive systems and vehicle software,” said Markus Schaefer, the Daimler AG board member overseeing research and the chief operating officer for the Mercedes brand. “The new EQA,” he added in a statement, “allows us to show the way we envisage e-mobility as tailored to the needs of our customers.”
The plan is to launch “a whole family of EQA models,” Schaefer added, much as Mercedes does with conventional gas and diesel products, like the GLA.
Among other things, there will be both front and all-wheel-drive models equipped with single or double motors capable of producing anywhere from 140 to 200 kilowatts, or 190 to 270 horsepower.
And, as is becoming the norm, there will be multiple battery pack options. At the base end, buyers will be offered a range of 426 kilometers per charge, or roughly 265 miles. A later version will boost that to 500 kilometers, or 310 miles. Those numbers are based on European WLTP test cycle. An American version of the EQA would likely get less based on the more stringent EPA testing process.
Billed as an “urban entry model,” the Mercedes EQA would appear to fit well into the European market where electrified vehicles, especially BEVs, have been gaining traction rapidly. In some markets, such as Norway, they now account for the majority of new vehicle sales.
Mercedes’ archrival BMW reports that electrified vehicles, on the whole, generated 15% of its vehicle volume in Europe last year, nearly twice its global total. Plug-based models – including PHEVs – hit a record 12% of the European market during the first nine months of 2020.
Significantly, Tesla has found itself facing a much tougher battle in Europe than it has in other key markets, such as the U.S. and China, with Volkswagen and Renault outselling it in numerous markets and other brands gaining traction.
The next several years could bring a battle for dominance, however. Mercedes, BMW and the Volkswagen Group are among the numerous manufacturers planning to launch a wave of all-electric vehicles by mid-decade. But Tesla plans to fight back by increasing local production. It announced this week that it will begin hiring workers for its new plant in Berlin (as well as at a second new assembly facility going into Texas).
The base Mercedes EQA 250, with its 66.5 kWh battery, will list for 47,540 euros, or $57,536, in the German market. The Tesla Model Y isn’t available there yet but the Model 3 sedan starts at 43,900 euros ($53,130) and, based on what the California automaker has done in the U.S., the Model Y likely will come in around the same price as the Mercedes EV once it starts rolling out of its new Berlin plant in the year ahead, according to various industry analysts.
Long committed to diesel technology, Mercedes and parent Daimler AG committed to a massive shift following the revelation of broad industry rigging of diesel emissions tests a few years ago. It has already revealed several of the all-electric models it has in the works, including the EQA and EQB, as well as what will become the brand’s battery-powered flagship, the EQS.
“By 2022 we will be bringing more than 10 different all-electric vehicles to market. 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.” Daimler CEO Ola Källenius said several years ago.