The new Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan has its sights set high and appears to be delivering a direct hit against the Tesla Model S.
Set to debut later this year, the influential German magazine Auto Motor und Sport summed up the first review of the all-electric equivalent of the familiar S-Class by declaring the new EQS “the best electric car in the world.” Almost simultaneously, analysts with Swiss bank UBS said the Teutonic battery car tops the Model S on a number of key fronts.
“While EQS falls short of Tesla’s acceleration and top speed, the high range and the overall luxury experience make the car a very strong competitor to Model S,” the bank’s analysts declared.
Long reluctant to enter the battery-car space, Mercedes has done an about face and now plans to invest 70 billion euros, or $83 billion, in the technology by 2025. It has already rolled out several models in Europe and China but the new EQS will become its first truly global offering, set to become the first long-range BEV Mercedes will bring to the United States this coming autumn.
“This car, in itself, won’t make or break Mercedes-Benz, but it has to live up to all the expertise buyers expect from a Mercedes,” Stephanie Brinley, principal auto analyst with IHS Markit, told TheDetroitBureau.com when the EQS had its formal unveiling in April.
Pushing the boundaries
The battery car adopts a radical new “one-box” design that is meant to distinguish the EQS from existing models like the also-new 2021 S-Class. The styling also put a premium on reducing range-stealing wind drag. And because the drivetrain has been moved into a skateboard-like platform, some space normally devoted to an engine compartment has been repurposed for passengers and cargo.
The interior adopts an equally radical new design and the car can be ordered with the new Hyperscreen technology, with displays stretching from pillar to pillar.
The “base” EQS 450+ will feature a single, rear-mounted electric motor generating 329 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The EQS 580 4Matic will add a motor on the front axle and bump that up to 516 hp and 611 lb-ft — enough to launch from 0-60 in 4.1 seconds.
As for charging, the 107.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack can boost range by nearly 200 miles in 15 minutes and go from a 10% state-of-charge to 80% in 31 minutes using one of the newer 400V DC public quick-chargers, according to Mercedes. While not quite as quick as the Porsche Panamera which can access 800-volt systems, the EQS will deliver substantially quicker charging than the Model S, UBS analyst Patrick Hummel pointed out.
A more efficient drive system
He also highlighted the efficiency of the electric drive system. At highway speeds, the EQS uses about 15.8 kWh of energy per 100 kilometers, or 25.3 kWh per 100 miles. The Tesla is rated at 33 kWh for the same distance — though the numbers are a bit misleading, as the initial estimates for the EQS are based on the European WLTP test cycle. But that is expected to come in at around 30 kWh/100 miles when tested by the EPA.
Likewise, the EQS isn’t expected to get the same 478-mile range estimate it has for Europe. But it’s likely to near, if not beat, the longest-range Tesla Model S at 402 miles.
Tesla does have a price advantage, a base version of the Model S starting around $79,000. The EQS is expected to come in around $110,000 to start, with a loaded version $189,000. The new Tesla Model S Plaid starts around $131,000
If the EQS lives up to expectations, it could pose a serious challenge for Tesla — the U.S. automaker already starting to lose sales in the face of growing competition. In Europe, its share of the fast-growing European EV market fell from 31% to 13% from 2019 to 2020, according to industry data.
Tesla facing serious competition for the first time
The Model S, in particular, is facing the threat of new alternatives. That includes traditional brands as well as offerings from start-ups like the Lucid Air launching around the end of this year.
The Model S sedan, as well as the comparably sized and priced Model X SUV, have seen a sharp decline in sales, but that comes as Tesla’s newer, more affordable Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV gain traction. The automaker has hinted it will deliver record global sales for the second quarter.
But, even there, it faces plenty of new competition. Mercedes is entering the fray with products like the EQB and EQC battery cars. BMW recently launched the new iX and i4, and there will soon be a range of additional competitors coming from the likes of Volkswagen, Cadillac and others.