Mercedes-Benz is going all-electric, the automaker last month announcing plans to sell nothing but battery-electric vehicles by 2030 — where market conditions permit — and we’ll get a good sense of the direction it’s taking at the upcoming Munich Auto Show when it introduces an assortment of BEVs and plug-in hybrids.
The German automaker confirmed the all-new Mercedes-Benz EQE will make its debut at the show. But it won’t be alone. In fact, there appears to be a broad range of electrified models on tap at the Munich event, which replaces the old Frankfurt Motor Show that wrapped up its long run in 2019.
Along with the EQE, we expect to see Mercedes unveil two additional versions of the EQS it launched earlier this year. One will carry the Maybach badge, making it the first all-electric Mercedes model in that ultra-exclusive exclusive segment. There should be several new AMG performance models relying on hybrid and all-electric drive technology. And at the other end of the spectrum, the little Mercedes EQB crossover will make its European debut.
The German luxury brand will go through a dramatic transformation during the coming decade. Familiar gas and diesel models will begin phasing out in the next several years, Mercedes initially shifting to a mix of plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs, as well as all-electric models. By 2030, CEO Ola Källenius announced on July 22, the brand will sell nothing but BEVs.
A critical part of that transition will be electrifying the brand’s most popular models, including the familiar, midsize E-Class. Nearly two months before the Munch show opens, Mercedes has offered up a pair of teaser images hinting at what it has in store in the form of the new EQE which, it says, will become “the new standard in its class, combining unrivalled driving dynamics and calmness.”
A casual observer might, initially, confuse the EQE and bigger EQS. That’s no surprise. The highly aerodynamic “one-box” design language that debuted on the flagship model will carry over to the smaller sedan. The interior of the EQE will likewise pick up on much of what was seen in the EQS, starting with the new hyperscreen system stretching from pillar to pillar across the instrument panel.
Beyond that, it remains to be seen whether the midsize EQE will get the same drivetrain options, which in the EQS begins with the “base” model’s 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.
EQS Maybach and AMG
There are a number of benefits gained from using electric drivetrain technology that should appeal to luxury buyers. For one thing, electric motors run all but silently. At the same time, they deliver gobs of torque the moment they’re switched on. And those are advantages Mercedes intends to leverage with two variants of the EQS expected to premier in Munich.
It’s unclear whether the EQS Maybach will get a longer wheelbase, as is the case with a conventional S-Class Maybach edition. But the EQS already offers tremendous amounts of interior room by reclaiming some of the space that would normally be taken up by the engine compartment. What’s certain is that it will deliver an even more luxurious experience than the already lavishly equipped EQS.
As for the EQS AMG, it’s expected to amp up the pony count substantially, various sources suggesting numbers in the 750 and even 800 hp range, with torque certain to top 700 lb-ft. That should bring 0-60 launch times down into the low 3 second range, perhaps even in the 2s, positioning the EQS AMG as a serious challenger to the Tesla Model S Plaid, in terms of speed.
Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV
When the big EQS sedan was unveiled last April, Källenius and other officials broadly hinted that there would be a variety of spinoffs to follow. And, much as the conventional S-Class sedan has its counterpart in the form of the big GLS sport-utility vehicle, there will be a crossover-style alternative to the EQS sedan.
Not much is known about this crossover, though there have been a number of camouflaged prototypes caught in spy shots lately. The general expectation is that the all-electric ute will make its appearance in showrooms late next year as a 2023 model.
It’s expected to share the same drivetrain technology as the EQS sedan — and an AMG variant seems all but certain to be part of the mix, perhaps even a Maybach version.
Expect to see both sedan and SUV versions of the new Mercedes EQE, incidentally. And the EQE and EQS SUVs are both expected to roll out of the automaker’s assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Like the rest of the auto industry, Mercedes knows it will face a tough challenge in China, the world’s largest luxury car market, as it transitions to electric power. There’s a broad spectrum of local battery-car startups, as well as traditional competitors such as Audi and BMW. So, it was no surprise the compact EQB crossover made its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show last April.
But the smaller European market can’t be ignored — not with EU regulators set to enact plans that would phase out even plug-in hybrids by 2035.
“With the all new EQB we have created an iconic electric SUV that takes the heritage of our boxy off-road vehicles and transforms this into the future,” said Gorden Wagener, chief design officer of Daimler Group, at the Shanghai show.
At 184 inches in length, 72 inches in width and 66 inches in height, and a wheelbase of 66 inches, the Mercedes EQB’s dimensions are nearly identical to those of the conventional GLB crossover. Though the design is more traditional than the new EQS and EQE battery cars, the EQB crossover does go with a new, skateboard-like platform, with batteries, motors and other key electrical components below the load floor.
Mercedes-AMG GT 73 Plug-in Hybrid
While the ultimate goal is to go all-electric, Mercedes won’t get there immediately. CEO Källenius stressed the first step in the transition will bring a mix of BEVs and PHEVs which, by 2025, are expected to generate 50% of the automaker’s global sales.
The transformation will touch all Mercedes sub-brands, notably including AMG which is expected to benefit from the acquisition of YASA, a British startup, that’s developed an entirely new series of high-performance motors.
It’s unclear when they’ll go into production, but AMG isn’t waiting. If anything, it’s jumping into plug-power quickly, with the widely rumored GT 73 expected to make its first appearance in Munich next month. It’s expected to become the most powerful version yet of the GT — which is exclusive to AMG. Spy shots recently caught one out and about with badging that indicates it will pair a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 with electric motors, the package likely to deliver in excess of 800 horsepower.
Targeting the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, the AMG GT 73 won’t come cheap, at an estimated price topping $200,000.
Gas Power Still Around — for Now
Mercedes isn’t abandoning the internal combustion, at least not yet. And there appears to be at least one conventionally powered model coming to the Munich show. The All-Terrain is a high-riding version of the compact C-Class Wagon and meant to tackle the likes of the Audi allroad models.
Meanwhile, don’t be surprised to see Mercedes use the new German show to tease more of its future plans. There’ve been some rumors the carmaker could bring the planned Vision EQXX to Munich. But that seems unlikely as, just a month ago, Källenius signaled it would not be revealed until 2022. An alternative, according to some reports, would be an updated version of the Mercedes AVTR concept that debuted at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
That was shorthand for “Avatar,” and hinted at the film of that name, with Avatar director James Cameron playing a role in the development of the concept vehicle — which was loaded with an array of high-tech features making the new hyperscreen seem tame.