Mercedes-Benz amps up EV models
Mercedes set to release four new electric cars.
According to a report in autocar Mercedes are ramping up their line up of Electric cars.
The EV push follows a long-awaited announcement by the German government that it will begin offering sales subsidies on all EVs priced at less than €60,000 as part of a €1.2 billion electric car purchase incentive project.
The plans have been orchestrated by Mercedes-Benz’s outgoing R&D boss, Thomas Weber, and call for four new electric models to join the Mercedes line-up by the end of 2020.
Two electric saloons and two SUVs are expected. Each is set to share the basic elements of a more conventionally powered sibling, including so-called hard points such the windscreen and roof structure. However, there will be unique design touches to make them recognisable as zero e-missions vehicles, according to insiders privy to the proposals for the four models.
The new electric car line-up is aimed at pitching Mercedes into direct competition with Tesla, which has led the electric car push and had solid levels of sales growth since the Tesla Model S began production in 2012. It also comes in response to recent moves by key rival Audi, which has already announced that it will begin offering a production version of its e-tron quattro concept in 2018 in the first stage of a similar electric car offensive.
A heavy shroud of secrecy surrounds the upcoming electric-powered Mercedes models, although recent comments by Weber suggest the saloons will be based around the C-Class and S-Class. A pair of accompanying electric crossover SUVs, meanwhile, will compare to the GLA compact hatchback and GLC mid-size crossover utility vehicles.
Mercedes has intensively studied the idea of bringing stand-alone electric cars with uniquely engineered bodies to showrooms. However, it says the high cost of development, components and production makes it prohibitive at volumes below 50,000 per year during the first generation, even for high priced models. Its conclusion is backed up by Tesla’s inability to turn a profit since the Model S, which currently has a base price of £51,900 in the UK, first went into production.
Mercedes has offered an Electric B class for some time now. The car was developed in corporation with Tesla. It is not a big seller.
The GLA-based model is set to adopt a modified version of the MFA platform currently used beneath Mercedes’ first dedicated electric car, the B-Class Electric Drive. The C-Class, S-Class and GLC-based electric cars will use a newly developed variant of Mercedes’ MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) platform conceived specifically for EV applications and known to insiders as the MEA (Modular Electric Architecture).
According to the German magazine Autobild, it will have a flat battery pack under the floor, at least two motors (one per axle), and up to 400 kilowatts (540 horsepower) of output.
The first recipient of this new platform will be the GLC Fuel Cell, (Ed you mean Fool Cell) due next year. The new hydrogen-powered model, which will be offered to customers on either a limited lease or outright purchase scheme, is described by Weber as a forerunner to Mercedes’ new EV line-up. As well as housing batteries within the floor, its version of the MEA platform features tanks to house the hydrogen.
One of the key elements of the MEA platform is its ability to offer either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive in combination with up to three electric motors.
Although it is still early days, insiders at Mercedes’ R&D centre in Stuttgart confirm the company is developing its own range of electric motors, ranging in output from about 75kW (101bhp) to 400kW (536bhp).
A new generation of lithium-ion battery cells from Accumotive will provide the Mercedes EVs with a range of more than 250 miles — the minimum prescribed by Weber to make the new zero-emissions models a practical alternative to their more conventional ICE siblings.
In addition to its own range of electric cars, Mercedes is currently putting the finishing touches to a successor to sister company Smart’s Fortwo Electric Drive.
Expected to make its debut this year, the new two-seater is set to be joined by a fourseat Forfour Electric Drive fitted with a slightly larger battery and a more powerful electric motor — a move that will provide the Mercedes-Benz with six EVs by the turn of the decade. An Electric Fortwo was offered a few years ago in very limited numbers.
The electric-powered Mercedes models are expected to be produced on dedicated production lines at the company’s Rastatt, Bremen and Sindelfingen plants in Germany.
Mercedes also announced a €500 million investment at its Hamburg, which will supply its new range of electric cars with selected components.
Further investments are being poured into battery production. In March, Mercedes parent company Daimler announced plans to invest €500m in an expansion of its existing battery production facilities in Germany.
We look forward to reporting more as plans are confirmed and car are ready for test drives.