By on April 13, 2018

Did you ever the the feeling that the Tesla Model S was just an S-Class for EV enthusiasts? Mercedes-Benz sure hopes so, because its CEO, the mustachioed Dieter Zetsche, recently let fly that the brand has a full-sized electric under development called the EQ S. While Mercedes’ core lineup will welcome all manner of hybrid and mild-hybrid powertrains in the years to come, Zetsche says the brand will also start building fully electric vehicles by way of its EQ line.

The EQ nameplate is something we’ve heard a lot about in the past, but its true purpose has yet to be defined by Daimler. Typically, we’ve only seen EQ badging added to concept vehicles promising electrification, with no additional details. But new claims from the CEO suggest the category may be reserved for models that use batteries as their only power source. 

According to Bloomberg, Zetsche said Daimler intends to launch 10 all-electric vehicles by 2022. He also said Mercedes will move into widespread electrification through the addition of 48-volt electrical systems — like on the 2019 CLS — and even some plug-ins. “All vehicles will be electrified,” Zetsche said.

Of course, there is a world of difference between a mild hybrid and a battery electric vehicle. That could be where the EQ designation comes in. Doctor Zee noted EQ cars will boast a battery range that’s “totally different” from what’s on offer today. Presumably, he means among Mercedes vehicles. However, Daimler’s head of R&D, Ola Källenius, said the company has been working with various startups on the development of solid state batteries for a couple of years.

Most estimates put a major breakthrough in the technology several years into the future. If Daimler were to get there first, it could allow Mercedes-Benz to leave all other EV manufacturers in the dust. Still, Källenius estimates solid-state technology probably wouldn’t come to fruition until 2025 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the EQ S is estimated for production around 2020 and should offer Model S shoppers a very tempting alternative — even if it doesn’t have next-generation battery hardware.

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19 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz Plots an Electric S-Class...”

  • avatar

    “Dieter Zetsche, recently let fly that the brand has a full-sized electric under development called the EQ S”

    This makes good sense. Plenty of margin to subsidize higher mfg costs/R&D per unit.

    “Daimler intends to launch 10 all-electric vehicles by 2022”

    This does not. Daimler is supposed to become more of a full line manufacturer, but the sad truth is proles are broke in zee West and can’t really afford your gas models let alone an exotic drivetrain. Maybe there’s a China move here whose numbers look good?

    But then again, watch China play hardball with the REs as a tactic, and watch the battery costs soar. All your neodymium are belong to us.

    Additional: “Most estimates put a major breakthrough in the technology several years into the future.”

    Unlikely, at least on the battery side.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It’s definitely aimed at China. foremost.

    • 0 avatar

      The batteries are making steady incremental improvements. No miracle breakthroughs in technology going into production, but really solid advances in existing technology.

      The latest going into production is NCM 811 cathode technology at S.K Innovations and soon LG Chem. They’ve improved density, increased durability, and lowered costs by using a ratio 8 to 1 to 1 of nickel, cobalt, and maganese. I think they’re talking sub-$100 per kWh for the entire pack, not just the cells.

      Rare earth supplies are being discovered in places other than China with the latest by Japan. Its a case of where there is a huge demand (like cobalt), new supplies start to come online and supply improves.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re talking months to years for supplies to come online while the Chinese continue to dominate about 90% of world production. Australian production did effectively triple since 2011, but this was due to the reopening of existing mines shuttered in the 1990s.

        “The United States was a significant producer through the 1990s, but low-priced materials being sold by China forced mines in the United States and other countries out of operation. As China limited exports, and prices increased rapidly in 2009 and 2010, mines in Australia and the United States became active again.”

        Take a look at RE production through 2015:

        Maybe the Gigafactory will be the answer? Don’t know, but these are a non-starter outside of expensive exotics in USDM. Tesla cannot even profit on the models it sells as it is, and there is a growing niche market for them. The Chinese actually have money as a society, because they did not spend $13+ trillion on wars for others which do not benefit actual Americans. Perhaps they will have to cash and desire to buy Daimler’s wares? Not betting on it personally.

  • avatar

    May have to change that nameplate for the Korean market as Genesis has the EQ900 (tho, may revert to the G90 nameplate used in other markets).

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Maybe not. Lexus had the LS400 / LS430, and then later on Lincoln came out with their LS sedan. Also, the Bentley Continental (currently GT / GTC) and Lincoln Continental have coexisted for the last several decades.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Yeah, OK.

    S-Class US sales:
    2014 = 25276
    2015 = 21934
    2016 = 18803
    2017 = 15888… a 37% drop since 2014.

    Tesla Model S US sales:
    2014 = 16550
    2015 = 26400
    2016 = 29156
    2017 = 28800… a 74% increase since 2014.

    Does M-B plan to beat Tesla with an electric S-Class, or just be an also-ran, or what? I can’t really tell why they would bother with this project. Are they seriously going to build a plant big enough to produce this many EVs, and from where will they source that many batteries, solid state or otherwise?

    Besides, solid state batteries are always 5 years away. Even someone with working solid state technology *today* would be 5 years from a production-scale facility.

    • 0 avatar

      The thing with battery companies is that as soon as they have something good, they go into stealth mode. You won’t hear about a breakthrough technology going into production until just a few months before they start rolling off the line in mass quantities. So, there’s no way to know how close a break-though in let’s say metal-air is (and I read a paper somewhere that there was a recent breakthrough). It may take them 5 years to get it into mass production, but you won’t hear about it until year 4.5 or so. It’s really difficult to know what the timeline is. What they’ll do is NDA someone like MB or one of the battery producers. So, Mercedes is probably making plans on technology that is unannounced.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        That’s an interesting theory, but it requires a startup to raise and then spend billions of dollars on a battery factory large enough to support the production of tens of thousands of cars like the S-Class… all while in stealth mode.

        These activities seem unlikely to go undetected for the time it would take to accomplish all that. It took years to build the Gigafactory before it produced a single battery, and it has been the subject of drone flyovers forever.

        If I had a good solid state battery, I’d prove it publicly and then build several Gigafactories to support the demand. But the costs of the technology must be prohibitive, and/or there remain technical issues or scalability problems. If someone has solved these problems, I think we’d know right away.

    • 0 avatar

      SCE to AUX,

      Sir Elon and other Tesla executives who were on the Q4 2017 earnings call were adamant that they would only build 100k of S and X during 2018. They insisted that they were not changing the battery packs over to the new Panasonic cells that are used in the Model 3.

      Q1 2018 overseas sales are declining, and the Model S is quite long in the tooth with respect to an interior that would match the MB S-Class. Not slamming Tesla, just go sit in both and draw your own conclusion.

      Agreed that solid-state batteries are a long way off. That doesn’t mean that an old interior is still OK. If Norway, for example, were to lower their credits, you would see additional decline. The Dutch have already done so and EV sales plummeted. Germany routinely adjusts their tax credits to favor the home team (and that would not be Tesla).

      In the last week, Tesla has decided not to “refurbish” the off-lease cars that will be coming off lease, and the prices are astronomical.

      “We don’t need no stinking dealers” is going to come back and bite them in the a**.

  • avatar

    Quick someone tell magic roundabout Zebedee EQ S is sedan. Tessa have model Q committee.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I like the Perspex-covered and now-useless grill. SMRT.

    • 0 avatar

      How much open space is actually required for proper cooling though? The vestigial faux grille is pretty common (if not for assorted front end sensors, just because the designers spec a larger grille than the engineers demand).

  • avatar

    So Mercedes now apes Tesla? Are they going to make EQ X, EQ Y and EQ 3 too? Oh, forgot about EQ Roadster and EQ Semi. And please rocket too.

    • 0 avatar

      The S class moniker has been with Mercedes for decades. If anyone stole a name here, it would be Tesla — but even that is quite hard to argue because there aren’t as many letters in the alphabet as there are car models on sale.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Can I get a brochure for the 1972 Tesla line? Yeah, the Mercedes S class debuted in 1972.

  • avatar

    The thing is going to weigh four tons.

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