They Don't Need One, but Mercedes-Benz Promises Grilles on All Future Electrics
The one and only styling refresh bestowed on Tesla’s Model S involved the removal of its phony grille, with CEO Elon Musk claiming the blacked-out nose had done its duty in luring — and lulling — nervous customers. The subsequent Model X went without, and the Model 3 looks like that masked disfigured girl in Eyes Without a Face.
Mercedes-Benz isn’t on the same page. Perhaps believing that Tesla buyers tolerate the lack of grille only because the vehicles are Teslas, the German automaker has vowed to pretend there’s an internal combustion engine and radiator behind the face of each of its electric vehicles.
The brand’s 2020 EQC, unveiled earlier this week, looks a lot like the model from which it derives its platform: the GLC crossover. Sure, there’s dimensional differences and a different take on the front facia, but the two vehicles remain outwardly similar. That’s no accident.
Speaking to Autocar, M-B sales and marketing chief Jorg Heinermann said, “We have deliberately decided to take a step-by-step approach here.” The old electric B-Class notwithstanding, M-B’s foray into electric vehicles is a recent endeavor, and the first order of business is not scaring off potential or returning customers with a jarring EV. The EQC’s conservative exterior will give way to more radical designs, Heinermann said.
The automaker’s interior designer, Hartmut Sinkwitz, added, “[The EQC] is the starting point for the electric family. We felt this is the right amount of revolution to start with for this car. You will see more with other EQ models.”
As mentioned, one thing that won’t change when these wilder models roll out (M-B plans 10 EQ-badged battery-electric vehicles by 2022) is the grille. While concealed coolant lines can keep a battery pack and electric motor from overheating, grilles needn’t serve a mechanical function.
Basically, said exterior designer Robert Lesnik, Mercedes-Benz customers are used to a grille, they like having a grille, and they don’t want to part with a grille.
Without one, “the car would be faceless,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if there needs to be an air intake or not. We believe that every EQ car needs a certain shape in the front. There are many other car companies that are experimenting [without a grille], because they don’t have 130 years of history. That’s not what we’re going to do.”
[Image: Daimler AG]
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