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Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unveils all-electric SUV

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Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unveils all-electric SUV

Mercedes-Benz, the luxury brand of Daimler AG, unveiled a battery-powered sports utility vehicle on Sept. 4 designed from scratch with an electric-only powertrain — the first of around 10 plug-in cars the automaker hopes to add to its product line-up by 2022.

The SUV is due to go on sale in Germany in early 2019, with a gradual roll-out across Europe and in China, where an existing Mercedes Benz plant in Beijing will also build the car. The EQC will then be launched in the United States in 2020.

"This car ... gives the first clues about our future direction and as far as technology is concerned, it says something about how Mercedes Benz will do electric vehicles," Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told reporters at the official launch ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.

SNL Image

The EQC, Daimler's first all-electric SUV.
Source: Daimler AG

The C-class-sized EQC has a range of 450 kilometers, or 279 miles, on one full charge of its 80-kilowatt lithium-ion battery, as measured by the New European Driving Cycle standard, though manufacturers tend to offer a lower "real-world" figure based on their own testing.The company aims to have one electric car in every market segment it competes in by 2022 and executives said the company chose to start with an SUV because of that segment’s continued rapid growth. The EQ sub-brand, first used on the electric version of Daimler’s diminutive Smart car, signifies "electric intelligence."

Pricing has also yet to be confirmed, though as a premium brand, it is likely to compete for customers with Tesla Inc.'s SUV, the Model X, which costs around $80,000. Thus, Daimler will become one of the first mainstream car makers to encroach on the U.S. carmaker’s virtual monopoly in high-end battery SUVs.

Mercedes representatives declined to identify the supplier of the battery cells but confirmed Daimler subsidiary Accumotive would assemble the battery packs at its €500 million battery facility in Kamenz, Germany.

SNL Image

The EQC is the first of 10 plug-in electric-only cars Daimler intends to add by 2022.
Source: Daimler AG

Tobias Handschuh, a senior manager from Daimler’s battery research unit, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the company was investing in research into several new kinds of batteries that could eventually replace lithium ion.The battery pack will be fitted with a fluid circulation system to either warm or cool the vehicle in more extreme climate conditions, as excessive cold can temporarily reduce available power and make charging more difficult, while excessive heat can damage the battery.

While solid-state batteries still look the most promising, they can still not hold enough power to justify the weight they would add to a vehicle, he said.

"Solid state, if it works and everything goes right, I think would be ready by 2025," he said.