The EQC, Mercedes’ 1st bet in all-electric cars

The EQC 400 4Matic is predicted to be available in retail next year

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by TMR FILE

MERCEDES-BENZ’S answer to Tesla Inc’s Model X is the EQC, the all-electric SUV that finally made its South-East Asia debut last month in Kuala Lumpur.

The German carmaker’s local unit Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Sdn Bhd (MBM) said the EQC 400 4Matic is predicted to be available in retail next year.

MBM president and CEO Dr Claus Weidner said the company is now eyeing to introduce more electric-vehicles (EVs) in line with the global transition towards the segment.

“The automotive industry is in a big transition now, and EVs or partial EVs are going to be part of the future portfolio. We were the first one to bring hybrids in Malaysia and followed by other models. It is a logical sequence to introduce the EQC now,” Weidner told The Malaysian Reserve in a recent interview.

The EQC is the first fully EV under the carmaker’s electric intelligence brand the EQ.

The premium German marque also launched the first S-Class plug-in hybrid in Malaysia the S-560e, and introduced a new EQ entry variant the C-300e together with the EQC.

The all-electric SUV can go up to 450km in a full-electric mode, powered by an 80kWh battery and can accelerate from zero to 100kph in 5.1 seconds, with a top speed of 180kph.

The centrepiece of the EQC is the lithium-ion battery arranged in the vehicle floor.

With an energy content of 80kWh, the EQC employs a sophisticated operating strategy to supply the vehicle with power, enabling an electric range of 445km to 471km.

According to news reports, Mercedes-Benz is said to ramp the production of the EQC to about 100 units a day and then scale up production to 200 units a day in the coming year.

This projection would mean that production of the SUV would double to around 50,000 cars per year.

In comparison, rival Audi AG is planning to ramp up production to 300 e-tron Quattro cars per day, or up to 75,000 cars per year.

It is not an easy task to make EVs on such a scale, as many auto-players have learnt from the production delays at Tesla’s factory for the Model X and Model 3.

Market wise, the 600 million population in Asean, with rising middle-income earners, presents a market opportunity — and possibly have a first-mover advantage in introducing EVs.

According to a Nissan-commissioned study by Frost & Sullivan, 37% of South-East Asian consumers are open to the idea of buying an EV.

Globally, Mercedes-Benz principal Daimler AG is rolling out over 10 allEVs to the market by 2022 to electrify its entire portfolio to have at least one electric alternative in every model series — taking the total to 50.

At present, Daimler is taking a new overarching business strategy to reinvent mobility under the keyword “CASE” (connected, autonomous, shared and services, and electric) on the back of global transition to a new revolutionised transport solution.

“We are committed to be the pioneer of this industry with state-of-the-art products and innovations to shape the coming mobility landscape. As a longterm and committed investor in the country, MBM sees much potential in the country’s automotive sector and we are ready for an electrified future,” Weidner said.