All-Electric Luxury SUV From Mercedes-Benz Another Challenge to Tesla

Paul Ausick

German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday revealed the first all-electric vehicle in its EQ line of vehicles first announced in 2016. The EQC is an all-electric sport utility vehicle and is expected to go into production next year and be available in the United States in 2020.

Add the EQC to the popular Jaguar I-Pace, the just-announced Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-tron and an expected BMW announcement, and you might begin piecing together why Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has been behaving so strangely. Tesla is showing its second-generation Roadster at the same Swiss auto show where Mercedes unveiled the EQC, and the competition for the high-end of the all-electric vehicle market is getting crowded.

The EQC has an estimated driving range of around 279 miles on a full charge and has two electric motors, one driving the front wheels and the other driving the rear wheels. The front electric motor is optimized for efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear motor adds “sportiness.” Combined, they generate an output of 402 horsepower and a maximum torque of 564 lb-ft.

The top speed of 112 mph is electronically limited, and the car’s acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is estimated at 4.9 seconds. The battery capacity is 80kWh. Mercedes has not yet set a price on the EQC.

Last year, Mercedes announced a $1 billion expansion plan for its assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the company currently builds its GLE and GLS SUVs for worldwide distribution. The expansion includes a battery plant to enable the company to build its EQC models there “at the beginning of the next decade.” The first EQCs will be built in the company’s Bremen, Germany, plant.

There’s been no word from the company regarding the future of those plans if the trade talks between the United States and the European Union fail to reach an agreement that President Trump finds acceptable. The Tuscaloosa plant employs about 3,700 people and builds about 300,000 vehicles a year, more than 70% of which are exported.

In an interview with German magazine Stern, Tuscaloosa mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Walt Maddox said:

This fight could cost jobs now and in the future. Decisions are being made today in boardrooms in Stuttgart for years down the road.

If Maddox is elected in November, he would be the state’s first Democratic governor since 1959.