Elon should be worried. Tesla has finally got some serious competition.
Mercedes outlined its plans at the end of January 2018 for domination of the premium EV market and they are big. Let’s dig right in to what Stuttgart has planned. Get used to a new brand. EQ is where it’s at if you’re looking to plug in. What does EQ mean, we don’t know. Probably electric and something else, quick, quality, quack..could be anything really. The first vehicle produced under the EQ name is going to be the EQC, an all electric SUV. Built in Bremen and at BBAC in Beijing for 2019. Think of it like the GLC, Mercedes small SUV, but with a whole lot of batteries and a couple electric motors replacing the engine, transmission and gas tank stuff.
But it’s not going to stop at one vehicle. Mercedes is building out a network for production of electric vehicles around the globe with battery production facilities being constructed in close proximity to most of the production plants. The goal here is to be able to scale up with short notice. If a model is in high demand the battery plant can quickly supply the vehicle production facility with the juice it needs. If there is excess capacity battery packs can be transported to other facilities that may need them. The map is the current and near future MB production network, in blue are the locations that are initially going to be used to produce electric vehicles. Over the next few years Mercedes is going to be expanding this to produce EVs in six plants spanning three continents creating its “global battery network”. Tesla has a battery plant in the Nevada desert and screws the stuff together in Fremont, CA…small potatoes.
It doesn’t stop there for Benz. It’s investing $11 billion to see that by 2022 each model it produces has either a hybrid of full electric model. But what really stands out here is Mercedes plans to build its own batteries, controlling its supply network. Apart from Tesla no other major manufacturer has taken on the challenge of building its own battery components. This gives MB a major advantage over BMW, Audi, etc.
What should really cause Tesla to be concerned is not only the Mercedes is going to have battery production facilities but that Mercedes knows how to put a car together better than Tesla. Tesla makes a good product but the level of fit and finish, panel gaps, quirks when operating in extreme temperature conditions and the like are well known. Mercedes has over 125 years refining the process of building these things and knows what works and what doesn’t. While Tesla certainly got the jump on being first to market with a premium all electric vehicle history has shown being first doesn’t guarantee success and often the opposite. Mercedes also has another thing going for it, it makes a profit. Tesla loses lots of money every quarter and profitability still looks to be a ways off, you can only run a company that way for so long.
Mercedes current goal is in the near future to offer more than 50 electrified vehicle variants. That’s a lot of choice for the electric enthusiast. More than ten of those models will be fully electric and will range from subcompact Smart type vehicles to large SUVs. The fortwo Coupe and Cabrio electric vehicles at the Smart plant in Hambach went into production in 2017 and are actually the start of the 4th generation of Damiler electric vehicles with models like the B-Class preceding them.
Look for the EV production map to fill in more. Up next plants in Rastatt, Sindelfingen, and Tuscaloosa will start producing EV and or hybrid models.
Maybe Elon Musk should consider giving up now and focus on his plan to build his fast subway (Hyperloop) Mercedes has got him surrounded.
Images and Video: Copyright Daimler AG