A new wave of electric cars is coming to America, and while newcomers are helping it along, much of the swell is the work of well-known players. In the past year, Porsche launched its Taycan, Ford rolled out the Mustang Mach-E, and General Motors unveiled the rebooted Hummer nameplate as a battery-powered pickup truck and an SUV.
Now Mercedes-Benz has dived in, unveiling its first all-electric vehicle for the US market, the rather stupendous-looking EQS. Mercedes pulled the cover off last week, and the S-Class of EVs — the flagship of the company’s EQ electric brand — immediately became the most luxurious electric car money should soon be able to buy. (EQS hits dealerships this fall, but Mercedes hasn’t yet announced pricing).
“We weren’t the first to launch an electric car,” Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dimitris Psillakis told Insider. “But we’re the first to launch the best car with EQS.”
In terms of the Mercedes lineup, the EQS aligns with the legendary S-Class, which arrived in the early 1970s and set a tone for the German automaker worldwide. The S-Class has since matured into the definitive luxury four door, so it made sense for the company to enter the EV space with an all-new vehicle platform that simultaneously embraced the future and evoked the past.
Psillakis said that the S-Class is still outselling its competition and that by introducing the new EQ sub-brand with the nameplate, Mercedes was raising expectations.
“We set the bar high, but we’re not stopping with EQS,” he said, noting that electric SUVs are on the way.
Coming to America with EQS
Now that the big luxury players are crowding into a market that Tesla dominated for a decade, Mercedes needed to stand apart. So it concentrated on making EQS a feast for the senses.
“It’s a very strong electric driving product with state-of-the-art features, and it has a fantastic interior and exterior,” Britta Seeger, who heads up marketing and sales for Mercedes, told Insider. (She’s also a member of the board of management of parent company Daimler.)
Two trim levels of EQS are coming to American by the end of 2021. The extended range EQS 450+ will offer a range of about 480 miles on a single charge, according to Mercedes. The EQS 580 4Matic, with a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive drivetrain, boasts a claimed 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds, versus its sibling’s 5.5 seconds.
The EQS 450+’s output translates into 329 horsepower with 406 pound-feet of torque, while the EQS 580 makes 516 horsepower and a stonking 611 pound-feet of torque.
The showstopper inside both cars is the MBUX Hyperscreen, a 56-inch, OLED screen that stretches from one side of the dashboard to the other, encompassing the instrument cluster and infotainment features. (The setup is standard for the 580 and an option for the 450, which otherwise has a 12.8-inch central touchscreen).
With EV sales still paltry relative to internal combustion vehicles, Mercedes knows it’s taking on some risk. But that risk is far lower than it was even just five years ago.
“The EV market is pretty small,” Psillakis said. “At the same time, if you see the degree of increase year-over-year, it’s impressive. And pretty soon, the numbers will be striking because you’ll have many more products catering to different price segments and needs.”
So America’s first all-electric Mercedes isn’t launching with outsized goals. But it does have a reputation to live up to.
“With EQS, we’re basically looking to offer a vehicle in an existing electric market,” he said. “But offer customers a Mercedes electric car, and have it be the best at the moment in terms of design.”