Mercedes will be launching an electrified vehicle sub-brand to directly compete with the likes of Tesla and BMW according to two people familiar with plan.
The German automaker will start with two dedicated “electric” sport utility vehicles and two sedans, according to the sources who asked not to be named because details haven’t been disclosed. Unclear is whether these vehicles will all be the pure battery electric variety like Tesla favors, or battery electric as well as extended-range and plug-in hybrid as has been the case with BMW, though this variety seems likely.
In any event, the un-named sources told Bloomberg that Mercedes new sub-brand which was previously rumored as coming has not yet had a name for it chosen. One of the sources said this, plus more specifics on the new vehicles’ drivetrains, are yet to be released.
Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in June that the company planned to unveil an electric car at the Paris motor show in September. The company also said that its next-generation electric car platform which will follow Tesla’s lead on battery placement and high-powered torque as part of its “multi-model vehicle architecture.”
Germany’s luxury carmakers are feeling pressure to show they too can make electric innovations that capture the imagination of buyers and can compete directly with Tesla. They’re also facing stringent emissions regulations in their home country that require low-pollution vehicles. So far, it’s been a tough sell with German car buyers, who have been skeptical of limited driving range, long charging times, comparatively high prices, and at times unappealing designs.
New German subsidies are helping with some of that, and the automakers are meanwhile working on things from their end.
Mercedes is taking a differing course than BMW and its “I” brand. BMW will be delaying rolling out another “i” model for another five years, while Mercedes will start selling an electric car from its new sub-brand lineup before the end of the decade, one of the sources said. Mercedes had originally planned to add electric motors to existing models.
Parent company Daimler will also be rolling out an all-electric heavy-duty truck at the beginning of the next decade thought its Daimler Trucks division. The company has also announced plans to roll out electric versions of each of the vehicles in the Smart city-car brand.
Christoph Sedlmayr, a spokesman for Daimler, declined to comment on the number and model type of electric cars planned. Sedlmayr did say that there will be more than one model rolling out.
The first of the new plug-in electrified vehicles will be produced at the company’s factory in Bremen, Germany, according to one source familiar with the plans. The Bremen plant will also be building a fuel-cell electric version of the GLC SUV that can be charged both with hydrogen and at an electric outlet.