Mercedes-Benz ups ante on competition against Tesla Model S with all-electric Vision EQS concept car


Ola Kaellenius, CEO of German car maker Mercedes, stands in front of a Mercedes Vision EQS car as he addresses a press conference on September 10, 2019 on the fair grounds in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, where preparations are under way for the International Auto Show (IAA).

Daniel Roland | AFP | Getty Images

For the moment, it’s just a concept vehicle, but the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS is widely believed to offer a clear hint of what an all-electric version of the brand’s flagship S-Class will look like.

The EQS is one of more than a dozen concept and production battery-cars that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week, a number of those eventually set to roll into showrooms in the U.S., as well as Europe, China and other major markets. 

The Vision EQS sits alongside an already growing array of production models from Mercedes, including the much cheaper EQB and EQC and helps underscore not only the financial commitment parent Daimler is making to “electrify” its line-up, but its determination to dethrone Tesla as king of the emerging battery-car market.

Visually, the Vision EQS adopts what Mercedes is calling a “one bow” design language, taking the coupe-like shape of its current S-Class to the next level. While long, low and wide, the concept accommodates the new opportunities afforded by the skateboard-like platform that houses its battery pack, motors and other drivetrain components. Without a big engine up front, designers freed up some of that space to provide room for passengers and cargo.

This is, of course, a concept vehicle, and a number of details aren’t likely to make it into production in current form, including the camera system that replaces conventional side view mirrors, and the “floating” instrument panel and rectangular steering wheel. The cabin replaces conventional gauges, knobs and switches with an assortment of touchscreens, including ones built into each of the front seat armrests.

The newly presented study “Vision EQS” in the Mercedes hall at the IAA. LED animations in the form of small Mercedes stars can be seen in the “radiator grille”.

Boris Roessler | picture alliance | Getty Images

To emphasize its focus on “sustainable” transportation, Mercedes has largely replaced the materials, like leather, traditionally associated with a high-end luxury vehicle. Instead, it uses various artificial materials, the roof liner including recycled “ocean waste” plastic.

Mercedes designers also have downplayed chrome, both inside and out, replacing it with accent lighting wherever possible. Outside, nearly 200 pinpoint LEDs surround the classic Mercedes tri-star logo up front, another 229 individually illuminated stars forming a “lightbelt” at the rear.

By relying on lightweight materials and an extremely aerodynamic design, the 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack in the Vision EQS is promised to deliver about 700 kilometers, or 435 miles of range, though that’s using the fairly generous European WLTP test cycle. U.S. EPA numbers typically run about a quarter less.

The Mercedes Vision EQS of German car maker Mercedes is pictured at the company’s booth at the Frankfurt motor show IAA 2019, in Frankfurt am Main Germany, on September 10, 2019.

Daniel Roland | AFP | Getty Images

The battery pack slides into the skateboard-like platform, as do the concept’s two motors, one on each axle, that provide a combined 469 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. And, with that torque coming on almost instantaneously, Mercedes estimates the EQS would hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, with a top speed limited at more than 124 mph. The layout also allow for a through-the-road all-wheel-drive system that can instantly shift power from front to rear.

The platform used in the EQS is “scalable and usable on a cross-model basis,” Mercedes noted in a detailed release on the concept. That means it has been designed for production and use on “a wide range of different vehicle(s)” to come. All told, parent Daimler plans to spend nearly $25 billion on batteries and the plants to build them over the next decade, and that doesn’t even factor in the billions more spent on product development.

The automaker has confirmed it will offer an extensive range of new, battery-electric vehicles, including the EQB and EQC models that are anchoring the low end, as well as the EQV van also making its debut in production trim at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

A special version of the EQC crossover, dubbed the Edition 1886, will be the first to reach U.S. showrooms next year, getting a jump on the planned Tesla Model Y utility vehicle. While Mercedes officials haven’t offered complete details, they’ve hinted that the brand will have a broader line-up of all-electric models than the up-start California carmaker.

Mercedes, of course, isn’t the only automaker offering Frankfurt show-goers a look at its new electric cars and concepts. Rival Volkswagen AG also offered plenty of new models to look at, including the production version of its little ID.3. Dubbed by the automaker an “electric car for the masses,” it’s the company’s first long-range BEV and will start as low as 30,000 euros. That would be about US$33,000, though there are no immediate plans to bring the ID.3 to the States, VW opting for an upcoming electric crossover that will be built at its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly line.

Volkswagen’s Audi and Porsche brands also displayed battery cars and concepts, and even its Lamborghini brand weighed in with the Sian, its most powerful product ever, thanks to a mild hybrid drivetrain.

Other familiar brands displaying electrified wares include BMW and Hyundai, though one of the products commanding a lot of attention is the Byton M-Byte, the production version of the Chinese electric crossover first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show last January. It will also take aim at the Tesla Model Y when it debuts in China next year, with a U.S. launch scheduled for 2021.

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