Mercedes-Benz is planning its own distinct line of electric vehicles, challenging BMW and Tesla Motors Inc. in a bet that alternative-fuel cars have the potential to become profitable.
Mercedes will add two electric sport utility vehicles and two sedans, according to two people familiar with the plan, who asked not to be named because the details haven’t been disclosed. Mercedes will create a new sub-brand for the cars, though a name hasn’t been chosen yet, one of the people said. Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in June that the company planned to unveil an electric car at the Paris motor show in September.
Mercedes-Benz plans to become a strong rival to Tesla Motors and BMW, in an attempt to prove that green cars have the potential to become profitable.
Two insiders from the company, who requested to stay anonymous, reported that Mercedes has plans to roll out an entirely new line of EV vehicles, featuring two sedans and two electric sport utility vehicles.
The carmaker has not decided on the name of its sub-brand of EV cars, according to the sources.
Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz's parent company, Daimler, stated earlier this year that his company will showcase an electric car in September, at the Paris Motor Show.
The push toward EV autos comes in the wake of the tremendous success of the Model S sedan, built by Tesla. Germany's luxury-market leaders feel pressured to demonstrate that their engineers can craft electric innovations at par with those from their American counterparts. The fact that the global consensus shows low-pollution vehicles are the only way to build cars in the future is another motivational factor for Mercedes' plans.
However, the home market of Mercedes shied away from purchasing a large number of EV cars because of extensive charging times, rather short driving range and comparatively high prices of the autos.
The car manufacturer had several attempts to pack electric motors and batteries to its existing designs, which is a more cost-effective approach than what BMW did with its entirely new line of "i" EV cars.
The two companies recently switched their strategies, as BMW says its next "i" model will roll out five years from now.
According to one insider from Mercedes, the company will begin selling its electric lineup before 2020.
Mercedes might feel optimistic about the future of EV sales, at least by looking at how rival BMW is faring. According to BMW, its latest i3 model pushed its number of eco-friendly sales up by 87 percent in the first half of 2016.
Mercedes confirmed its plans to Engadget.
"We are working on a large EV with a range between 400 and 500km (250-310 miles) based on a completely new architecture," said Mercedes.
To make matters even more interesting, rumors surfaced that electric variants of Smart city-cars are also in tow.
On the other end of the car size spectrum, Daimler's helm of trucks, Wolfgang Bernhard, notes that he is confident that a window of opportunity is opening "to earn money in e-mobility." The company is gunning after in-city deliveries with its recent Urban eTruck prototype. Insiders from the company also hint that semi-automated, electric city buses are a promising part of Mercedes' future plans.
Mercedes’ previous efforts to establish clean-driving cars had mixed results. A fuel-cell version of the B-Class sold few vehicles because of a patchy refueling network and high costs. Otherwise, the brand restricted itself to electric versions of existing models such as Smart and the boxy B-Class, which had a 155-kilometer range.
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