Mercedes EQC SUV: If "the Best or Nothing" Means a Paltry 200 Mile Range, We’d Rather Have "Nothing" From Mercedes
Photos and Schematics Courtesy Daimler AG
A few months ago instead of enhancing or advancing their BEV plans, Mercedes Benz went through the unusual step of cancelling its entire PHEV hybrid line of cars, all of them, and replaced them all with the same PHEV models, this time with longer electrical ranges by adding improved batteries. You would figure that’s a good thing to do, you improve plug-in hybrid batteries. What you and Mercedes forget actually, is that all MB did was kick the transition can further down the road. Mercedes’ engines are hybridized with gasoline motors, that PHEV batteries don’t need to be stronger on PHEVs, they need to be stronger on BEVs. And by improving PHEV batteries, that was wasted resource on old obsolete outdated transition technology that could have improved BEV batteries. Mercedes used this newer technology on an outdated application that the hybrid is, mindful that the PHEV was supposed to be a transition vehicle a decade ago.
And you can tell that the same way Mercedes kicked the can down the road with their hybrids, they did the same exact thing here with their BEV, going to their media department to split hairs between “around” or “up to.” So instead of using development resources for newer technology used for all battery electric vehicles, Daimler saw fit to use it on ancient hybrid technology. Well the PHEV is still here as Mercedes brought it right back after killing it first, then immediately resurrecting to steroid it. What good does that do for the BEV’s?
So it came as a surprise to the auto news media at the presentation in Stockholm this week, when Mercedes took the unusual step of unveiling its historic separate line of EV cars known as EQ, with the flagship crossover BEV car that’s known as EQC. And you would figure whatever recent improvements made to hybrid technology would somehow help these new line of BEV cars. That’s the logical progression of thought, no? Apparently not. Here’s the thing: the spec sheet on the EQC car that’s still a whole year away from production, strangely says it only has 200 miles of range. That’s 200 miles of range in a flagship segment of performance luxury electric vehicles assembled by a German car manufacturer. This range is less than a Chevy Bolt, and from the company whose motto is, “the best or nothing:”
- In a now crowded competitive field EV makers are trying to upend each other.
- Now in production, Audi rolls out its first full-on BEV CUV in a few weeks.
- With Mercedes one year away and BMW with two more years until production, they both need to let customers know more choices are coming with theirs.
- Daimler unveils this week with more than a year away from production its BEV.
- The EVs are a separate line called, EQ, and the flagship car, a crossover, is a BEV called EQC400 4MATIC
- All based on the one E-Mobility modular flex platform for the entire line.
- Dual motor, 402 hp (300 kW), 564 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 4.9 secs, top speed 112 mph.
- Driving Modes: Comfort, Eco, Max Range, Sport, and Individual.
- One pedal driving with regen braking.
- The issue is the spec sheet: EQC range is “around” or “up to” 200 miles.
- This range has become woefully insufficient in this segment.
- Jaguar i-Pace and Tesla Model X ranges both beat Mercedes still in pre-production.
- Mercedes tries to blur the range by using different measuring standards with wording like “around” or “up to” 200 miles, NEDC v. EPA standards.
- Whether purposely or inadvertently, Mercedes is caught with its range short handed, their technology lacking, and they need to be called out and answer.
On my journey as a transportation and auto reporter covering electric vehicles, one of the things I’ve learned is that the level of technological development has become so intense and too fast paced. It has developed to such a level that walking through a door, you can immediately tell who is prepared and who is not with their technology, who is using it correctly, who is not. Some companies have strong suits to see what their strengths and weaknesses are. Some companies, and recent events at Uber this year remind me of this, have no business having the technology in their possession at all:
Update: Mercedes-Benz now tells me the 200-mile range figure (which was cited at least 4 times in press materials sent out in advance of the announcement) for its first all-electric car was wrong. https://t.co/LjchkVV0r3 pic.twitter.com/o3VZSXM59e
— Sean O'Kane (@sokane1) September 4, 2018
The fact that Mercedes had to fudge their range number using NEDC standards, and play word games like “around” or “up to,” like Nissan did with the UK Nissan Leaf Fail Safe Supercharging Crisis last spring, is telling that Mercedes knew about this problem for a while, they tried somehow to solve it, and when they realized they couldn’t before the unveil, and short of spending hundreds of millions more, they waited for this to become a media event to deal with it then. I find it ironic that a subcompact BEV that created the gold standard of the 238 mile BEV range has now become the butt of the embarrassment that a flagship BEV Mercedes SUV couldn’t beat. If only the Mercedes could get a strap-on so it could make up for the 40 miles it can’t reach, let alone the additional 100 miles its engineers were boasting last year it can easily surpass, throw in an additional 10 miles for good measure, that it actually way can’t, because it can’t get it up to go that far. Tesla Model X 75D flies in at 237 miles of range, the Jaguar I-Pace checks in at 240 miles, and 2019 Hyundai Kona EV or our gold standard Chevy Bolt is now our honoree like Lincoln, the new standard by which all luxury cars are judged.
Mojo isn’t the issue. It's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean. I-Pace has a 90 kWh battery pack, EQC an 80 kWh pack, and Tesla Model X 75D is has a 75 kWh pack. If these cars are heavy they’re not using charge as efficiently. A bigger pack may not help.
Lithium ion battery technology is already outdated, ask James Dyson. It’s all about solid state batteries, who has them, how they make them, how do they get it into the devices they need it for, and how quickly. This is why lithium ion tech is now cheap, everyone in every industry uses it, that it makes things that otherwise would be impractically expensive, like battery electric cars. With all this said, a range of 200 miles is woefully insufficient for vehicles in this segment, and for a vehicle in this class to have such a range without a reasonable exemption or explanation makes that vehicle non-competitive, frankly unacceptable.
What Went Wrong?
If I had to guess what went wrong, it probably was that they didn’t give themselves enough time as opposed to not having enough time. Look at Porsche to see how long it took them to develop Taycan, and they were working on the technology before the actual car debuted in Frankfurt in 2015. If that’s Porsche, then somewhere, Daimler dropped the ball, or they just made this wagon too damn heavy that the mojo is all going to the weight, not to the performance. Something happened here at Daimler that needs to be investigated as to why a full sized SUV CUV variant, until what I assume will be the flagship electric vehicle until presumably the full sized saloon variant is launched, has an obvious glaring, embarrassingly insufficient electric charging range, especially when promised 310, and those responsible need to be held accountable. The only redeeming and actually saving quality to this deficiency is this happened during the pre-production process, ask Tesla about that. They can fix this, correctly if they really want to, now that they’ve been sufficiently embarrassed by it and for it.
Other Minor Issues
Another issue that disturbs me about the car but less so, is that it doesn’t have a frunk, and how much does this affects handling. They actually used the traditional front engine bay bonnet area for one of the power plants and/or perhaps also for battery storage. I could have had a tuner shop convert my GLS 550 wagon to electric if that was the case. What’s the point? Why couldn’t they use the platform floor to their advantage for power plant and energy storage, and does this mean that the car’s handling issues aren’t the same when an electric vehicle has everything in the tray on the floor? People are really expecting to have a frunk, and with a larger get up, there’s really no excuse not to, especially from Mercedes, this should be a no brainer. In the Mercedes fashion this should be a selling point for the car, to put their high tech crumple safety zone cage in the frunk, my groceries too, especially if the way rear set is being deployed by the kids in the back. C’mon Mercedes get your crap out of my frunk, please, I’d like my frunk back!
What I Like
Ok enough EQ bashing because overall I like this car. I wish car makers would take it easy with overdoing the styling on electric vehicles, Prius is the worse example of how you make ugly things uglier, and it’s so unnecessary. I know under all that horrible sheet metal and expensive to replace rear lighting when your Prius gets wrapped in the back, that Prius truly is a beautiful car inside and out sans the plastics. It’s okay to give an electric car a tasteful not overdone grille even if it doesn’t need one, that I understand actually they do, to cool things down like in some ways gas cars do. Rolls Royce isn’t going to ditch theirs after the complete conversion later in the century, you know that! I also understand that plastic use plays an important role in the tech and weight reduction, but that doesn’t mean it has to be seen everywhere, or even at all! Mercedes seems to strike a balance here according to the pictures. I just wish Mercedes just toned down the electric blue thing that some of these car makers like to do up their electrics in. Tone it down please! Otherwise, Mercedes followed the Tesla-like styling thing of minimalist less is more done Euro style, and it works. Mindful, that some of that is about the car eventually becoming Level 4 driverless sometime shortly down the road.
EQC400 gets my endorsement to be the flagship of the EQ line until further notice. For now. They need to fix these issues, starting with the range if they really expect her to become the SUV Electric Queen of the Roads. The Jaguar i-Pace and Tesla Model X, both BEV crossovers currently on sale, both beat Mercedes, and by at least 35 miles more with their ranges, all before Mercedes makes it to production next year. Daimler aims to have up to 10 electrified car variants by 2022, a target reiterated on Tuesday by Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche, who hopes the EQC and its other electric cars will account for 15-25 percent of its sales by 2025. Let’s hope the next cars have better ranges and they move their power plant stuff elsewhere so there’s more frunk storage. These cars won’t be used everyday for long distance driving, but that’s what they were supposedly made for, and customers have the right to know how long they’ll go before a needed fast recharge. Case closed.
The wagon goes on sale later next year. And we’ll all be better for it.
What do you think is going on here? Let us know below.