FOCUS ON: MERCEDES-BENZ
Mercedes-Benz is taking a broad approach to reducing emissions. It has beaten rivals to the punch in bringing RDE2-compliant diesels to market, and has no intention of killing off the internal combustion engine. A range of plug-in hybrids is available, with more on the way, and the EQ family of electric vehicles is set to expand.
Parent company Daimler describes its approach as a ‘three-lane drive system strategy’.
✪ STAR CAR ✪
WHAT IS IT?
A big SUV, and the first of the electric ‘EQ’ family.
As the EQC is a pure battery-electric vehicle, there are no emissions.
WHAT’S IT POWERED BY?
Twin electric motors with an output of 408hp. The EQC can go from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds.
HOW FAR WILL IT GO ON A TANK?Tested to the WLTP standard, the Mercedes-Benz EQC achieves 232-259 miles. That falls short of the 258 to 292-mile range of the Jaguar I-Pace. Topping up the batteries from 10% to 80% using a 110kW rapid charger takes 40 minutes – if you can find one. Using a three-phase 400V home charger, the battery can go from 10% to 100% charged in 11 hours.
IS IT TAX EFFICIENT? Oh, yes, especially when April’s tax changes kick in. Right now, anyone running a Mercedes-Benz EQC as a company car pays BIK on 16% of the list price. For the 2020-21 tax year that drops to 0%. In 2021-22 the banding is 1%. So the case for an EV as a company car is about to become compelling.
“We are placing our emphasis on highly efficient high-tech combustion engines, systematic hybridisation and battery-electric or fuel-cell drive systems,” says Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG, and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Our approach is broad in view of our extensive portfolio and our customers’ mobility requirements.”
Mercedes-Benz was among the first to pass the RDE2 test with its diesel engines, and so avoid the 4% diesel surcharge for Benefit-in-Kind taxation. The company plans to continue to develop cleaner and more efficient petrol and diesel engines.
“I’m sure that the combustion engines will still be around for a long time to come,” says Källenius. “In the year 2025 we are looking at a sales share of up to 25% for the purely battery-electric cars. This automatically means that at least 75% will still have a combustion engine on board – also combined with electric, naturally.”
Källenius and his colleagues still see a place for diesel, and believe oil-burning engines can be made more efficient. “We still need the diesel powerplant and in future we shall continue to advance its further development.”
A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO HYBRIDS
That faith in diesel power is reflected in the way Mercedes-Benz approaches plug-in hybrids. Whereas other makes combine petrol and electric power, Mercedes-Benz produces diesel-electric hybrids as well.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE 350de 4Matic plug-in hybrid was launched towards the end of last year. As the ‘D’ in the model name suggests, the GLE combines a four-cylinder diesel with an electric power output of 100kW. Its CO2 emissions figure is just 29g/km, and it has an electric range of 56-61 miles (WLTP). That puts the car in the 8% BIK bracket for 2020/21, while every other GLE is in the 37% band.
Expect more plug-in hybrids from Mercedes-Benz under the ‘EQ Power’ label. The range of battery electric ‘EQ’ models will also expand. The EQV large MPV (pictured below right) goes on sale in late April, with a range of up to 252 miles.
The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS concept (main picture, top of page), revealed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, portrays what Mercedes-Benz describes as “sustainable luxury”. A production version should be on sale as soon as next year, with a game-changing range of up to 435 miles.
By 2022, Daimler has pledged to bring 10 all-electric vehicles to market, and around 50 ‘electrified’ models as well.