Mercedes previews first of ‘EQ’ electric cars with SUV concept

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Mercedes-Benz’s much-hyped electric car concept has finally made its 2016 Paris auto show debut.

Like Volkswagen’s own I.D. concept on display in Paris, the star of Mercedes’ stand previews the first of the automaker’s next-generation electric cars.

The concept is called the Generation EQ, and as previously reported the “EQ” in the name is the badging that Mercedes will use to denote its future electric cars. It apparently stands for “Electric Intelligence.” Individual models are expected to be called EQC or EQS, with the last letter denoting the car’s positioning in the Mercedes model hierarchy.

Mercedes, of course, is not new to the electric game. It was an early investor of Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA] and has been offering electric cars for several years, though these have been niche products limited to a handful of markets. The list includes the Electric Drive versions of the Smart ForTwo, B-Class and SLS AMG.

Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept, 2016 Paris auto show

Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept, 2016 Paris auto show

With Tesla taking electric cars mainstream, every automaker worth its salt is racing to offer rival products. The production version of the Generation EQ will be launched before the end of the decade to take on not only the Tesla Model X but also Audi’s planned Q6 e-tron. (We're hearing in 2018 or 2019.) It will then be followed by a handful of electric Mercedes models, all based on a modular “skateboard” platform where the batteries are stored in the floor and an electric motor is mounted at one or both axles. Mercedes previewed the platform at a tech briefing in June.

In the Generation EQ, there are two electric motors delivering a combined output of approximately 400 horsepower. They form a “through-the-road” all-wheel-drive system and should offer brisk performance, especially thanks to the more than 516 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes quotes a 0-60 mph time of less than 5.0 seconds.

Powering those motors is a lithium-ion battery sourced from Deutsche Accumotive, a battery company owned by Mercedes’ parent company Daimler. Deutsche Accumotive already has a battery factory up and running and is extending this in preparation for Mercedes’ next-generation electric cars. Mercedes says the production version of the Generation EQ will have more than 70 kilowatt-hours and range of at least 300 miles on a single charge.

Charging can be done via a high-speed “wallbox” installed in the garage or using wireless inductive charging. The latter will debut on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S550e plug-in hybrid. Currently, charging capacities from 50 to 150 kilowatts are possible. In the medium to long term, a charging capacity of even up to 300 kw is planned. (Known as Combined Charging System, or CCS for short.) With the latter, you could add around 60 miles of range in 5 minutes.

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