Motoring Weekly has written about the plans that Mercedes-Benz has to go electric with their EQ Series of vehicles. They have stated that they would like to get to 25% sales of their fleet being from the EQ range by 2025. They have also said that they want their EQ vehicles to look different from other Mercedes-Benz models which seems to be a strange idea. What is wrong with having a family semblance in a product range?
That last idea isn’t really working for them, at such an early stage of the strategy with the first models simply taking the traditional design language and this latest concept vehicle looking remarkably like any other Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle!
The Concept EQV looks rather like a current V Class commercial van/minibus. It utilises an electric motor to power the front axle with a rating of about 200hp and is fed by a 100kWh battery that can be fast charged in 15 minutes to provide a 60 mile (100 km) range. Overall though, the vehicle will have a 250 mile (400 km) range using a full charge and can reach speeds of 100mph (160 kmh).
The concept shows what can happen for commercial vehicles that are powered by batteries – the floor is lower and flatter and the electric motor is smaller and lighter than a traditional van. This is because the batteries can be spread across the floorpan as thin units and the electric motor has far less moving equipment and ancillaries taking up space.
We think that this segment of the market will move first – logistics companies will want to try and reduce costs by buying them over petrol or diesel models, they will want to be seen to be “green” in the current political environment and they want to show that they are forward thinking. All admirable traits today, however it will be really interesting to see if these vehicles really are as cost effective as many suggest. I wonder how many companies will consider the recycling or disposal of the worn out batteries and the associated cost of doing that.
The Mercedes-Benz marketing team have been up late in the evenings thinking up comments about this vehicle: they call it the world’s first premium segment multi-purpose vehicle, a leisure-time adventurer, a family companion or a shuttle. This is the best line though: “The EQ brand boasts an impressively avant-garde and independent set of aesthetics.” This vehicle apparently also has an “elegantly technoid cockpit”! The plain message is that it is simply an electric powered van that can be configured for various uses – and looks like any other van on the road!
It is an important step forward for the Mercedes-Benz group though, because it shows that they are able to hedge their bets with a range of propulsion systems and that reduces the risk by not putting all their eggs in one basket. No one really knows which way the market will go – it is dependent on a number of factors, not least of which is what politicians will do to decide on how they will influence the market. As alluded to earlier, the market might find that there is a huge issue with the disposal or recycling of many components that are in the electric propulsion systems and this causes the current range of activists to switch sides and the long-term costs become unviable.
In the meantime, we will see more of these vehicles reaching the commercial markets and being used for everyday tasks.
Images owned by Mercedes-Benz.