MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific says buyer interest in its first battery-electric vehicle (BEV), the EQC mid-size SUV, is high enough that any new order placed for the EQC400 launch variant will likely not be fulfilled until 2020.
This news comes after hundreds of buyers already expressed their interest in purchasing the model that is expected to be in short supply as production slowly ramps up. First deliveries of the EQC400 are due in October.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at an EQC customer preview event in Melbourne, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific head of media relations and public relations Jerry Stamoulis said most of the interest was coming from existing owners.
He added that these potential buyers, most which are older than expected, have probably owned several Mercedes-Benz vehicles over time, with previous purchases ranging from A-Class hatches to GLC SUVs, AMG C63 sedans and S-Class limousines.
Even more surprising is that potential buyers are prepared to place orders without knowing the EQC400’s pricing and specification, which are likely to be announced at its international media launch in May. It is expected to cost less than $150,000 plus on-road costs.
Mr Stamoulis said some of these potential buyers have been keen on BEVs but were waiting for Mercedes-Benz to release its own model due to brand loyalty, and when that does occur later this year, the momentum behind zero-emissions driving will grow even stronger.
In a first for Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, EQC buyers will be able to officially purchase their vehicles online, although the impact of the model’s introduction on the company’s dealer network is yet to be determined (see separate story).
Registrations to purchase are already open on a dedicated website, which is where buyers initially expressed their interest. They are required to nominate a preferred dealership to take delivery from as part of the online process.
In order to further spark buyer interest, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific brought two of the 455 EQC400 prototypes currently in existence Down Under to coincide with the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
One example, number eight, was revealed to potential buyers at an invite-only event at the Mercedes Me brand experience store in Melbourne, before remaining on display, this time to the public, for two days.
The unit then shifted to the exclusive Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge at the Albert Park circuit for the duration of the motorsport event, giving hundreds of potential buyers the chance to view it over the course of the week.
Meanwhile, another example, number 450, spent one day with about 100 potential buyers at a private track facility in Port Melbourne and a second day with select media, including GoAuto, at the same venue.
In both instances, attendees were given a brief drive in the passenger seat as Daimler AG head of testing for the EQC program Karl Scheible took the wheel to talk through the engineering process for the model.
Potential buyers may soon be spoilt for choice, with Mr Scheible saying the EQC400 will be the most potent version of the EQC “for the moment” but several entry-level variants are being considered.
“EQC400 is a little bit similar to an eight-cylinder,” he said. “There’s a reason why it’s the EQC400.
“We’re thinking about EQC300, EQC350, but not EQC500. That’s definitely not. Maybe we have an entry type, like EQC300, but it’s not (guaranteed).”
The EQC400’s dual-motor set-up produces 300kW of power and 765Nm of torque, while its 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides more than 400km of driving range on the recently introduced WLTP standard.
Either way, expect Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system to remain standard on any additional EQC variants, with Mr Scheible saying he was not sure if a rear-wheel-drive version with a single electric motor would eventuate.
“We talk about all options … but we just have four-wheel drive (for now). It’s efficient and you can make (it) dynamic,” he said.
“You don’t use both engines (all the time). Normal-use case with this car is to have just power on the front axle… if you cruise or are in traffic. But if you overtake or want acceleration … you need four-wheel drive.”
The German brand plans to launch seven EQ-branded models by 2022, with the EQA small hatch and EQV people-mover, which have already been previewed in concept form, likely the next two to join the line-up.
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