2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC driving

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its new electric-focused EQ sub-brand and showcased its first model, the EQC SUV, at an event in Stockholm in September, 2018 and showcased the EQC this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The EQC is the latest European luxury-branded electric vehicle set to challenge Tesla’s hold on the upscale, battery-powered market.  

Upcoming European Electric Vehicles

Audi E-Tron SUV: Now accepting deposits. Deliveries start spring 2019.
BMW iX3 SUV: An upcoming electric version of the X3.
Jaguar I-Pace SUV: On sale now.
Polestar 1: The first production model from Volvo's electric-car brand.
Porsche Taycan sedan: Expected to be available in 2020.

At the Stockholm event, Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, made numerous references to the luxury car’s Scandinavian-like design.

Indeed, the EQC has very clean, simple lines. Its exterior is toned down from the crisp creases seen in the latest Mercedes models. And the face is decidedly different, with a large, black-panel front end—a look that will distinguish the EQ models from their gasoline-powered siblings. The EQC measures 4 inches longer than the GLC SUV and shares the width and wheelbase.

The EQC uses a motor at each axle, enabling all-wheel drive. The front powertrain is configured for efficiency, while the rear motor-transmission combination is designed to add sportiness. Output is a prodigious 402 hp and 564 lb.-ft. of torque.

The company estimates a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.9 seconds—the same as Tesla’s base-level Model X SUV. Mercedes estimates the battery range to be over 250 miles.

The EQC uses an 80-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack (made up of 384 battery cells) with a 7.4-kilowatt onboard charger that lends itself to relatively quick charging. Mercedes claims DC fast charging in public places can bring the battery to 80 percent charged in 40 minutes when the battery is very low. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC cutaway

The EQC has an intelligent assist function that combines travel data from your route, speed limits, and distance from vehicles ahead. The system can train the driver to bolster efficiency by maximizing coasting. For example, when in the economy-focused driving mode, the accelerator pedal will vibrate when the driver can coast, as is the case with Mercedes’ existing plug-in hybrids.

“As we’ve seen with other European companies, such as Audi, Jaguar, and Porsche, Mercedes wasn’t going to sit idly by and see its customers flock to Tesla,” says Gabe Shenhar, associate director, Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. “Tesla gave them a wake-up call, and the Europeans heard it loud and clear: Hey, it’s not enough to just talk about EVs, but actually making them is what counts, so that became a strategic business decision.”

Voice controls in the EQC can be activated by saying, “Hey, Mercedes.” Once you have the car’s attention, it will respond to natural language commands, Mercedes says. It also will listen to conversation and react, when appropriate, the automaker says. In explaining this feature, Mercedes uses the example of a driver saying, “I feel cold” and the SUV reacting by raising the cabin temperature. Mercedes says the learning software behind the voice controls can pick up new words and adapt to a variety of voices.  

The navigation system can plot routes with energy efficiency and the location of recharge stations in mind. It also can be programmed and customized for a trip from within the vehicle or remotely via an app.

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC interior

As with other Mercedes models, the EQC will offer a broad roster of advanced safety and driver-assist systems. It adapts the latest-generation features from the automaker, including those found on the flagship S-Class sedan. The base version will include automatic emergency braking, with the ability to detect, warn, and react to a possible collision with a car, cyclist, or pedestrian, Mercedes says.

The EQC will be equipped with a blind-spot warning system to watch for approaching cars and bikes when the vehicle is stopped. If it detects something approaching, it will issue a warning before a door can be opened.

The SUV also will watch for rear-end collisions and prepare the passengers for impact, if necessary. In the event of a collision, the EQC can disconnect the high-voltage system for safety, choosing between a reversible action for minor collisions and an irreversible disconnect following a major accident, Mercedes says. Emergency crews also can deactivate the system manually under the hood and from the driver’s-side fuse box. First responders can scan a QR code, found on a door pillar and within the charging flap, for technical information.

The Mercedes-Benz EQC will be produced alongside the GLC starting in 2019, and it is expected to be sold in the U.S. as a 2020 model. Mercedes projects its global sales to be 15 to 25 percent pure electric by 2025. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC rear