Mercedes-Benz will launch its most ambitious electric model to date – the EQS flagship sedan; and it’s planning an AMG version that will challenge the performance-car establishment. Its dual-motor drivetrain makes more than 600hp and forms the basis of a series of newer and hotter zero-emissions models.
The S-class-sized limousine is the first EQ model to be based on the German manufacturer’s scalable electric vehicle architecture (EVA). Mercedes says that this skateboard-style structure will allow the EQS to offer unparalleled levels of accommodation and luxury in the electric car ranks, thanks to its flat floor and clever battery packaging.
Mercedes is planning to offer the standard EQS with a limited number of drivetrains, the most powerful of which is a dual-motor setup. This is expected to match the output of the earlier concept at 476hp and 760Nm of torque in the EQS 550 4Matic. It won’t be the most potent EQS variant, however.
Our sister publication, Autocar UK, has learned that Mercedes’ AMG performance car division is set to enter the volume-production electric-car ranks with an even more powerful model. According to one high-ranking Mercedes engineer, it will have reserves to equal those of the existing S63 4Matic, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine.
This suggests that the range-topping AMG EQS, which is expected to be unveiled in 2022, will get well in excess of 600hp and 900Nm of torque from a dual-motor setup similar to that used by the most potent of its standard siblings.
By way of comparison, the most powerful version of the Model S today, the P100D, develops 795hp and 1,140Nm of torque.
Nothing is official at this stage, but AMG is said to have signed off on a modular electric drivetrain strategy which is similar to the one in place in its more conventional combustion-engine models.
The likely scenario, according to a source, is that upcoming AMG versions of the EQS – the smaller EQE sedan and the eventual electric G-class off-roader (expected to be dubbed the EQG) – will all share the same high-performance driveline, mirroring the way today’s 63-badged AMG models use a common combustion engine. It is not yet known if the more compact models, such as the EQA and EQB, will benefit similarly.
According to one official with knowledge of Mercedes’ ‘Electric First’ plans, the AMG drivetrain has been developed in part to head off the imminent challenge of Tesla’s ‘Plaid’ drivetrain. The California-based electric carmaker’s tri-motor setup is shrouded in secrecy, but it’s already rumoured to develop up to 811hp and in excess of 1,355Nm of torque.
As showcased on the concept, the AMG version of the EQS will send its reserves to the road via a new and advanced four-wheel-drive system capable of varying the amount of power and torque delivered to each individual wheel.
The new model will have even more potent acceleration than the standard EQS, which Mercedes already claims has the potential to go from 0-100kph in 4.2sec. Unlike the current EQC, which is limited to 180kph, it is also likely to have a top speed raised to 250kph, in line with its performance-car positioning.
Energy for the EQS’ motors is provided by a 100kWh lithium-ion battery. This is housed within the flat floor and is expected to offer a range of up to 692km on the WLTP test cycle; although sources close to Mercedes suggest the real-world figure will be closer to 515km. Like the Taycan, it will support 350kW rapid-charging – a development that Schäfer hints will enable the battery to charge to 80 percent of its capacity in 20min.
Also included will be a newly developed energy recuperation system. Drawing on developments already used by Mercedes-AMG in Formula 1, it is claimed to provide levels of kinetic energy (harvesting under braking) far beyond those of existing road-car systems.
The EQS spearheads an ‘Electric First’ strategy that Mercedes research and development boss Markus Schäfer says will result in up to 50 percent of the firm’s sales coming from both electric and hybrid models by 2030, up from a projected 9 percent, this year.
The EQS, known internally under the codename V297, will be Mercedes’ fifth dedicated EQ model. It follows the EQC, an SUV that has been on sale since last summer; the EQV, a van-based people carrier that’s due on sale in the coming weeks; and the EQA and EQB compact SUVs. It’s the eighth electric model to wear the EQ badge; the Smart EQ Fortwo, EQ Fortwo Cabrio and EQ Forfour also officially belong to the sub-brand.
The flagship EQ model will be distinguished from existing high-end Mercedes cars by its unique short-bonnet proportions and monolithic body devoid of any feature lines. It will be sold alongside the more traditional seventh-generation S-class, which is set to be revealed towards the end of the year.
Key among the EQS’ exterior styling elements is a black-panel grille. Set to be offered as an option, this will feature the three-pointed star, similar to that showcased on the Vision EQS, that gives the new models what Mercedes’ designers describe as “an all-new face”. It is to be bookended by triangular headlights featuring optional digital light technology.
Dimensionally, the production-spec EQS mirrors the existing third-generation CLS in length. However, the compact packaging of its electric driveline and flat floor are said to provide it with interior space that betters that of the larger S-class.
Previewed by the Vision EQS concept that first shown at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, the EQS is planned to take on the next-generation Jaguar XJ, which is also at an advanced stage of development and due to reach showrooms next year. Other rivals include the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Taycan, as well as a number of new luxury cars currently being developed by electric-vehicle start-up companies, including the Lucid Air and Xpeng P7.
Closer to home, Mercedes has confirmed that it will be launching the EQC SUV in India as the first model under its EQ sub-brand in 2020. Expect prices for the Mercedes EQC in our market to be in the Rs 1.5 crore region (ex-showroom).