Mercedes’ Alabama plant gets battery-powered SUVs

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The GLS, Mercedes’ largest utility model in the U.S. market, also is a profit generator for the brand. The GLE was the second-bestselling Mercedes model in the first nine months of the year.

While Tesla dominates the electric vehicle market today, Mercedes will have to contend with a wave of competition from traditional rivals, such as BMW, Audi and Porsche.

The new electric Mercedes models serve dual goals, said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions.

“Mercedes hopes the EQE and EQS utilities will take a significant bite out of the electric vehicle and luxury vehicle markets simultaneously,” Fiorani said. “The models offer luxury buyers the choice of size and price while giving Mercedes a chance to profit on EVs where others have lost money.”

Getting the EQ subbrand to market is the cornerstone of Mercedes’ campaign to embrace electrification to meet stringent emissions targets, primarily in Europe and China. Plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles should account for more than half of Mercedes’ sales by 2030.

The first EQ model scheduled for the U.S. market is the battery-powered version of Mercedes’ large sedan, the S-Class. The electric version of the sedan, to be built in Sindelfingen, Germany, will arrive in U.S. dealerships next summer.

Mercedes planned to launch the EQ subbrand in the U.S. with the EQC compact crossover this year, but that has been delayed. Mercedes declined to say when the EQC is scheduled to arrive stateside.

Last week, Mercedes also offered production timelines for other EQ models:

  • The EQA crossover will be built in Beijing next year. Production of the SUV is underway in Rastatt, Germany.
  • The EQB crossover will start production in Kecskemet, Hungary, and Beijing next year.
  • The EQE sedan will be produced in Bremen, Germany, in 2021 and in Beijing soon thereafter.

Mercedes also is bringing electrification to its commercial-vehicle lineup. This month, the automaker confirmed it will bring the next generation of its eSprinter van to the U.S. It will be built on a new EV platform and be offered in two wheelbase sizes and with three battery options.

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