Mercedes-Benz is set to unveil its much-anticipated electric SUV on Tuesday, marking the start of a German onslaught against Tesla’s dominance of the market for premium battery cars, Reuters reports.
The launch event for the Mercedes EQC will take place in Stockholm, the Swedish capital which boasts a good startup scene and green credentials,
The SUV is the first production model under Mercedes’ electric EQ sub-brand. It will be closely followed by similarly hyped debuts for BMW and Audi.
Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi and Porsche divisions are all aiming to take on California-based Tesla in the luxury electric vehicle business.
“While Tesla currently has a strong hold on the luxury electric market, I don’t think this will be the case after the arrival of the German premium offerings,” Wajih Hossenally, an automotive powertrain analyst with IHS Markit, told Reuters.
“Tesla has virtually zero competition – but this will change from 2019 onwards,” the analyst noted.
According to LMC Automotive, Tesla’s share of the electric-car market is expected to decline over the next decade, from today’s 12.3 percent to 2.8 percent, even as its absolute sales continue to rise.
The Germans’ combined market share will surpass Tesla’s to reach 11.8 percent in 2020 before increasing further to about 19 percent three years later, according to LMC projections.
The new Mercedes, due to reach its first customers next year, will compete in the same bracket as Tesla’s US$49,000 Model 3, helped by its hotter-selling SUV form.
Well aware that their earlier battery-car offerings have failed to get anything like Tesla’s level of public attention, the German brands are doggedly courting Silicon Valley-style buzz for the coming product blitz, Reuters noted.
Like Tesla, Mercedes is announcing EQC orders in Norway even before its price. It has amassed more than 2,000 refundable deposits of 20,000 crowns (US$2,400) in Europe’s biggest electric-car market, where Tesla sold 8,500 vehicles last year.
Audi on Monday began production of its e-Tron SUV ahead of a Sept. 17 sales launch jamboree in San Francisco. It also plans to begin taking reservations backed by refundable US$1,000 deposits.
BMW, meanwhile, has hired a Lufthansa cargo jet to fly its electric Vision iNext – still just a concept car – from Munich to Beijing via New York and San Francisco. Events are planned in all four cities over five days.
In another Tesla-inspired move, the three German carmakers are developing their own network of fast-chargers along major highways in a partnership with Ford, the report noted.
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