Daimler looks to dislodge Tesla’s leadership with flagship electric car

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
  • Follow author on
Daimler EQS Image
Representational Image

The German multinational automotive company Daimler has just revealed the electric “sibling” of its flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan, to take on market-leader US-based Tesla amid growing demand for electric vehicles (EV).

The EQS is the first in a family of Mercedes-Benz cars built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform built from the ground up. It will go on sale in Europe and the United States in August, then in China in January.

“We set the bar very high with this car. Customers in this segment expect a blend of hi-tech innovation and modern luxury and that’s what we’re trying to achieve with the EQS,” Daimler Chief Executive Ola Källenius said.

Daimler has not revealed pricing yet for the EQS, saying that will come in the summer closer to the launch date.

Taking on Tesla

Mr. Källenius avoided making any comparisons with Tesla, whose market cap of more than $700 billion dwarfs all other carmakers, during the launch event.

But with a range of up to 770 kilometers (478 miles) and a new display screen that will cover almost the entire dashboard (an optional feature), analysts see an effort to take on Tesla, which had a head start over other carmakers and boasted a longer battery range and hallmark touchscreen infotainment system.

Experts referred to the EQS as “Mercedes’ Tesla fighter” and said the car “will likely set the benchmark in terms of technical features, as well as design and quality,” for both traditional carmakers and newer entrants like Tesla.

Display Screen

Mr. Källenius said he expects more than 50 percent of customers will pay extra to get the display screen, which Mercedes-Benz unveiled in January.

At 56 inches (142 cm) the new “Hyperscreen,” which in width dwarfs Tesla’s vaunted 17-inch screen, will also feature in Mercedes-Benz’s other new electric models.

Mr. Källenius said the company would not provide forecasts for how many EQS models it aims to sell, or what sort of profit margins he expected the vehicle to generate. But he said he had high expectations for the Chinese market, where there is “tremendous demand” for the traditional combustion engine S-Class model.

Daimler now joins German-rival Volkswagen with a dedicated electric platform while BMW will launch a dedicated platform in 2025.

Growing EV demand

The sales chief of Mercedes Britta Seeger said the launch of the EQS coincides with demand for electric vehicles that is growing faster than company executives once forecast.

“We thought by 2030 that half of our sales will be electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles,” Ms. Seeger said during a conference call. “What we currently see is a stronger request of customers for EVs. We are even more positive that this jump can be a little bit faster.”

Related: Saudi Arabia’s FII-I invests in electric-flight startup Lilium