German luxury vehicle brand Mercedes-Benz just showed off an electric van that’s among the models which will broaden its battery-powered range over the next year.
The electric iteration of the Mercedes T-Class, dubbed EQT, will accommodate as many as seven passengers and launch in 2022, the company informed. It will join the Citan commercial van due to be introduced later this year, a version of which will be battery-electric.
“The EQT will appeal to families and all those private customers, whatever their age, who enjoy leisure activities and need a lot of space and maximum variability without forgoing comfort and style,” Marcus Breitschwerdt, Mercedes’ van chief, said in a statement.
The world’s best-selling luxury-car maker plans to build eight fully-electric vehicles on three continents next year to take on US-based electric vehicle maker Tesla and keep rivals including BMW AG at bay. The EQT will compete with vehicles such as the electric descendant of Volkswagen AG’s hippie-era Microbus that’s slated to hit showrooms in 2023.
The EQT design concept features 21-inch light-alloy wheels and sliding doors on both sides to allow access to the third row of seats. An electric longboard stored in a compartment fitted with a plexiglass lid will appeal to fans of gadgets and outdoor activities.
Mercedes’ van operations must brace for increased investor scrutiny after the company completes a planned spinoff of its heavy-truck operations later this year. The division has been prone to big earnings swings in recent years and will remain part of the main Mercedes car operation, which focuses on luxury vehicles that generate strong returns.
The van division’s efforts to share development costs through joint vehicle projects with France-based Renault and Japan’s Nissan Motor have largely flopped. Mercedes halted the X-Class pickup that was based on the Nissan Navara due to poor sales, and customers mocked the mediocre quality of the small Citan van that shared components with Renault.