Trevor Collett | May 25, 2016

The buzz surrounding a ramped-up attack on the electric vehicle market from German carmaker Mercedes-Benz gathered steam this week, with reports Benz is looking at four new EVs by 2020.

The UK’s Autocar reports that two of the quartet would be sedans based on the C-Class and S-Class, while the remainder would be SUVs (perhaps GLA- and GLC-Class).

Mercedes may be motivated by the progression of BMW’s i EV program, which has delivered the i3 and i8 models to date with a new i5 variant on the way.

To that end, Mercedes was also recently rumoured to be considering a sub-brand of its own to compete directly with BMW i.

Tesla is also said to be on the radar, supporting claims that C- and S-Class-based models will be first cabs off the rank to tackle Tesla’s Model 3 and Model S respectively.

Further motivation appears to have come from the German government, which has announced new sales incentives on EVs priced below €60,000 (AU$ 93,000) as part of a €1.2 billion (AU$1.9 billion) electric car funds package.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

Mercedes already has diesel-hybrid and plug-in hybrid models in its range, so the step to fully-electric models could merely be a formality for the carmaker. An in-house development program is said to be underway, producing electric motors with outputs ranging from 75 to 400kW suitable for both single- and dual-motor drivelines.

The new EVs would be familiar to Benz customers, as the carmaker is believed to be basing them heavily on existing models; rather than developing new models from a clean sheet.

Despite the borrowed architecture, company insiders have reportedly revealed that the EV models will carry unique styling cues and identification to ensure onlookers are aware that they are EVs.

Platforms for the new models could rise from Benz’s MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) base - reportedly dubbed ‘MEA’ (Modular Electric Architecture) by Mercedes workers.

A stronger presence in the EV market is unlikely to disrupt Mercedes’ plans to further its other ‘green’ models, including BlueTec hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell variants.

Mercedes is also working on new EV versions of its Smart city cars.

Image, top of page: 2015 Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury In Motion Concept

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