Mercedes-Benz believes its conversative approach with the EQC is the key to long-term electric vehicle success.
The German brand unveiled its first mass-production EV this week in Sweden with the EQC, but instead of being a bespoke EV architecture and design it uses a modified version of the platform that underpins the existing GLC. That means the EQC can be built in the same factory as the GLC but also means the designers were restricted in the way they could shape this new model.
Speaking to Drive at the reveal this week, lead exterior designer Robert Lesnik explained why the EQC has such a conventional look, which includes a large grille even though the electric motor doesn’t need a conventional air intake. The EQC concept featured a digital screen instead of a grille but that has been replaced by a simplier LED light strip across the front of the car and a three-pointed star badge that lights up to give it a visual point of difference.
Lesnik said the brand wanted to set the tone to appeal to a broad audience, so deliberately steered away from designing a radically different looking EV that could split opinions.
“Everything that is not known, what people don’t know you never know - it might work, it might not,” Lesnik said.
“So we are starting with, let’s say, known proportions. Ten or 15 years ago sedans were best-selling cars now these [SUVs] are the best selling types of cars. So if you want a strong car with a higher front, even if there is no [combustion] engine behind, as a designer you would not want to go lower on an SUV… But you would not want to do an SUV with an extremely low, weak front-end because this is unusual. You can do, but this is more a test because you never know what kind of result you’ll get from the customers. Very often new things are polarising.”
But he stressed this is just the start of Mercedes’ journey into EVs, with another nine EQ models due to arrive by the end of 2022 including a likely EQA, EQS and potentially an AMG sports car.
“This is the beginning,” he said.
“The beginning of a bigger story that we are just starting to write - EQ. We are committed by 2022 to have many different type of [electric] cars, all sizes bigger and smaller and higher and whatever, so we believe this is the best start.”
However, he also admitted the production needs of the EQC, being built alongside the GLC, also played a major factor in determining the design of new machine.
“It’s very important the car production-wise is 100 per cent integrated in the plant in Bremen [Germany], the GLC plant, and there will also [be production] in China at the GLC plant,” he said.
“We believe that’s fine, it’s still very attractive and sporty. The problem would be if we didn’t think it would be attractive. Sure, with different class, lower, sportier cars we’ll see different architectures.”
When asked if future EQ models would be more adventurous, Lesnik replied “Yes, definitely”, indicating other EQ models could use a different and unique electric platform and look more striking than the EQC.