The Australian arm of Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that it will offer a selection of the brand’s EQ electric vehicle range locally, despite a lick of incentives and infrastructure support from the Australian government.
Mercedes-Benz' parent company, Daimler, first announced plans for a range of EQ-branded electric models in 2016, and is currently on track for a 2019 production debut before growing into a fully-realised four-model range including the compact EQ A, medium SUV EQ C, larger EQ E SUV, and flagship EQ S.
David McCarthy, senior manager of product and corporate communications for Mercedes-Benz Australia, said the company will look at adding several of the all-electric models to local showrooms by 2019, but admitted the entire range may not make it here.
“We’re committed to them internationally and nationally,” McCarthy said. “There might be a couple of models that don’t fit for Australia. Australia’s fleet mix is very different to other parts of the world, but we will bring the vehicles that fit our market and that customers want to buy.”
In preparation, Mercedes-Benz has increased its involvement in electric vehicle planning within Australia including promoting investment in infrastructure such as charging stations.
“We recently joined the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia, because we think that is a good way to advance the cause,” McCarthy said. “At the end of the day the government has got to play a role here. They’re talking about reducing emissions and what they want to do… There needs to be more charging stations, the EV Council is looking at that. The FCAI is part of that discussion too.”
“The government needs to work out what they want to do about this because, really, they’ve done nothing.”
Even without any form of support from local government bodies through EV incentives, Mercedes will bring its EQ models, although Mr McCarthy admitted that incentives for buyers to move to EVs would help the efforts towards reducing emissions in Australia.
“If the government is serious about lowering emissions, part of that is the electricity that powers these cars needs to be sustainable and renewable,” he said. “That’s the reality. What you’ve then got beyond that is everywhere else in the world there is some form of incentive. Now I know we’re an island, but no man is an island even unto himself. So there has to be [something].”
Along with the addition of EVs to the national fleet, McCarthy also called for the government to mandate higher quality fuels in a bid to help lower emissions from internal combustion engines.
“We want lower emissions,” he said. ”The public wants lower emissions. The technology is there, with better fuel, to bring those lower emissions without huge penalties in fuel consumption. The government needs to actually start acting on this. If they don’t we’re not going to get [lower emissions].”
“Part of that has got to be electric vehicles. People want electric vehicles but there needs to be an incentive and it can’t just be carried by the manufacturer.”