Mercedes Expects to Raise the Electric Bar With Flagship Sedan

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Mercedes-Benz is about to unveil a new flagship model it expects to boast market-leading battery range, following through on its pledge to compete in the luxury electric-vehicle segment with top technology.

The April 15 debut of the EQS — the first Mercedes built on dedicated electric-car underpinnings — will mark a milestone for the German brand that’s been criticized for taking too long to embrace EVs. Next year, Mercedes will be making eight fully electric cars on three continents, Chief Operating Officer Markus Schaefer said in a phone interview.

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“We boosted flexibility of all factories worldwide so that we can produce hybrids, fully electric cars and combustion vehicles everywhere, depending on customer demand and individual market developments,” Schaefer said. “It took a while for us to prepare all this, but now it’s time to deliver.”

The more than 700 kilometers (435 miles) of range Mercedes expects the EQS to achieve in lab testing is another indication Germany’s carmakers will have something to say about Tesla Inc.’s early domination of the EV space. Volkswagen AG last week announced plans to become the new global sales leader no later than 2025, while BMW AG forecast battery-car sales will account for roughly half of deliveries by the end of the decade.

Mercedes is in the midst of a fundamental overhaul that will include a painful restructuring of combustion-engine sites that the manufacturer depended on for a century. The revamp has culminated in parent Daimler AG’s plan to spin off its truck operation this year, the most significant strategic move since the company sold off Chrysler.

“The pace of the industry’s transformation is keeping us busy of course, but what’s really key for us now is that we deliver the physical proof points of our strategy in our factories and with our products,” Schaefer said. The company will flank the compact EQA and EQB with the larger EQS and EQE this year, and make SUV versions of the latter two models at its U.S. factory in Alabama.

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