Mercedes to build Tesla-rivaling EV
Daimler will invest 500 million euros (NZ$846 million) in France, to start producing a small electric Mercedes-Benz, the first of more than 10 electric vehicles (EVs) it plans by 2022 to go up against U.S. rival Tesla and its Model 3.
"The Smart plant in Hambach will become a part of our global compact car production network with the lead plant in Rastatt, Germany," Mercedes-Benz production chief Markus Schaefer said in a statement on Friday.
Mercedes is adapting its vehicle underpinnings so that it can mass produce electric variants on the same production line as equivalent volume models with gasoline, hybrid or diesel engines, allowing the German carmaker to scale up production quickly if demand spikes, a spokesman for Daimler said.
Mercedes currently makes its compact A-class, B-class and GLA models at plants in Rastatt, Germany, Kecskemét, Hungary, Beijing and in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and made 620,000 compact vehicles last year.
By contrast, U.S. rival electric car manufacturer Tesla delivered 101,312 vehicles all told last year.
In September, Mercedes-Benz presented "Concept EQA," an EV with a range of around 250 miles, which can be recharged without having to be plugged in.
“With the Mercedes-Benz Concept EQA, our electric initiative is gathering pace: by 2022 Mercedes-Benz Cars will have more than ten all-electric vehicles on the market,” stated Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
The annual production capacity of the Hambach plant, where Daimler produces electric and combustion-engined variants of its two-seater Smart vehicles, was more than 80,000 cars last year.
Mercedes is already gearing up to produce a fully electric sports utility vehicle, the EQC, in Bremen in 2019. It shares its production underpinnings with the GLC, the best selling sports utility vehicle currently sold by Mercedes-Benz.
Last year Mercedes sold more than 805,000 sports utility vehicles, with sales boosted mainly by the GLC and GLA models.