Mercedes will showcase EQ more outwardly to consumers this year and next in advance of the EQC crossover going on sale in 2019.
"In the early stage, you need to make people drive this car," Seeger said. "As long as somebody has not driven the car, he is not appreciating what the car is offering."
Mercedes is working with dealers globally to set up test-drive events. So far, the events are with plug-in hybrid models and sibling brand Smart's electric vehicle. Dealers in Europe have been asked to keep one or two hybrid models on hand for test-drive experiences, Seeger said.
In the U.S., Mercedes is working with dealers to set up parameters for EQ, said Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
"It's a new frontier to look at electric and to just treat it special," Exler said.
One option is setting aside a portion of the showroom for EQ — similar to the way some dealerships have separate performance centers for the AMG business. As with AMG, an EQ center wouldn't fit for every store, Exler said, and the EQ vehicles still need to be tied closely to the core Mercedes-Benz brand. But dealerships in markets where EV sales are strong will surely be asked to highlight EQ a little more. Charging stations must be installed at all dealerships.
"We're not talking about huge investments," Exler said. "This is not anything drastic, but we all want to be ready for the first Mercedes coming out with electric drive."
With rapid product proliferation in the Mercedes lineup in recent years, grouping the new electric offerings under the EQ subbrand should help simplify the EV rollout, said Greg Barnes, president of Bill Ussery Motors Group in Coral Gables, Fla., which operates two South Florida Mercedes stores.
"It's in the news a lot that electrification is coming, and we're getting more client interest in it," said Barnes, who also is chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board for 2018. "We need to get ready to answer those questions."