After more than a century of perfecting the internal combustion engine, Mercedes-Benz is preparing to move on. Daimler plans to invest more than $46 billion between 2022 and 2030 to develop electric vehicles and become an all-electric brand in markets ready for the switch. Mercedes will launch its first battery-electric model in the U.S. this fall, the EQS sedan. It will be followed by two electric crossovers and a midsize sedan next year.
"We think that this is the decade where the transformation needs to happen, and we think that the path toward electrification will pick up speed," Källenius said. "That's where we're putting our capital, but also our engineering resources."
The EQS, a zero-emission version of Mercedes' flagship S-Class, blends performance with luxury.
Built on a new EV platform, the EQS is powered by a 107.8-kilowatt-hour battery that delivers up to 350 miles of EPA-estimated range. It can be charged with up to 200 kilowatts at fast charging stations with direct current — recovering up to 186 miles of range in 15 minutes.
The EQS offers the luxury accouterments of a top-of-the-line Mercedes, including doors that automatically open and close and seats that massage a driver's shoulders as the vehicle sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
Equipped with up to 350 sensors, the EQS pulses with smart tech. The cockpit is anchored by a 56-inch curved high-resolution Hyperscreen that stretches the width of the cabin and stitches together three screens — a 17.7-inch center display flanked by a pair of 12.3-inch screens.
Källenius described the "insane Hyperscreen" as a "piece of art, but also a gateway to a digital world."
The EQS is aimed squarely at the kind of tech-oriented consumer that Tesla has leveraged into a market-leading position.
Tesla's "tech-savvy, progressive customer" is similar to Mercedes' S-Class customer in demographics, said Bernhard Glaser, director of product management at Mercedes-Benz USA.
"We hear a lot of stories of Tesla S buyers who love the car but maybe are not so happy with the fit and finish and interior quality," Glaser said. "They are looking at the EQS because [it] delivers a full luxury package in the electric S-Class segment now."