Mercedes-Benz is looking to its least expensive electric vehicle, the EQA, to help slow the Tesla juggernaut. The baby crossover, which goes on sale in Europe this spring, will start at €47,541($57,562) in Germany, before incentives.
The EQA is being considered for the U.S., Mercedes-Benz USA sales chief Adam Chamberlain told Automotive News last week. "There's an opportunity for the [crossover] in the U.S.," he said. "If a brand is serious about taking a hold in the market ... then you need both top-end cars and something on the more affordable end."
The EV, based on the gasoline-powered GLA, will have a driving range of 265 miles under the WLTP test standard. The EQA 250 is rated at 140 kilowatts, or 190 hp, and accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 8.9 seconds. Variants with all-wheel drive, higher output and longer ranges will follow.
As an entry-level electric crossover, the EQA would have limited appeal in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board member Jeff Aiosa said. "The better-selling sport-utility is the bigger one, not the smaller one," said Aiosa, owner of Mercedes-Benz of New London in Connecticut. "That's what this market wants."
The GLA and GLB combined accounted for more than 25 percent of Mercedes' U.S. light-truck sales last year.
A larger crossover also is likely to deliver better range than an entry-level model, a requirement in the U.S. where charging infrastructure lags and range anxiety is a concern for EV buyers.
The subcompact EQA, however, would offer an affordable entry to the Mercedes EQ line of vehicles. "It's an opportunity for people to transition from combustion engine to electric power at a lower price point," Aiosa said.
GLA underpinnings were used to reduce upfront investments and save time compared with building the EV from scratch.
The EQA is expected to go up against Tesla's Model Y crossover. But the EQA is smaller, less capable and would potentially be more expensive in the U.S. than the Model Y, said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions.
The EQA joins Mercedes' other EVs — the EQC midsize crossover and the EQV minivan.
The EQ subbrand is the cornerstone of Mercedes' campaign to embrace electrification to meet stringent emissions targets, primarily in Europe and China. In the U.S., Mercedes will launch the subbrand with a battery-powered version of its flagship S-Class sedan in the fall. The U.S. launch of the EQC has been delayed.
Christiaan Hetzner contributed to this report.