Words by Gugu Masuku

The advent of the electric vehicle (EV) hasn’t been noticed by most, myself included, but it's real and happening, and there is no stopping this revolution. Take the Mercedes-Benz EQC for instance, I imagined it would be at least another five years before we saw this model taking the giant leap from concept to reality. But would you believe me if I told you that I’ve already met one in cold hard metal here in SA? I also had the privilege of experiencing it on our roads.

EQ is Mercedes-Benz’s electric vehicle division and the EQC is set to be the first EV to sneak out from under the covers of this division; it is also set to come seated comfortably on the C-Class platform. The best way to identify which platform any of Daimler's current models is utilising is to look at the last letter of the model name. With this model donning the C, it tells us where it borrows its structural core from, thus giving us an idea of the vehicle size. The EQC400 is roughly the size of the C-Class; this applies to other models such as the GLS, GLA and GLE — don’t worry, the name changes had the best of us confused as well.

So now that we’re officially on the same page, we can make the reasonable assumption that in future we may see the likes of EQE, EQS etc. 

 

 

The EQC hasn’t actually made an official debut anywhere in the world, but local motoring media were privileged enough to have an opportunity to experience the model during its three year R&D phase. The South African climate is one of the environments EQC has to endure and conquer during this period, where a few of these lab rat vehicles are put through their paces in different climates across the globe to iron out any kinks before being finally brought into production. As we speak, the EQC400 is in its final leg of this rigorous process, which means we’re as close as one can get to the final product.

 

First Impressions
On the design front, we have ourselves a futuristic looking vehicle in the EQC, almost a replica of what we’ve seen in press images — a pleasant surprise since what we usually see on paper never quite matches the same image when seen in 3D. Interestingly, Merc’s first EV will also be available with the option of an AMG kit, although, for this model, it’s very subtle and goes well with the futuristic design. The interior makes use of Mercedes-Benz’s current tech and layout; the dual screens, which are also found in the new A-Class and other models, and the new touchpad reside inside the EQC — the only difference is that the main screen responds to touch as well as to limited gesture.

 

 

Quiet as a mouse
On the road, EVs have a reputation for being mute breeds with nothing to say either than offering a faint whine under hard acceleration. EQC’s engineers from Stuttgart have gone one step further and made this vehicle completely silent, no matter how much you prod it with a stick. The lithium-ion battery beneath the vehicle will give drivers a decent range of 400km, with a charging time of 10hrs off the installed wall box, and a lengthy 20hrs when connected directly to a home plug point. Both of these scenarios are with the assumption that the battery is completely empty, which is not advisable for the preservation of the cell's life — a daily top-up will do just fine.

 

Due Date
The engineers working on the EQC are working steadfastly to bring this project to its completion. During a conversation with one of the German engineers, Wolfgand, he revealed that the EV should go into production in the latter half of this year and predictions are that our part of the world will only see the first official units during the first quarter of 2020.

 

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