Mercedes-Benz will bring at least five electric vehicles to South Africa in 2022 after the EQC was delayed due to the pandemic. Its EV range under the EQ branding will include the EQA SUV; a family-sized SUV EQB; a mid-sized EQC, based on the GLC platform; the electric business sedan EQE; and the luxury sedan EQS.

Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 with home wall-charger.

About three years ago I got to experience the EQC in SA while it was here for testing. We could only sit inside the vehicle and got driven around but earlier this week the 20th of January 2022, I finally got to drive it, albeit briefly, as part of a “soft launch” in Sandton, Johannesburg.

It’s important to note that it was more of a preview, the vehicle has not been officially launched in SA, as we don’t have pricing yet. Pricing for the EQC will be announced end of Feb 2022.

Mercedes will collaborate with GridCars for its public charging strategy, and all EVs sold will come with a complimentary EQ wall charger, installed at a location of choice.

Mercedes-Benz SA’s Co-CEO Mark Raine says its EQ brand will be a success in South Africa because there is no country reacting (to his knowledge) where a larger portion of its customers has either gone off the grid or is considering and looking at doing so in the near future.

Mark Raine, Co-CEO Mercedes-Benz SA

“South Africans are generally pragmatic in their approach and their openness to adapt and change. The speed in this market in terms of change is incredible.” But also looking at financial factors like appreciating fuel price, which drive up the cost of ownership for an internal combustion engine, says Raine.

Its electric and digitisation strategy is key pillar for the company, which includes its speciality brands such as AMG, Maybach and EQ.

Customers will able to access Mercedes’ EQ products at 36 locations nationwide, which includes sales, after sales and access to technical experts when required. All EQ models will come with an 8 year warranty on the battery.

My first impressions

Driving a Mercedes has always been slightly different, with the gear stalk next to the steering wheel; and that hasn’t changed on its EVs. The now familiar new normal remains starting up in silence. I know I’ve driven many EVs before, but after adjusting and getting comfy to drive off, I still switched the car off and on, almost like a reflex.

Spoiler alert: I love driving EVs and this the same level of excitement and enjoyment. I drove very briefly in Sandton around a few blocks, getting to test the different modes. The paddle shifts are used to change the level of regenerative braking (D–, D-, D, and D+) on any of the driving modes from Individual, Comfort, Eco and Sport.

The digital instrument cluster looked a bit overwhelming but I didn’t get a chance to play around with the settings and took a bit longer than normal to make sure I knew where the modes I’m on are displayed and to check any relevant info (to me when I’m driving).

The infotainment system uses MBUX, as I first experienced on the A-Class but likewise with the above, needed more time. I briefly got to check out the EQ mode that shows charging options, consumption, energy flow (all visualised in graphs) and vehicle info. You can see how it pulls energy in real time, front of back, based on how you’re driving. I love having access this kind of info to understand how things work. Alas, didn’t get to use voice control this time to tell Mercedes I’m feeling cold (it would then adjust the climate control).

Sandton traffic in the middle of the week was what you’d expect. I couldn’t really test the limits – if you know what I mean – but hopefully at a proper launch event I can see how it all works.

A quick look at the different models:

EQA: all-electric dynamic sports SUV – The EQA is a dynamic, all-electric sport SUV. A close relation of the GLA, it delivers all the characteristics of that vehicle, combined with an efficient electric powertrain. The EQA 250 derivative will be available for the South African market, with a power output of 140KW, a range of up to 412km (WLTP) and a combined electrical consumption of 17.7kWh/100km.

The EQB: all-electric family size SUV – The new EQB is an iconic electric SUV which incorporates the square forms of Mercedes-Benz off-roaders and projects them into the future. Whether it’s for a large nuclear family (7-Seat option available) or a small extended family, the new EQB offers space for many family configurations and a wide variety of transport needs. This gives it an exceptional position among compact electric cars. This all-electric compact SUV will be available in the form of the EQB 350 4MATIC derivative. This all-wheel drive model offers a power output of 215KW, a range of up to 419km and a combined electrical consumption of 17.4kWh/100km.

EQC: all-electric mid-sized SUV – The EQC was the first car to be produced by Mercedes-Benz in the line of the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz EQ family with a battery electric drivetrain. It marked the start of the transfer of Mercedes-Benz towards future electric mobility. This all-wheel drive model offers a power output of 300KW, a range of up to 437 km*(WLTP) and a combined electrical consumption of 21.3kWh/100km *(WLTP).

The EQE: all-electric business sedan – The new EQE offers all the essential functions of the range topping EQS in a slightly more compact format. The EQE’s interior dimensions even exceed those of today’s E-Class, carrying the concept of the business sedan into the future.

The EQS: all-electric luxury sedan – The first all-electric premium sedan from Mercedes-EQ, the EQS redefines the luxury vehicle segment. The innovative and holistic design is based on a new vehicle architecture which fuses technology, design, functionality and connectivity, delighting both drivers and passengers. With ranges up to 780 kilometres and an output of up to 385 kW. The first models to come onto the market are the 245kW EQS 450+, with combined electrical consumption of 18.9-16.2 kWh/100 km.

Stay tuned for official pricing.