Rumor: Mercedes-Benz Planning Its Own Electric-Car Program To Tackle Tesla

Earlier this year, German luxury automaker Mercedes Benz and Japanese automaker Toyota both sold their respective shares in Californian electric automaker Tesla Motors, causing some news outlets to proclaim that electric cars — and Tesla in particular — had no future.

Is Mercedes-Benz planning a car to compete directly against the Tesla Model X (above)?

Is Mercedes-Benz planning a car to compete directly against the Tesla Model X (above)?

But while Toyota has spent its time since it divested in Tesla ramping up the anti electric-car rhetoric and trying to set itself up as the world-leader in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Mercedes-Benz’s divestment in Tesla seems to have been a prelude to the launch of an all-new $2 billion Mercedes-Benz program called Ecoluxe. What’s more, the fruits of the Ecoluxe program are expected to include a lineup of plug-in vehicles which would give Tesla’s all-electric Model S and Model X a tough time.

The claim comes from Automobile (via AutoBlogGreen), whose recent six-page writeup on How Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche Plan to Shock Tesla details Mercedes-Benz’s new investment in in-house plug-in vehicle programs.

According to the publication, Mercedes-Benz’s EcoLuxe program aims to produce four different electric cars across two different class sizes, resulting in a line of vehicles which it says will ‘eclipse both the Tesla Model S and Model X Crossover.’

The first of these is rumored to be large, long-wheelbase crossover SUV similar in size to the current Mercedes-Benz GL. Intended to be offered in five or seven-seat configurations, Mercedes-Benz is rumored to be targeting a $125,000 price tag when built to high-end specification.

Mercedes-Benz's all-electric B-Class was built with help from Tesla, but the German automaker is rumored to be going it alone for future models.

Mercedes-Benz’s all-electric B-Class was built with help from Tesla, but the German automaker is rumored to be going it alone for future models.

Like the Model S and many other purpose-built electric cars on the market, the all-electric crossover SUV will store its battery pack under the vehicle floor. Unlike the Model S and Model X — both of which have an unbelievably thin battery pack, Mercedes-Benz is supposedly looking at raising the seating position of the SUV by nearly three inches compared to Mercedes-Benz’s existing SUV models, while offering ground clearance similar to that found in an S-Class sedan.

In other words, while Mercedes-Benz is looking to build a competitor to the Model X, complete with all-wheel drive and perhaps even rear-wheel steering, the car — known internally as the Sport Utility Coupe — won’t be an off-roader.

A year or so after the launch of this planned vehicle, Automobile says Mercedes-Benz will launch a sport-utility sedan based on a stretched E-Class chassis with two conventional rows of seats and an optional third-row rear-facing seat akin to the optional two child-seats found in the Tesla Model S. At more than sixteen feet in length however, the stretched E-Class wouldn’t be exactly city-friendly, although it would have both front and rear luggage space.

Finishing up the quartet of plug ins would be two more conventional all-electric cars: a sedan and smaller crossover. While Automobile has little to offer about these two models, it’s likely that they would follow some time after the two larger, halo plug-ins.

Is Mercedes-Benz looking to plug more models in and offer an all-electric range? Maybe.

Is Mercedes-Benz looking to plug more models in and offer an all-electric range? Maybe.

In terms of range and performance, Automobile claims a range of power and battery options would be offered, ranging from 545 horsepower to more than 600 horsepower, putting Mercedes-Benz’s higher-end models well within Tesla territory. With the inclusion of a larger battery pack, range could even beat that of existing Teslas, shooting as high as 350 miles per charge.

But while we’d love to report that this particular project from Mercedes-Benz is a foregone conclusion, we must be careful to note that at the moment, Automobile’s claims have yet to be confirmed by officials at the German automaker in question. Moreover, in the same article, Automobile makes some claims about Porsche’s plans for all-electric models which were later denied by Porsche.

What can we say? As our friends at Autoblog comment, Mercedes-Benz has been spied lately with some unusual-looking prototype cars, and we know that despite selling Tesla Stock, the German automaker is finally starting to push plug-in models as an attempt to meet increasingly tough emissions targets and give it a competitive edge against rival company BMW.

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