Last year, Mercedes-Benz committed to a Tuscaloosa treat in the form of a billion-dollar upgrade to its existing Deep South facility. Details have surfaced on how that cheddar will be spent, including the construction of a new battery factory for the companyâ€™s future EV endeavors.
Mercedes has been entrenched into Alabama for about 20 years now, making SUVs and crossovers that are both sold here and exported to other markets. With this investment in electrification, thereâ€™s every chance theyâ€™ll be in the area for another two decades.
Recently, weâ€™ve learned the Three-Pointed Star will brand its all-electric fleet with an “EQ” prefix, starting with the EQC crossover shown a month ago. Long(ish)-term plans for the company call for an electrified version of everything it sells by the time the calendar flips into the year 2022.
Slated to be constructed within a few miles of the companyâ€™s existing plant (which currently builds SUVs like the fancy-pants GLE and its “coupe” brother), the new facility should create close to 600 jobs. Some of that billion-dollar investment will also be plowed into existing production facilities in Alabama, with the company stating the need to modernize the place so all-electric SUVs can be built on the same lines as conventional and hybrid SUVs.
America wonâ€™t be the only home for Mercedes battery production, however. Plans call for an octet of EV-focused facilities on three different continents, including ones in Bangkok and Beijing.
Top brass at Mercedes-Benz describe this investment in America as part of an â€œelectric offensive.â€� Not long ago, top-flight customers looking for an SUV powered solely by electrons were essentially limited to the Tesla Model X. Now, models like the Jag I-Pace and Mercâ€™s EQC are competing for those same dollars. That those more traditional companies are not hamstrung by production distractions or a CEO with a Twitter habit will surely help their cause.
The EQC 400 4Matic, which made its debut in September, will make 402 horses and 564 lb-ft of torque from a pair of asynchronous motors and an 80 kWh li-ion battery. Range should be over 200 miles. It will likely be the first in a line of EQ-branded machines of varying shapes and sizes as all-electric propulsion snakes its way across the Mercedes lineup. Expect to see EQS, EQA, and others in Benz showrooms within the next few years.
It would be a mistake for armchair automotive critics to say that a company like Mercedes is recession-proof or immune to rising fuel prices, even with its well-heeled clientele. Investing heavily in EV architecture is a smart play and, while investments such as these may not realize instant gains, they do help prepare for a future when EVs â€“ thanks to either environmental necessity or government regulation â€“ become the lionâ€™s share of automotive production.
[Images: Daimler AG]