Mercedes changes electrification course

Mercedes-Benz is apparently putting the brakes on investment with a change of course. According to a media report, it is no longer developing its electric platform ‘MB.EA-Large’. From 2028, the Stuttgarters actually wanted to electrify the new generation of their largest saloons and SUVs based on this architecture.

The German newspaper Handelsblatt cites four insiders saying that the development of the ‘MB.EA-Large’ has been put on hold. The reason for this is the disappointing sales figures for current luxury electric cars, which are forcing Mercedes to make “tough cuts”, according to the report. The investment volume for the platform’s development is said to be at least €5 billion or more.

When asked by the website Electrive, a spokesperson for the company said in more general terms that Mercedes-Benz is utilizing “sustainable efficiencies between new and existing model series” for the further development of its product portfolio and that market conditions and customer wishes determine the pace of transformation.

“We will build the perfect Mercedes for every customer requirement. We can offer vehicles with both fully electric drive systems flexibly and electrified high-tech combustion engines well into the 2030s.” To this end, production has been set up with drive flexibility. This no longer sounds like the ‘electric only’ strategy previously pursued stringently.

Three pure electric platforms

In mid-2021, the Group management announced that Mercedes-Benz would be debuting three new all-electric platforms from 2025. The Stuttgart-based company announced the MB.EA as the platform that will cover all medium-sized and large passenger cars above the MMA (for the CLA, as well as the next generation of the EQA and EQB) and “form the electric basis of the future BEV portfolio as a scalable modular system”.

The AMG.EA, an “electric platform designed for peak performance”, has been announced for the performance models. Based on the new VAN.EA, electric vans, and light commercial vehicles will also be launched. It was said that all other new platforms should subsequently also be purely electric.

Medium and Large

The car manufacturer had two different versions in mind for the MB.EA platform: The MB.EA-Medium for the C-Class, and GLC and the MB.EA-Large for large electric vehicles such as the S-Class, GLS, E-Class, and GLE.

The latter is now the subject of the report in Handelsblatt. It is to fall victim to the need to economize. Instead, the production process for future large luxury models will be partly based on the existing EVA2 architecture.

EVA2 is the 400-volt platform on which the EQE and EQS series are based, both the saloons and the corresponding SUV models (including the Maybach offshoot of the EQS SUV). According to earlier rumors, the EVA2 could switch to 800 volts of system voltage. However, this has not been confirmed yet.

Strategic reorientation

According to Handelsblatt, the suspected development stop of the MB.EA-Large platform is part of a larger strategic reorientation at Mercedes-Benz. The background to this is said to be a misjudgment by Group CEO Ola Källenius, according to which sales of e-cars should increase more quickly.

Mercedes wanted to sell only electric cars by the decade’s end, with the restriction “wherever market conditions allow.” Plug-in hybrids were also to be discontinued. The interim target of 50:50% electric cars and ICE vehicles in 2025 still includes plug-in hybrids in the electric share.

As this cannot be maintained, the life cycles of important combustion engine model series will now have to be extended, and money will be spent on model upgrades.  “In the coming years, Mercedes faces the expensive and extremely complex task of keeping its portfolio of combustion engines and electric cars up to date,” it says in Handelsblatt. Mercedes is now thus following the course of its competitor BMW, which has never embarked on an “electric only” strategy.

At the Annual General Meeting last Wednesday, Ola Källenius said: “In the coming years, there will be both. Electric cars and ultra-modern, electrified combustion engines. If the demand is there, well into the 2030s.” Strategically, Mercedes focuses on zero emissions and will be CO2-neutral by 2039. “That is certain,” says the Group boss. “But the transformation could take longer than expected.”

The 50:50 interim target between electrified cars and ICE vehicles mentioned above seems to be postponed to 2030 when Mercedes-Benz originally wanted to go fully electric.


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