Mercedes-Benz is expected to debut an electric SUV concept at the 2016 Paris Motor Show this fall.
The concept will likely preview one of what could be up to four all-electric models Mercedes plans to launch over the next few years.
This lineup of electric cars will help Mercedes compete with Tesla Motors, as well as German rivals that are now scrambling to produce luxury electric cars of their own.
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As the vehicle that will likely set the direction for the rest of Mercedes’ new electric-car lineup, that makes the SUV concept a very important vehicle indeed.
When it debuts in Paris in late September, the electric SUV concept will feature new styling that will carry over to other electric models, according to Britain’s Autocar magazine.
What will be underneath that styling is less clear.
[UPDATE: Mercedes issued a short teaser video for the car, which we’ve inserted up top. Not a whole lot of detail, but clearly this will be an important unveiling for the German luxury maker.]
Previous reports suggested that the first of the four production Mercedes electric cars would be a variant of the GLC-Class crossover.
Known as the “ELC,” it would share a platform with internal-combustion GLC models, but with markedly different styling.
It it would have a flat battery pack under the floor, at least two motors (one per axle), and up to 400 kilowatts (540 horsepower) of output, according to a recent report by German magazine Autobild.
MORE: Mercedes-Benz GLC to offer world’s first plug-in fuel-cell powertrain
The GLC platform was engineered from the start to accommodate plug-in hybrid and battery-electric powertrains, as well as the plug-in hydrogen fuel cell powertrain of the upcoming GLC F-Cell model.
Yet earlier this month Mercedes also unveiled a dedicated platform for electric cars, which it calls a “multi-model vehicle architecture.”
That’s because the platform is modular, and could underpin a variety of vehicles.
Its layout is similar to the one used by Tesla, with a flat battery pack in the floor, and an electric motor at one or both axles.
Mercedes may also use the Paris Motor Show concept to preview future battery technology.
At the same time as its announcement of the modular electric-car platform, Mercedes promised that future batteries would deliver twice the range of today’s lithium-ion cells, at half the cost.
This may involve switching to a different battery chemistry, possibly lithium-sulfur.
Flat lithium-ion battery back for next-generation Mercedes-Benz electric cars
That would help Mercedes achieve the target 500-kilometer (310-mile) range for the electric SUV mentioned by outgoing R&D chief Thomas Weber to Reuters at a recent media event in Germany.
Batteries for a production version of the SUV concept—and other future Mercedes electric models—would likely be manufactured by subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive.
The production SUV is expected to appear by the end of 2018 or sometime in 2019.
Meanwhile, the concept will share the stage at the 2016 Paris Motor Show with an updated Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, based on the third-generation Fortwo introduced in the U.S. last year.
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