Update: ‘Production & Release Date’ section updated.
As Mercedes-Benz’s EQ range of electric vehicles continues to grow and expand into new segments, the German automaker still has not revealed a direct competitor for the BMW i4, Tesla Model 3, and the Polestar 2.
The Mercedes C-Class has been among the most popular models offered by the Stuttgart-headquartered brand. The model has existed for almost 30 years, having undergone five generations of upgrades and evolution. And now, for the first time, a Mercedes C-Class Electric is in the pipeline. Automotive News reported in October 2021 that Mercedes-Benz dealers in the U.S. have received a confirmation that an electric C-Class is headed to America, along with the next-generation GLC Electric, which would rival the Tesla Model Y.
Every Mercedes model to get an Electric option
Mercedes-Benz will fast-track its EV program to offer electric models in every segment. Mercedes-Benz Group CEO Ola Källenius, broke this news during the ‘Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update: electric drive’ on 22 July 2021.
By 2025, our customers will be able to choose an all-electric alternative for every model we make.Ola Källenius, CEO, Mercedes-Benz Group
Mercedes C-Class Electric branding
The electric equivalents of the E-Class and the S-Class have taken the EQE and EQS badges. With Mercedes already using the EQC on its GLC-equivalent electric SUV, it could rejig the nomenclature and term the next generation EQC as the EQC SUV, leaving the EQC nameplate for the Mercedes C-Class Electric.
Mercedes-Benz introduced its ‘One-bow’ design with the EQS in 2021. The term refers to the roofline of the sedan, which is reminiscent of the shape of an archer’s bow. The bow is underlined by the frameless doors and a high beltline. Moreover, the window surround is embellished in chrome, making the one-bow line the focal point of the sedan.
Steffen Kohl, Mercedes-Benz director of advanced exterior style, quoted during a media webinar in March 2021 that the EQS “carries the future of Mercedes-Benz,” as per The Detroit Bureau‘s report.
TopElectricSUV’s unofficial render (pictured above) was created to highlight the possible design direction of the upcoming C-Class Electric. The render blends the signature design elements of the EQS sedan and the Vision EQXX. The front is reminiscent of the EQS with its closed grille, full-width LED strip, and the sporty side air intakes on the bumper. The spoked wheels and the silhouette with the tapered rear are design elements borrowed from the Vision EQXX.
No digital mirrors
Mercedes-Benz showcased digital mirrors on the Vision EQS in 2019 but didn’t carry the feature into the production EQS and EQE models. It’s unlikely for the C-Class Electric to have this technology, and it would likely come with traditional mirrors that are optimized in the wind tunnel.
In an April 2021 interview with Automotive News Europe, Källenius explained that the electricity needed to power digital mirrors almost negates the aerodynamic benefits of the sleek camera panels. It can also result in motion sickness, and the brand would rather wait until the technology develops further before incorporating it into its EVs.
On May 19, 2022, Mercedes-Benz divided its models into three different categories: Entry Luxury, Core Luxury, and Top-End Luxury. The Mercedes C-Class, Mercedes GLC, Mercedes E-Class, and Mercedes GLE belong to the Core Luxury category, the company said.
On July 22, 2022, Mercedes-Benz published a new job ad (MER0001XVK) that revealed that the MB.EA platform will underpin the Mercedes C-Class Electric and also the Mercedes GLC Electric. This job ad revealed that there will be different versions of the MB.EA platform and that the version used for these mid-size models will be ‘MB.EA-M.’ It was for the post of project coordinator for the C-Class Electric project.
On July 27, 2022, during the Equity Roadshow Presentation for Q2 2022, Mercedes-Benz reaffirmed that the MB.EA platform will underpin the electric models of the Core Luxury category. The same day, it revealed the second version of the MB.EA platform in a new job ad (P0009V2596), MB.EA-L, which could underpin E-segment models.
Mercedes C-Class Electric Specifications
Mercedes-Benz may standardize the battery systems across its range, with cell chemistry and height being the only differentiating characteristics. The Mercedes C-Class Electric may benefit from this approach, similar to VW Group’s Unified Cell strategy. Mercedes-Benz engineers are improving energy density from 550 Wh/l to 900 Wh/l by using a silicon-carbon composite in the anode. The 550 Wh/l energy density currently allows a gross battery capacity of 111 kWh on the Mercedes EQS.
Mercedes-Benz has already confirmed it’s commercializing next-gen batteries with an energy density of 800 Wh/l at cell level in 2024. The company plans to offer these batteries optionally in the electric G-Class (Mercedes EQG) first. It will source these batteries from California-based Sila Nanotechnologies, which will manufacture them using 100% renewable energy in Washington. We don’t expect them in the C-Class Electric, at least not initially, but they signal the efficiency level the company is heading towards.
As an option, the C-Class EV could also come with LFP battery packs for lower pricing and a more stable supply. The benefits of LFP technology outweigh its downside of a shorter range compared to NMC technology in the case of lower-segment models. That’s the reason why Tesla uses it in the Model 3 today.
What’s more, the EQXX is claimed to have a drag coefficient of 0.18 Cd, two points less than the 0.20 Cd claimed for the EQS. Expect the Mercedes C-Class Electric to be highly aerodynamic, aided by its smaller frontal area.
800V Electrical Architecture
The U.S.spec Tesla Model 3 Long Range offers 358 miles of driving range, as certified by EPA. Mercedes-Benz would take a similar driving range target for the electric C-Class. Moreover, expect the C-Class EV to have RWD and AWD drivetrain configurations. The EV-only platform should also enable a system voltage of around 800 volts to ensure faster-charging speeds, high performance, and a reduction in weight and installation space for the wiring harness. Expect charging rates of 350 kW with 0-80% charging time of 20 minutes.
Mercedes says the 900-volt battery of the EQXX features ‘active cell balancing’ that discharges all cells equally for improved efficiency while cruising. The Move Electric report also states that the battery capacity of the EQXX is 50% the size of the EQS (107.8 kWh) and weighs 35% lighter at 495 kg. It is supplied by Chinese battery OEM CATL.
The Mercedes C-Class Electric could be among the first to employ eATS 2.0, Mercedes-Benz Group’s next-gen electric drive unit with a radial motor. Developed and manufactured in-house, eATS 2.0 uses 800-volt technology and Silicon Carbide (SiC) inverter.
Last year at our strategy update, we told you about eATS 2.0, an in-house developed and built motor that will be key to the forthcoming MMA architecture. eATS 2.0 will have an outstanding performance, as part of an 800-volt powertrain with a silicon carbide inverter. eATS 2.0 is a radial permanent magnet motor, designed for the majority of our key products.Markus Schafer, Board of Management Member responsible for Development & Procurement and Chief Technology Officer, Mercedes-Benz Group (Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update: electric drive 2021 on July 22, 2021)
The C-Class Electric may come with a solar roof, which we saw on the Vision EQXX. Schafer said that “customers will probably have the choice in the future to opt for solar roofs,” according to an Autoblog report. On the Vision EQXX, the solar roof takes the load off the battery by providing up to 16 miles of extra range. This technology would improve further by mid-decade to a point where more range can be added by harnessing the sun’s rays.
Multi-source heat pump
The C-Class Electric could feature a multi-source heat pump similar to the one previewed in the Mercedes Vision EQXX. This heat pump recovers waste heat from the drivetrain, plus it has an external heat exchanger (not included in older Mercedes-Benz heat pumps) that draws heat from the ambient air. The external heat exchanger increases the operating temperature range and helps heat up the cabin quickly. The new heat pump can make use of every last bit of heat.
The MBUX Hyperscreen, the biggest interior highlight of the Mercedes-Benz models, will likely be an optional feature in the C-Class EV. The EQE clubs a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, a 17.7-inch OLED touch-operated central display, and a 12.3-inch OLED touch-operated front passenger display.
The “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant will likely function better. It may come in an improved version that is even more capable of dialogue and learning and feels more human-like. It may even understand more languages than it does in the current C-Class, in which it supported voice commands in German, Chinese, American English, and British English initially.
Plug & Charge
The C-Class Electric would feature the new ‘Mercedes me Charge’ Plug & Charge function. At public charging stations supporting Plug & Charge, including Electrify America points, customers would conveniently start charging their electric sedan without needing to go through any manual input for authentication. The car and charger would communicate automatically via the charging cable. Plus, the payment would also happen automatically through the preset payment mode.
The all-electric C-Class may get many new and improved features over its life with updates pushed over the air. Moreover, customers will likely be able to enable features with permanent/time-limited activations or subscriptions anytime during the ownership, days, months, and even years after the car leaves the factory and reaches them.
Active Ambient Lighting
Another optional extra in the C-Class Electric could be Active Ambient Lighting which can visually support warnings of the car’s driving assistance systems with color feedback. This new mood lighting system may give color feedback even when operating the climate control system, “Hey Mercedes,” and the Energizing Comfort programs.
Digital Light headlights
The C-Class Electric will likely feature Digital Light headlights with a projection function. The headlights would be able to project auxiliary markings or warning symbols onto the road in HD quality, making the car even safer.
Air suspension and rear-axle steering
The Mercedes C-Class EV would come with rear-axle steering as an option. Rear-axle steering with a steering angle of 2.5 degrees is available as an option in the ICE C-Class Sedan. It reduces the turning circle by 43 cm to 10.64 meters. Air suspension at the rear could be a standard feature.
Bi-directional charging has started to become a new normal feature in EVs, and that push is coming mainly from Hyundai Motor Group’s Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands. BMW Group and Volkswagen Group are also working on deploying this technology in their EVs, and there’s no chance Mercedes-Benz Group would stay behind, that too in a car this important globally. Bi-directional charging may allow charging other pluggable EVs (PHEVs and BEVs), powering external equipment like power tools and electrical appliances, and even sending back power to the grid. The functions available may vary as per the market.
Production & Release Date
Production of the Mercedes C-Class Electric should take place in Bremen, Germany. During a media conference call on February 17, 2023, Källenius indicated it will start arriving at dealerships in 2026:
In order to cover the entire markets, we need a second wave (of EVs), and the second wave are the vehicles with MMA and MB.EA, because this includes the electrical GLC and the electrical C-Class. This is the segment that’s the biggest Mercedes segment if you only look at unit sales. And these are vehicle generations that will be launched in ’25 and ’26.Ola Källenius, CEO, Mercedes-Benz Group (Media conference call on February 17, 2023)
As for its competitors, the Tesla Model 3 is already the default choice for customers looking for a premium electric sedan in the D-segment. Future European D-segment rivals of the Mercedes C-Class Electric include the Neue Klasse-based BMW 3 Series Electric and the Audi A4 e-tron (Audi E4).
No ‘EQ’ branding for the C-Class Electric?
Future electric car models from Mercedes-Benz will not sport the ‘EQ’ branding, according to a Handelsblatt report dated January 12, 2023. The company is planning to offer only pure-electric models by 2030 in market where conditions allow. By dropping combustion-engine cars from its line-up, the automaker will no longer need a dedicated electric sub-brand, added the German publication. Therefore, the EQC sedan could be announced as the Mercedes C-Class Electric, which also negates confusion in branding. Note that Mercedes has not confirmed this development.
In terms of performance, space, comfort, and perhaps safety, the 2026 Mercedes C-Class Electric could be superior to the gas-powered C-Class thanks to its MB.EA platform. Despite being more expensive to purchase/lease, lower running costs should result in significant savings in the long run.
Mercedes C-Class Electric FAQs
What are the future C-Class Electric rivals?
What is the Mercedes C-Class Electric release date?
The Mercedes C-Class electric will be launched in 2026.
What is the expected Mercedes C-Class Electric price & range?
Expect the high-spec C-Class EV to get 300-350 miles of range (EPA). Prices should start at around USD 55,000.
Featured Image Source: TopElectricSUV unofficial render for illustration purpose only.