Mercedes-Benz Australia CEO Horst von Sanden says demand for electric vehicles in Australia is now strong enough that the carmaker will roll out zero emissions cars despite supporting policy from the government.
The German carmaker is due to release its flagship electric car, the EQC, in Australia in October, and although the recently re-elected Coalition government has to date only come up with a plan to develop a plan for electric vehicles in Australia, and said that it does not intend revealing that plan until mid-2020, von Sanden says the time is right.
“I think there is no doubt that electric cars at the moment are the future, the question is how quickly can the volume grow?” he told Go Auto.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the interest of our EQC – early expressions of interest and commitments to buy – and we can’t wait to finally have the car here.”
While von Sanden did not reveal the exact number of EQCs slated for Australian shores, he says that interest in the EQC, production for which commenced in May 2019, indicates that demand may outstrip supply.
“We’ve had extremely good feedback from customers and interest shown. Unfortunately, our allocation for the first year and second year is quite moderate, so I’m pretty confident that demand will be greater than supply, but at least it’s a start into a new era.
“We believe the time is right for electric cars,” he said.
The price tag for the compact electric SUV will be in the vicinity of higher end Teslas – Mercedes-Benz has so far announced that it will be priced from €71,281 in Europe ($A115,100 at today’s rates).
Kitted out with an 85kWh battery, Mercedes-Benz says that the EQC will deliver up to 450km range – an important factor when deciding to buy an electric car to alleviate the “range anxiety” commonly reported as a barrier to switching to electric vehicles.
“Of course they need to be the right electric cars, they need to have the right range – that is still the biggest fear of people,” von Sanden said.
Another key factor reported as a barrier to deciding to buy an electric car is the availability of adequate charging infrastructure.
“The second question is how about charging infrastructure – the needs of our customers will be satisfied either at home or at your workplace or at a dealership, and then of course we joined with other manufacturers to develop infrastructure beyond the metropolitan areas,” he said.
Mercedes-Benz’ approach is to be led by market demand, rather than reply on government direction.
“Do we wait for the government to put everything into place, or do we start to bring things in and the government and customers will follow?
“In the end, it’s all about the customer, it’s not about us, it’s not about the government, it’s about what the customers want.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.