Mercedes to unveil electric hatchback concept at Frankfurt

New concept will preview entry-level model for firm’s electric EQ range; due to go on sale in 2020 priced around £35,000

Mercedes-Benz is set to build on its newly established EQ electric car sub-brand with the unveiling of a zero-emission hatchback concept at the Frankfurt motor show in September, Autocar can reveal.

The new electric car concept, presently undergoing construction at Mercedes-Benz’s in-house prototype workshop near its headquarters in Stuttgart, is said to preview the German car maker’s planned entry-level EQ A. That model is planned to go on sale in 2020 as part of a full line-up of electric-powered models.

Conceived as a direct rival to the BMW i3 and an upcoming production version of the Volkswagen I.D., the new electric hatchback is among 10 new EVs being developed by Mercedes-Benz in an £8.6 billion programme and which are planned to go on sale before 2025.

The initial EQ model, the EQ C SUV, was unveiled in concept guise as part of a public debut for Mercedes-Benz’s dedicated electric car EQ sub-brand at last year’s Paris motor show. Recent trademark applications suggest there will there also be an EQ E and an EQ S.

Described to Autocar as a central pillar in Mercedes-Benz’s bid to become an electric car leader within the next decade, the EQ A hatchback is expected to be the volume seller of the EQ line-up with a price-tag of less than £35,000 when sales get under way in around two and a half years from now.

The second EQ model will play an important role in the future of Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler’s Car-To-Go car sharing division, with high-level executives suggesting it will be offered on a short-term drive away lease basis as part of a global mobility ‘ecosystem’.

Based around Mercedes-Benz’s new  modular electric architecture (MEA) platform, the EQ A hatchback will follow the lead of the EQ C in adopting a conventional silhouette, with a defined bonnet line at the front, a traditional glasshouse housing a five-seat cabin and a hatchback-style tailgate at the rear.

Despite the similarities in shape with conventional combustion-engined hatchbacks, Autocar has been told it will receive the same black panel grille treatment and surfacing treatment as the EQ C.

Secrecy surrounds the driveline layout of the EQ A, although Mercedes-Benz hints at a cheaper and simpler solution than the set-up used by the EQ C. That suggests it will receive a single front-mounted electric motor, with drive sent to the front wheels via a fixed-ratio gearbox.

A more performance-orientated set-up, with a second electric motor mounted within the rear axle assembly and providing four-wheel drive capability similar to that seen on the EQ C, is also under discussion, according to sources.

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed the EQ C will be produced at its plant in Bremen, Germany, with other more upmarket EQ models, including the EQ E and EQ S, set to be assembled at its main manufacturing site in Sindelfingen, Germany. While remaining tight-lipped on where the EQ A production will take place, officials hint that it will likely be built on a special line at Mercedes-Benz’s original compact car plant in Rastatt, Germany.

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