The big Benz will be built exclusively at the company's Tuscaloosa facility.
For the fine workers at the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant, there's reason to celebrate. The EQS SUV is finally making its way down the production line and looks ready to do battle with the BMW iX and Tesla Model X. Revealed in April this year, the luxury SUV is a technological tour de force that will undoubtedly appeal to monied consumers with an environmental conscience.
The Alabama-based facility has a long history of producing Mercedes SUVs, the first being the much-derided W163 M-Class in 1997. Thankfully, the factory has come a long way since then, and thanks to investments in state-of-the-art machinery and flexible production methods, the plant is poised to spew out electric vehicles in large volumes.
"Our production network is very well positioned for the sustainable and rapid scaling of electric vehicle volumes," said Jorg Burzer, member of the board at Mercedes. "I am absolutely sure that our great Tuscaloosa team will make the electric SUV another global success." The battery systems for the new range-topper will be supplied by the company's new battery factory, also in Alabama.
The facility uses a fully digitized production process, which allows for efficient assembly. Several components - including the twelve cell modules - are assembled into a single system to be used by the plush Benz at a later date. Elsewhere, the Tuscaloosa factory has recently become CO2 neutral, which seems fitting when you're building electric cars.
Local pricing for the EQS SUV is yet to be revealed, but it's safe to assume the American-built Mercedes won't qualify for the new EV tax credit - an $80,000 limit has been imposed for trucks, vans, and SUVs. We're guessing the newcomer will cost a lot more than that.
In Germany, the EQS SUV is priced from €110,658.10 (approximately $111,160). That makes it more expensive than the EQS sedan (€107,326). In the USA, the sedan equivalent is priced from $102,310. If MBUSA applies a similar strategy, the SUV certainly won't be eligible for the $7,500 incentive.
As a reminder, the new EV credit is available to electric cars manufactured in America. This means the upcoming EQE SUV might still qualify with its lower pricing.
While Mercedes is still putting the final touches on the EQE SUV, the smaller electric variant is expected to enter production later this year. If the German automaker can get the pricing right, there's a strong chance it may be eligible for the incentive. Frankly, we don't see why it shouldn't be. The EQE SUV is positioned below the EQS SUV and BMW iX segment and, therefore, should be cheaper.
The BMW has a starting price of $84,100 and we're guessing Mercedes wouldn't want to encroach on that territory with its smaller model. As such, it's safe to assume the EQE will be priced in the $70,000 range. If that's the case, buyers can look forward to a big saving. Of course, this is speculation for now and we'll have to wait for official pricing.
For now, the EQS SUV is set to cause a stir in the hotly-contested luxury EV segment. "The employees here at the site can be proud that the first all-electric SUV from Mercedes-Benz and its battery [is] being built in Alabama," said the company's Michael Goebel.