Mercedes-Benz is about to launch its first all-electric vehicle built to be electric from the ground up next year.

The company gave us some glimpses at its development program over the last year and today, they released pictures of all-electric EQC SUV’s production prototype during winter testing. The German automaker has produced all-electric vehicles in the past, but they were compliance cars based on existing gas-powered models.

Also, they were outsourcing the electric powertrain to other manufacturers, like Tesla at some point for the Mercedes B-class Electric.

Now Mercedes-Benz has a more serious EV effort that will start next year with the first vehicle, the all-electric ‘EQC’ SUV, under their new all-electric ‘EQ’ sub-brand.

They brought the pre-production prototype to the small northern Swedish town of Arjeplog in Lapland to test the all-electric vehicle “in icy temperatures down to minus 35 degrees Celsius, on snow-covered roads, and on sheer ice on frozen lakes.”

For the occasion, the automaker released the first few official images of the pre-production prototype – albeit with some camouflage:

Electric vehicle performance in cold weather is often an important concern for buyers. Tesla’s vehicles have done a lot to dissipate some concerns with a lot of success in Nordic countries like Norway and in Canada.

But other automakers are also taking winter performance very seriously for electric vehicles and they make sure we know about it. For example, Jaguar also recently released some media content about the all-electric I-Pace winter testing program.

Now it’s Mercedes-Benz’s turn. Michael Kelz, Chief Engineer for the EQC program, commented on the winter testing:

“In addition to vehicle dynamics on snow and ice, winter testing of an electric car naturally also focuses on how well the battery system and the powertrain perform in sub-zero temperatures. Not to mention efficiency and comfort aspects, of course, such as the climate control, which are so decisive in terms of the vehicle’s range. Our most important learning experiences in Sweden are based on the fact that we can keep on encountering unexpected situations and gain valuable insights – something which it is not possible to achieve using currently available simulation technology.”

The engineer hyped the vehicle, adding that it’s “beginning of a new era” for the company:

“The EQC is an absolute highlight when it comes to power, sportiness and utility value. Likewise, the driving feel is sure to thrill our customers – not least thanks to the all-wheel drive, which we can incidentally tune particularly effectively here in Sweden on the frozen lakes. Then there are innovative solutions in areas such as telematics, connectivity and charging. The EQC really does herald the beginning of a new era in electric mobility at Mercedes-Benz.”

Kelz says that the car’s development is currently in “an excellent place” and that it’s now more about fine-tuning it ahead of the launch next year.

Mercedes-Benz previously said that the EQC is equipped with a 70 kWh battery pack for a range of ‘up to 500 kilometers’ (310 miles). Of course, that’s based on the NEDC standard and the real-world range or EPA-rated range would be expected to be significantly less – around 250 miles. In terms of range, it should be competitive with the several other all-electric luxury SUVs coming to market in the next few years.

As for power, Mercedes says that the EQC is equipped with two electric motors on the front and rear axles for a total power output of up to 300 kW. The automaker claims that it will be able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in under five seconds.

About the Author