In a development that would make Shakespeare smile, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla, once partners, are soon to be rivals of the bitterest order once again.
After learning all it could from Tesla and selling a stake in the e-vehicle manufacturer at a profit of nearly $800 million, Daimler (Mercedes’s parent company) is set to unveil an electric coupe of its own prior to start of the Paris Auto Show on October 1st.
The shapeshifting Concept IAA — which will automatically transform from a classic four-door into an “aerodynamics world champion” upon reaching a speed of 50 MPH — has the potential to be a “Tesla killer,” Mercedes-Benz Australia exec David McCarthy told Motoring.
“We’re in business to make money, and is our EV a Tesla killer? I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet. But we wouldn’t be doing it unless we thought we could sell it,” he said.
The 280-HP, AWD model will have an electric motor mounted over each axle that’ll help it hit a top speed of 155 MPH, while a sizable battery pack will provide the car with a max driving range of about 310 miles — a distance that stacks up with the Tesla S. McCarthy acknowledged Tesla has done a good job of making e-vehicles “sexy” (recent events notwithstanding) but he believes Mercedes can overtake Elon Musk’s marque thanks to a great capacity for output.
“Tesla has done a huge, amazing job. The challenge for them is to get their production levels where they say they need to be, by the time they want them to be, and make money,” McCarthy said. “Tesla’s challenge will be making the numbers of cars they say they’re going to make in the time frame they say they’re going to make them.”
When production models of the Concept IAA roll out in 2018, they’ll be priced similarly to the Tesla Model S ($150,000-$200,000), and Mercedes plans to roll out three more models with improved range by 2020.
Musk better book himself an e-ticket for Paris.