The Mercedes-Benz EQS flagship electric saloon will break with tradition by trumping the next-generation S-Class for innovation when it’s expected to arrive barely 12 months later in 2022.
The new S-Class will indeed be targeting new benchmarks in all areas when it appears at the end of 2020, but its reign at the top will be short lived, and all part of Mercedes-Benz’s new strategy to put the latest innovations into every new model from launch.
Mercedes-Benz Research and Development boss Markus Schäfer explained the shift in process to Australian media following the Vision EQS concept's unveiling at the Frankfurt motor show today.
“You know, some years ago we had a typical hierarchy. So when it came to innovation we started with the S-Class and we were cascading it down. So we started with S-Class and then E-Class and C-Class got the features. These days are over when it comes to innovation. Look at the new A-Class. The MBUX in the A-Class is a very advanced system, so every new car we bring, we have to raise the bar and go to at least the next level of innovation.
The A-Class is a particularly good example of this new approach given it sits at the opposite end of the Mercedes-Benz model tree to the S-Class. This makes it seem all the more appropriate that the production EQS will be allowed to cast a shadow on the S-Class, given it’s the first model to be built on the all-new EV-specific platform, with an all-new design language inside and out and representing the brand’s ambitious sustainability target to have a carbon neutral fleet by 2039.
“So it’s a constant push of innovation into our product lineup and even updates, so the times are over where the car will remain the same over seven years life cycle. For the connectivity and upgradeability of the future, the car will change.,” Mr Schäfer added.
This last point is probably more reflective of the increasing role of software (rather than hardware) in modern vehicle innovation, but the change of pace will also help Mercedes-Benz compete with other carmakers who have played their best card first for years.
Mr Schäfer explained that different customer bases between S-Class and EQS will also help mitigate any potential downsides of letting the new electric car outshine the next S-Class so soon after launch.
“We probably have more conservative customers (for S-Class) around the world, and there are very aggressive customers in terms of technology and their wish to own an EV car, and probably we can satisfy both.”
Asked whether this means the next S-Class will only extend its drivetrain innovation as far as a plug-in hybrid setup, and leave the pure EV market to the EQS, Mr Schäfer admitted it’s a fair assumption.