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Mercedes gets serious about electric cars with Generation EQ concept

Almost exactly one year ago, at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi unveiled the e-tron quattro concept, a preview of an all-electric SUV it plans to launch in 2018. Now, at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz is firing back with an electric SUV concept of its own.

The Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept rides on a new dedicated platform for electric cars that will eventually underpin multiple models. Mercedes says the modular platform is flexible enough to accommodate everything from convertibles to SUVs. It’s Mercedes’ attempt to match its German rivals, not to mention Tesla Motors.

In addition to previewing a new platform, the Generation EQ previews styling that will be used to set future Mercedes electric cars apart from their gasoline and diesel counterparts. What the carmaker calls its “electro look” is defined by a panel of lighting elements that takes the place of a conventional grille. The vehicle itself has a sleeker design than traditional SUVs, with a low roofline and smooth body sides. It also uses cameras in place of exterior mirrors, removing a source of aerodynamic drag.

Naturally for an SUV, the Generation EQ has all-wheel drive, as well as 402 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That will get the concept car from 0 to 62 mph in under five seconds, according to Mercedes. The lithium-ion battery pack from Mercedes parent Daimler’s Deutsche Accusative subsidiary boasts 70 kilowatt hours of capacity, enough for an estimated range of 500 kilometers (310 miles).

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The interior does away with anything analog. Most information is relayed through a 24-inch TFT widescreen display, and touch controls handle virtually all operations. Touchpads are located on both the steering wheel and center console which, because this is still a Mercedes, is lined with rose gold. The display can show 3D city maps generated by Here (in which Daimler owns a stake). They highlight points of interest by fading other buildings into the background.

The Generation EQ likely heralds an all-electric production SUV from Mercedes. The carmaker describes the concept as “close to production,” and in a press release for the EQ, boss Dieter Zetsche said Mercedes is about to launch an “electric product offensive” that will “cover all vehicle segments.” Watch this space.