Mercedes-Benz presented a car that it calls by a new name and that is its most affordable electric car, but make no mistake. The is the company’s electric derivative for the GLA. As such, it presents multiple compromises that may hurt Mercedes-Benz plans for it right from the start.
Instead of presenting a dedicated platform, the EQA has the same MFA2 architecture that the GLA uses, but the component sharing goes beyond that. Most of the body is the same apart from some components that had to be changed due to air resistance concerns.
At 4.47 meters, the EQA is only 6 centimeters longer than the GLA, probably due to the aerodynamic improvements – the GLA is 4.41 m long. Their width and wheelbase are the same – respectively at 1,834 millimeters and 2,729 mm – but the EQA is slightly higher than the GLA: 1.62 m against 1.61 m.
The efforts to make the EQA less resistant to airflow lowered its drag coefficient, but not as much as one would expect for an electric car. Instead of the 0.32 the GLA presents, the EQA reaches 0.28. That’s comparable to what the Citroën XM had back in 1989.
Since the MFA2 platform was not designed for electric cars, Mercedes-Benz had to adapt it to have a big battery pack. In EQA 250’s case, it offers 66.5 kWh and an 11-kW onboard charger. This is the first derivative of the EQA to be put for sale, at €47,540.50 in Germany without government incentives but including VAT.
The practical effect of that change is that the car offers less space for cargo and passengers. While the GLA can hold 435 liters of cargo in the trunk, the EQA offers 340 l of luggage capacity.
Journalists who already had the opportunity to drive EQA prototypes, such as Greg Kable, mention that the rear seat is shallow, making passengers there travel without proper thigh support and with their knees higher than they should be. That happened because the car floor had to be raised to make room for the battery pack, and Mercedes-Benz had to ensure rear passengers would have enough headroom to fit in there.
Another visible compromise is that this is another electric Mercedes-Benz not to offer a frunk. It doesn’t because the MFA2 was conceived for front-wheel-drive vehicles. Mercedes-Benz mentioned the EQA would eventually have an all-wheel-drive version with 200 kW (268 hp) – the EQA 250 offers 140 kW (188 hp). Until then, it will be one of the very few electric vehicles pulled by its front wheels. That gives it a worse turning radius than that of its competitors.
The explanation for that is scale gains: as much as the EQC, the EQA can be assembled side by side in all plants where the GLA also is. Developing an electric car platform would have cost Daimler billions.
The company knows it will be under scrutiny. So much so that it released the range for the EQA 250 under the NEDC cycle. According to the press release, the 66.5 kWh will help the EQA travel up to 486 kilometers under that cycle. If the company used WLTP, it would not run much further than 400 km.
Daimler promised that future derivatives would allow the EQA to go more than 500 km under the WLTP cycle, which presents more realistic data compared to NEDC. If the company ever sells the EQA in the US, its EPA numbers will certainly be lower.
All that paints a strange picture for Daimler and its main brand. Electric cars built over architectures designed for combustion-engined vehicles give the impression that the German company thought the solution Karl Benz presented in 1886 would stick around for more time. When EVs started to show their strength, it was caught by surprise.
Volkswagen pushed for that change and already has two platforms dedicated to EVs: PPE and MEB. If the ID.3 does not have a frunk, that seems to have more to do with serviceability than with an impossibility. Ford has one for the Mustang Mach-E and is preparing to develop more. Renault's entire strategic plan is to prepare the company for electrification.
Daimler really needs one, and the may present precisely that. Before that, the company will make do with the ICE platforms it has, hoping it will be enough. Let’s see how consumers react to the EQA.