Echoing a clear theme of the 2019 LA Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz announced at an off-site fleet preview that 10 electrified models will eventually join the brand's first all-electric vehicle that debuted on Nov. 20.
The 2020 EQC, which will be available in early 2020, is an all-electric SUV offering an estimated 200-mile range. Built on the GLC platform, the all-new vehicle delivers 402 hp and 561 lb.-ft. of torque.
Additional electrified versions of existing vehicles joining the EQC will be announced in the coming year, according to the company.
These details were provided during a fleet preview provided to Los Angeles-based fleet and transportation, presented by Rob Teitelbaum, Mercedes-Benz' department manager of fleet operations, and Brian Patnoe, Western region fleet manager.
While electrification was an overarching theme of many manufacturer announcements during the Automobility LA trade show preceeding the show, Patnoe and Teitelbaum also focused on how the new vehicles are delivering safety.
The EQC is equipped with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system, which provides, among other features, natural language understanding technology, helping to limit distractions on the road.
MBUX was first introduced in the A-Class, and has since rolled out to Sprinter, CLA, GLB, GLC, GLE, and GLS. It will continue to roll out across the Mercedes-Benz lineup, according to Patnoe.
Mercedes-Benz is expanding safety technology across its lineup. For example, all 2020 Mercedes-Benz models will be equipped with Active Brake Assist, a radar-based system with visual and audible warnings that increases braking pressure in the driver fails to apply enough braking and automatic braking if the driver fails to react to an imminent collision.
The company is also offering Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function that detects a crossing pedestrian and provides warnings and almost simultaneous emergency braking; and Adaptive Braking Technology with predictive brake priming, hill start assist, brake dry (which helps to keep the brakes dry in wet weather), and brake hold.
Other available safety systems include Attention Assist, which will cue the driver with audible and visual warnings if he or she appears to be distracted or drowsy, and Pre-Safe, a system that protects occupants in the case of an unavoidable crash, by prepping the vehicle for the collision.
Another safety feature, Crosswind Assist, recognizes gusty crosswinds and helps the vehicle stay on course.
"You can replace the cars but you can't replace the person," Patnoe observed. "It's all about safety."
Sedans Still in the Lineup
The EQC wasn't the only SUV that the Mercedes-Benz team highlighted during the 30-minute presentation. Patnoe noted that the GLB is a "great fleet vehicle" and the upcoming GLA, which will launch in the middle of 2020, is also positioned as a strong fleet option.
At 111.4 inches, the GLB's wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than the GLA and 1.7 inches shorter than the GLC SUV. It's expected to get 30 mpg on the highway.
While acknowledging that SUVs have good demand and resale value, Patnoe assured the fleet attendees that the company is not abandoning its sedan lineup.
He pointed to the C-Class, which he noted was roomy and ideal for sales reps and managers, and the E-Class that is ideal for the livery market.
Teitelbaum announced that the OEM has launched pilots of its Mercedes-Benz Collection in Nashville, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. The monthly subscription service allows participants to choose any vehicle that they need from the Mercedes-Benz lineup, changing as frequently as necessary.
The program is attracting a younger demographic and has resulted in 83% conquest business, according to Teitelbaum. The Atlanta pilot is of particular note. Launched in June, there is currently a wait list of those who want to sign up for the program.
Patnoe noted that while Mercedes-Benz isn't the least expensive option for fleets, it offers high value.
"For employee retention, offering Mercedes-Benz on the selector list gets employees very excited," Patnoe said. "There's a lot of value in these vehicles."