• Image Credit: CarPix
  • Image Credit: CarPix
  • Image Credit: CarPix
  • Image Credit: CarPix
  • Image Credit: CarPix
  • Image Credit: CarPix
  • Image Credit: CarPix
  • Image Credit: CarPix
Automobile has a lengthy piece this month on how the four German mass-market luxury manufacturers each plan to go after Tesla with their own electric vehicles. It was written by Georg Kacher, the magazine's European bureau chief, and the English version came a month after he wrote the German-language original for Autobild. Tesla isn't exactly a threat to the Germans, but, according to the report, the Model S is planting the right kinds of seeds in niches that are important to the luxury players. The thinking is that - in addition to needed electric vehicles anyway for stricter US regulations - it's better to start designing the machinery now.

The article posited Porsche's attack would rest on the coming Panamera platform, but a big hurdle would be battery placement. Unable to find one large space for a lithium-ion pack, engineers would instead put batteries everywhere they could, for a supposed tally of some "108 battery pouches" throughout the body. A few days after the Automobile piece, however, Porsche publicly said it had no intention of challenging the Model S, because the enthusiastic driving the brand is known for doesn't jive with useful range.

In Kacher's retelling, Mercedes' plans are even more ambitious, supposedly taking aim at the Model S and the coming Model X. It would do this with an investment in excess of $2 billion in a program called "Ecoluxe" – Mercedes has no brand division akin to BMW's i and Audi's e-tron.

The new brand would create a four-strong family of bespoke electric vehicles: a smaller platform with a wheelbase around 106 inches and a larger one with a wheelbase around 118 inches. In addition, the range would have "provisions for rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and rear-wheel steering." The numbers are impressive: seating for seven in the larger vehicles, both longer than 16 feet, front and rear storage areas, ratings of up to 610 horsepower and production capacity of 80,000 units per year. When would we see such creatures? Perhaps as soon as 2019.

We do know that if Tesla can knock the Model X over the outfield fence, automakers are going to have to do something. We don't know what the chances are that Ecoluxe is Mercedes' first move - but such a plan could help explain the weird Mercedes concept spied in October. We've reached out to Mercedes for comment, we'll let you know if we get a response


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