Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that the EQS sedan, its flagship electric vehicle, will cost at least $100,000, as it began taking orders in Germany on Tuesday. The base model, which has a 90kWh battery pack and uses a single electric motor to power the rear wheels, starts at €106,374.10 — roughly $124,000. The more expensive dual-motor, all-wheel drive variant features a 107.8kWh battery pack and will start at €135,529.10 — or nearly $159,000.
As buyers spec out their EQS, the prices can certainly go up from there. But even once they have the car, Mercedes-Benz will use the EQS to test whether customers are going to be interested in paying to unlock or accept other features made available by over-the-air software updates. For instance, Mercedes-Benz will electronically limit the steering angle of the rear wheels, but there will be an option after purchase to pay the company more money to increase that steering angle by a few degrees for a tighter turning radius. Mercedes-Benz says it even plans to offer “[t]emporary activations and free trial periods” of these features to entice customers.
There are, of course, more software-focused upsells that will be available. For €89 per month (after a year free, of course), EQS owners will get the privilege of playing Tetris, Sudoku, and other mini-games on the massive “hyperscreen” in the dashboard, among other features.
Mercedes-Benz isn’t the only company trying out ideas like this, and it certainly won’t be the last as automakers increase the amount of computer control over the various elements of what makes a car move. Tesla pioneered the idea by making features like its Autopilot driver assistance system available for purchase over the air. (The company at one point even sold some cars with bigger batteries that were electronically limited to have lower range, and owners could pay to unlock that extra capacity.) Fellow German automaker BMW is also pretty high on the idea of in-car microtransactions.
Buyers who don’t bother will still get what seems like an incredibly capable electric car. And while the EQS will inescapably be compared to the revamped Model S sedan because of its similarity in price and long-range capabilities, Mercedes-Benz’s embrace of maximalist luxury still stands in stark contrast to Tesla’s laser focus on minimalism and technology. How that goes over in Germany and, later this year, the United States, will be something to consider as the EQS finally hits the road.