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The Mercedes-Benz EQE is a more approachable luxury electric car

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A toned-down version of flagship EQS

Images: Mercedes-Benz

If you liked Mercedes-Benz’s flagship electric sedan, the EQS, but grimaced at its six-figure price tag (or don’t feel you need its sundry bells and whistles), the German automaker has a new vehicle on the way that may be of interest. On Sunday, Mercedes-Benz revealed the EQE, a slightly smaller sedan built on the same technical platform that will undoubtedly be a few bucks cheaper when it launches next year — though the company did not share pricing.

The EQE was revealed at the 2021 IAA Mobility conference alongside a few other electrics that are coming out of Stuttgart: the EQB compact SUV, AMG performance and Maybach versions of the EQS, and an electric G-Wagen concept.

While the EQE is 3.5 inches shorter than the EQS, it will share a lot of the same traits as the company’s leading electric sedan — in fact, at one point in its press release, Mercedes-Benz says the EQE will be “[c]ontinuing the good genes of the EQS.”

That said, some of the EQS’s more standout features are no longer standard. The massive “hyperscreen” display that dominates the dashboard will be available, but only as an option. Rear-axle steering will also be available... as an option. (In the EQS, 4.5 degrees of rear-axle steering is standard, while buyers can pay more to essentially “unlock” 10 degrees of rear axle steering.) The EQE will get over-the-air updates and upgrades, too.

The rear-wheel drive launch model of the EQE will use the same 90kWh battery pack that powers the base model of the EQS, which the company says will be good for up to an impressive 660 kilometers (410 miles) of driving on a full charge — though that figure is based on the more forgiving European WLTP standard, and so a more realistic range estimate will likely be lower.

This EQE will put down significantly less power — 288 horsepower versus the 516HP of the all-wheel drive EQS. Mercedes-Benz says a second variant will be available at launch, though it didn’t clarify whether that other EQE will be more or less capable.

Still, by building on an electric vehicle platform and ditching the combustion powertrain, Mercedes-Benz says that the EQE’s interior dimensions “clearly exceed” those of the existing E-Class. Practically, this means there’s an extra inch of shoulder room for those sitting up front, and an extra three inches in interior length. Being seated atop the battery pack also means the EQE offers a higher seating position for an even better view of the road.

The EQS already looks like a worthy competitor to Tesla’s Model S Plaid, so the EQE is all about trying to offer a somewhat more affordable and approachable way into what Mercedes-Benz is doing at the high end with its electric cars. And as long as it executes, the EQE could be a far more promising entrant into the market than some of Mercedes-Benz’s other early attempts, like the EQC, which was full of compromises due to being being built on a combustion engine platform instead of being a ground-up electric vehicle — one of the goals that it established when it first revealed the Vision EQS concept in 2019.

“After the EQS, the EQE is already the second model on our platform for luxury- and premium-class electric vehicles,” Markus Schäfer, chief operating officer of Mercedes-Benz said in a statement. “This speed of innovation shows the advantages of the scalable architecture: With the new EQE, we can quickly make the high-tech solutions of our electric flagship EQS available to a wider group of buyers.”

One of the other big goals Mercedes-Benz laid out with the Vision EQS in 2019 was sustainability, and it’s backing up some of that ambition with the EQE. The company says the structural shell of the car is made with recycled steel, and that many of the internal components are made of recycled and renewable materials, including cable ducts. Mercedes-Benz also says less than 10 percent of the battery chemistry consists of cobalt.

That’s good to hear from a company that, like Volkswagen, spent years lying about the true emissions of its diesel cars and intentionally duped regulators. Though it likely won’t boost EQE sales. Instead, Mercedes-Benz will have to convince buyers that sedans still have a place in the world — and that an electric E-class is just as much worth a year’s salary as its gas-powered predecessors.