Mercedes EQE 500, the German carmaker's first born-electric SUV in India, hardly looks like the GLE, its ICE (internal combustion engine) counterpart. And that's because the EQE's exterior is purpose-built to enhance range.

Thanks to the EQE's aerodynamic design, its 90.5-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery has a claimed range of 550 kilometres on full charge.

Available only in the top-level trim in India, the EQE SUV is priced at ₹1.39 crore—a little more than the on-road price of its ICE sibling, the GLE, which costs roughly ₹1.3 crore.

While Mercedes' flagship EV, the EQS 580 sedan, is assembled locally, the EQE 500 will come to India via the completely built-up unit (CBU) route. The carmaker chose to import its latest all-electric SUV to India as its mother plant in the U.S. isn't yet ready to supply components and kits. "The EQE is made in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S. That plant is yet not able to supply the components and kits. That's the reason we decided to go for CBUs," Santosh Iyer, managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, tells Fortune India.

The EQE offers ample knee room and leg space for rear seat passengers owing to its 3030 mm wheelbase — the longest in the segment. While the boot capacity is 520 litres, the spare tyre placed in the trunk eats into the overall luggage space. However, if you need more space, just fold down the seats and you have 1,675 litres available.

The electric SUV comes equipped with two electric motors, both at the front and rear axle, producing 408 hp and 858 Nm of combined torque. The EQE can accelerate to 100 kmph from a standstill in just 4.9 seconds, as per the carmaker. Its top speed is limited to 210 kmph.

On the inside, the EQE gets a 56-inch 'Hyperscreen' that stretches from one end of the dashboard to the other, just like the EQS sedan. While one can choose from a range of driving modes depending on performance or efficiency, the off-road mode in the EQE elevates the car's air suspension by 25 mm with just the touch of a button. The 'transparent bonnet' feature displays a virtual view under the vehicle, which is quite handy for off-road driving.

In terms of maintenance, the EQE needs servicing only once in two years or after 30,000 kilometres.

To reassure customers who sometimes may be wary of battery life, Mercedes is offering a 10-year warranty on the battery — an extra two years than its rivals. The German carmaker is also offering a residual value guarantee for those who want to exchange their EVs after five years. "Residual value of ICE GLE is close to 50% at the end of five years. The EQE will get the same residual value," Iyer says.

Still, awareness is needed when it comes to EVs as most buyers think there is no battery life after 10 years, Iyer says, adding that these cars can run for 15-20 years. "Unlike a combustion engine, the entire battery can be recovered in EVs. The batteries today are 96% recoverable in terms of rare earth minerals. No other technology offers this kind of recoverability and sustainability for the environment," he says. "The value of an EV after 15 years is more than a combustion engine car."

Currently, EVs contribute 4-5% to Mercedes' overall volumes in India. In the next four years, the carmaker is eyeing 20-25% of its sales from electric cars. "As of today, there is no better alternative to EVs in automobiles," says Iyer.

The transition to EVs, Iyer believes, will depend on the maturity of the consumer, charging infrastructure and consistency in government policies. And the luxury carmaker is doing its bit by opening up its charging network to all EVs, including mass-market brands. "This is important because the charging ecosystem is critical for EV adoption," Iyer says.

Mercedes' charging network in the country includes 180-kilowatt ultra-fast chargers. The EQE, which supports up to 170 kW of DC load, can be charged from 10% SOC (state of charge) to 80% in under 30 minutes. For home charging, the car comes with an 11kW AC charger.

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