Mercedes, BMW, Audi future product: A race to an EV future

Mercedes is ditching the A-Class in the U.S. and has told dealers it will replace the C-Class and E-Class coupes with the new CLE.

Mercedes is also going more upmarket, focusing on its high-performance AMG and tony Maybach subbrands — both of which will also receive the EV treatment.

Rival BMW Group is more pragmatic with its pivot to a zero-emission future. 

Having launched two EVs in the U.S. this year, the automaker will deliver battery-powered versions of the BMW 7 Series sedan and 5 Series sedan and the Mini Countryman crossover over the next two years.

Further out, Mini is considering two China-made EVs for the U.S. market, including a crossover that would slot below the Countryman.

But BMW will still push on with redesigned combustion engine and hybrid variants of its marquee nameplates, including the 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series lineups.

“If you want to be resilient, you have to be flexible,” BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said in April. “We think the [EV] infrastructure will not move as fast as market demand.”

At Audi, the transition to an all-electric portfolio is proceeding with the addition this year of the Q4 E-tron while the brand continues to run out its lineup of internal combustion-powered vehicles through one more life cycle progression. 

However, Audi’s aggressive timetable was impacted by the war in Ukraine and the global microchip shortage, causing some projects to slip further into mid-decade.

Audi has also signaled that it will use design to help differentiate its lineup by powertrain, adopting unique features for EVs only. And it offered hope with a series of concept vehicles over the last year that it will stick to the technological cutting edge for its future EVs.

Larry P. Vellequette contributed to this report.

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