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Mercedes-Benz delays US launch of its first mass-market electric vehicle

Mercedes-Benz is pushing back the US release of its first mass-market electric vehicle, an SUV known as the EQC, to 2021. The $68,000 EV was originally supposed to start shipping in the US at the start of 2020.

Announced in 2018, the EQC launched in Europe earlier this year. Mercedes-Benz says parent company Daimler made a “strategic decision to first support the growing customer demand for the EQC” on the continent. Mercedes-Benz also says that there is “high interest worldwide.” Beyond that, neither company offered any more information as to why it’s pushing back the US launch or why one of the biggest global automotive conglomerates needs to sacrifice one market in favor of another.

The US is the second biggest car market in the world behind China, but it’s only on par with (and sometimes behind) Europe when it comes to sales of all-electric vehicles. One factor driving the availability of cleaner cars in Europe is the strict emissions regulations package put in place by the European Union, which requires automakers to reduce the emissions of their new vehicle fleets by 37.5 percent by 2030.

In contrast, President Trump has spent the bulk of his presidency unsuccessfully trying to roll back Obama-era emissions regulations that are similarly meant to support the adoption of cleaner cars.

Another factor could be that the EQC is only likely to squeeze about 200 miles of range out of its 80kWh battery pack, meaning it offers less range at a higher price than much of its competition.

Tesla has sold hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles in the US, in large part because of the success of the Model 3 sedan. But other automakers have struggled to find similar success with their first EVs. Audi’s only selling a few hundred E-Tron SUVs per month, according to some estimates, while the Jaguar I-Pace’s sales are even lower. General Motors has found better luck selling the more affordable Chevy Bolt; the American automaker typically sells anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 Bolts per month.

Mercedes-Benz isn’t the first car company to withhold an electric car from the US market. Volkswagen has said that its first mass-market EV, the ID 3 hatchback, won’t be coming Stateside at all.

The EQC is only the first of many EVs to come from Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, which have promised to announce 10 all-electric models by 2022.

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