Mercedes-Benz EQ S all-electric luxury sedan due 2020

Mercedes' all-electric luxury sedan is headed to dealerships in just a couple of years time, but the German automaker is taking a different approach from that of its cosseting rivals. Although the company already has a strong-selling full-sized sedan in the shape of the well respected Mercedes-Benz S-Class, it has apparently opted not to use that nameplate for the luxury EV.

That's at odds with the strategy many others in the high-end segment are adopting. Audi, for example, plans to make an all-electric version of its A8 sedan, while Jaguar has an all-electric XJ sedan in the pipeline too. Mercedes, though, will be using an entirely different badge for its car.

"We will have an electric vehicle at the level of the S-Class, no doubt, but it will not be the S-Class," Michael Kelz, a chief engineer at the company, told Autocar. Instead, the vehicle – which Kelz describes as "a luxury, electric car, a top-of-the-line car" – will fall under Mercedes' EQ brand. That's the new lineage created to encompass a variety of all-electric models, so far entirely conceptual.

Indeed, the new car is expected to launch as the Mercedes-Benz EQ S, according to Kelz. Although the current S-Class is available in a hybrid version, its underlying platform isn't set up to accommodate a fully-electric drivetrain. Instead, the EQ S will use a brand new, modular electric architecture, dubbed MEA.

That's likely to be the underpinnings beneath a number of EQ models. Mercedes has already shown off the EQ C, a concept SUV that would be entirely electric, along with the EQ A hatchback. The automaker has committed to having twenty electrified models in its line-up by 2022, though that will span everything from pure electric at one extreme, through to mild hybrid at the other.

The decision to separate the EQ S from the S-Class branding is likely one born out of some degree of caution. The flagship sedan remains a perennial success after multiple generations, with sales for the most recent model up over 25-percent in Q1 2018 versus the same three month period a year ago. Although it's been the test bed for most of Mercedes' more advanced features through the years, including advanced driver-assistance systems that allow the car to pilot itself on highways, it's also arguably the vehicle that appeals to the automaker's most conservative customers.

How that cohort would react to an all-EV car – or, indeed, whether electric vehicle enthusiasts would take to the idea of an S-Class being "environmentally friendly" – is a legitimate question. BMW, too, has taken a similarly cautious route, having said previously that it does not plan to make a pure-electric version of its 7 Series rival to the S-Class. Instead, it will offer a large, luxury sedan in its "BMW i" line-up.

According to Mercedes, we could see the EQ S as soon as 2020, but no later than 2022.