Mercedes to go all-electric in Singapore by 2030

The German brand is the first to set a deadline to stop selling combustion cars in the Republic; Daimler's South-east Asia CEO is bullish on EVs for a number of reasons

Sep 17, 2021

THE new Mercedes in town might be its smallest battery-powered car, but it signals a huge change for the brand, as it prepares to go all-electric here in just nine years from now.

Mercedes-Benz Singapore launched the EQA 250 on Thursday, with prices starting at S$222,888 with Certificate of Entitlement for the compact crossover.

The EQA is the second model by the all-electric Mercedes-EQ label.

It joins the larger EQC, which debuted in June.

Three more cars from Mercedes-EQ are set for launch here next year as parent company Daimler picks up the pace on its plans to decarbonise.

The company has said it wants to reach full carbon neutrality by 2039, a goal that includes the emissions from its cars but also its factories and other operations.

Outlining Mercedes' electric car plans globally, Claudius Steinhoff, the president and chief executive officer of Daimler's regional office, said: "In 2022, we will have an electric vehicle (EV) in every segment we are currently serving. In 2025, we will have an electric model for every car line we make."

That year, all newly-launched Mercedes-Benz cars will be electric-only, a move that effectively begins the phase-out of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars.

"By 2030, we will be ready to become 100 per cent electric where market conditions allow. This is on a global level. For Singapore, we are very confident that the market conditions will allow it. We are getting ready to become 100 per cent electric in Singapore by 2030," Mr Steinhoff said.

His statement makes Mercedes the first car brand in Singapore to declare a deadline to end sales of combustion models.

But within a similar timeframe, a number of car brands will be pure-electric here by default, having stated their own deadlines to stop producing ICE cars.

Luxury carmaker Bentley Motors is planning to go all-electric by 2030, for example, while BMW Group's Mini line of compact cars is also set to have a battery-only lineup early next decade.

Jaguar Land Rover has a more ambitious target to become an all-electric carmaker by 2025.

Alistair Scott, the managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Asia-Pacific, said that as a country, Singapore is a good candidate for a rapid shift to EVs.

"As it stands right now, much of the EV opportunity really is limited to people who live in landed properties, but absolutely, the government has developed a long-term plan that will present an infrastructure that is suitable for everybody," he said.

"By 2025 we will develop significantly from a vehicle perspective, and Singapore, arguably, is one of the best-positioned places in the world to develop and deliver a solid EV strategy."

German premium brand Audi has not set a deadline to go full-electric here, but Audi Singapore managing director Markus Schuster said its EV transition is already underway.

"Audi announced in June this year that we will only be launching new models with electric drive systems from 2026. To get there we have been progressively introducing fully electric models under the 'e-tron' name," he said.

Mercedes' arch rival BMW is more circumspect about its own EV target in Singapore. Its strategy is to let customers choose from parallel lines of ICE, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which are electric cars with a combustion engine for long distances.

"While the BMW Group expects fully electric cars to account for at least 50 per cent of its global sales by 2030, and Mini will have an all-electric product portfolio by the early 2030s, we still believe in providing customers the power of choice," said Preeti Gupta, the corporate affairs director and sustainability lead for BMW Asia.

"This strategy takes into account that our customers across the globe have different mobility demands, and ultimately lets them decide what they want based on their lifestyle, where they live, and the infrastructure they have to support them," she said.

Mr Steinhoff said plug-in cars are also relevant to Mercedes' strategy here, and admitted that the goal to go all-electric by 2030 has not been set in stone, but he is bullish on EVs for a number of reasons.

"Seeing what is part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, seeing how the customer interest is changing and the perception is changing, and seeing what products we have in the pipeline, I am very confident that we will be at around 100 per cent," he said.

"But if you ask me on Dec 31, 2029, and I tell you we are at 89 per cent (electric), I have no problem with that."

He also said he has seen a change in consumer attitudes in the year that he has lived in Singapore.

"What has happened in only one year is crazy, and now there's so much talk in the town about electric vehicles," he added. "I think we should not underestimate what can change in a very short period of time."