Last year, Mercedes confirmed that it will build the EQA at its plant in Hambach, France, where the electric Smart models are currently made, following an investment of €500 million (about £438m).

The new entry point of the Mercedes EQ electric car sub-brand will go on sale in 2020. Set to offer a 249-mile range and be priced to directly rival the £34,075 BMW i3, the EQA will be part of a 10-car EQ line-up due in showrooms by 2022.

Before stepping down as Mercedes boss, Dieter Zetsche said: “The EQ line-up will cover different vehicles and one of them will be a compact car.”

Mercedes is pushing to enhance the productivity of its global plant network, with the Hambach site becoming specialised in EVs. This will help the brand to increase its EV production output without affecting the supply of petrol and diesel models.

Mercedes production chief Markus Schäfer said the Smart plant will grow to “become a part of our global compact car production network, with the lead plant in Rastatt, Germany”. 

Britta Seeger, Mercedes sales and marketing boss, said: “This EQ will be the first Mercedes model ever built in France.”

Zetsche said last year that Mercedes’s push for electrification is “gathering pace” and that “the EQA proves that we’re serious about introducing electric mobility throughout the portfolio”.

The starting point for the EQA is a new electric vehicle platform developed by Mercedes for use in all upcoming EQ models. Known internally by the codename EVA (electric vehicle architecture), it has been conceived to allow the new model to be built alongside Mercedes’ conventional compact car models in the same factories that produce the A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA.

The flexible platform is planned to support either front-, rear- or four-wheel drive, with either one or two electric motors and a scalable battery mounted low down within its flat floor structure, operating on an 800V electrical system that can provide rapid charging.  

 

The Concept EQA holds clues to the final make-up of the production-spec model. As with the EQC concept, an illuminated black panel incorporating distinctively styled laser-fibre headlights is used up front, ensuring the Concept EQA instantly stands out from the existing range of compact Mercedes models.