Mercedes-Benz is making a big push for EVs worldwide, and they already have a wide range of full-electric vehicles. They’re all part of the EQ family – from the EQA up to the EQS. There’s effectively a Mercedes EV for each segment (with the G-Class being the sole exception for the time being). But interestingly, we have yet to see any of the EQ models in the market.
For reference, Audi Philippines has already announced plans to launch the e-tron locally. It’s the same story with BMW Philippines for the all-electric i Models. Meanwhile, Porsche Philippines is already selling the Taycan. However, Mercedes-Benz Philippines has yet to offer any.
We spoke with Mercedes-Benz distributor Auto Nation Group (ANG) Senior Product Manager Benjamin Bautista, and he gave us a rundown for the delay of their EVs in the country. According to Bautista, there are several factors as to why there are no Mercedes-Benz EVs in the country yet. One of those factors, as you guessed it, is the lack of EV infrastructure.
The lack of EV infrastructure has been one of the biggest reasons why EVs took so long before they arrived. Even to this day, there isn’t enough infrastructure around the country. Most, if not all, of the charging stations, are located within Metro Manila meaning your radius is limited. That makes EVs not too suited to go out of town for long-distance trips. It’s not like owners can bring the charging box that comes with the cars with them, and a mobile EV charger takes an excruciatingly long time to get it done.
Yes, EVs have around 400-500 km of range in a single charge. But would you really go on a trip to Baguio in one knowing there are no charging stations there? Or, would you instead use a vehicle with a diesel/gasoline engine knowing there are countless fuel stations everywhere? Just food for thought.
Another factor is the cost. The lack of government incentives has driven the cost of EVs high. That's why the Nissan Leaf costs roughly PHP 2.8 million when it is a lot cheaper in other countries. As for luxury models, the Taycan retails for around PHP 9 million for the entry-level variant.
Bautista adds that having more incentives would drive the costs down and make EVs more accessible to everyone. Full-EVs are the only models exempt from the excise tax, while hybrids benefit from a 50% discount. Despite that, it’s still not a big discount since there are other taxes that they have to pay like import duty, which is about 30% unless the EV is made in Thailand. For example, Bautista says that the E-Class they are offering now starts at PHP 3.9 million, but a plug-in hybrid variant would retail for around PHP 8-9 million. Let’s be honest, you’d probably buy an S-Class at that price point instead of a plug-in hybrid E-Class, right?
Ultimately it’s the Philippine government that has the power to push for EV incentives and to accelerate the development of infrastructure at the same time. They also have to prepare for everything that EVs come with, such as what to do with the used lithium batteries.
It's not like there's no demand either. Bautista says several customers have already made inquires about all-electric Mercedes models. But he believes that now isn’t the right time for their EVs in the Philippines, especially with the pandemic and lack of supply. It would be easy for them to bring in an all-electric EQ model like the EQC and sell it to customers. However, bringing in an EV and selling it is only the first step. He says there needs to be a long-term comprehensive plan for them.
But, they did say Mercedes-Benz Philippines will slowly offer more electrified models in the country. It will start with the all-new S-Class later this year, which will come with a mild-hybrid system called EQ Boost. Following the debut of mild-hybrids, we’ll then see plug-in hybrid Mercedes models. Down the line, we'll likely see models from the all-electric EQ family here. For now, though, don't expect anything unless the government makes some big changes soon.