“Electric now has a Mercedes.” Yes, but have you seen it?
“EQ or Electric Intelligence by Mercedes-Benz is our electric mobility brand. EQ represents ‘Emotion and Intelligence’, two Mercedes brand values. It comprises of all essential aspects related to customer-focused electric mobility and goes beyond the vehicle itself.” Mercedes-Benz.
A recent conversation with an industry insider prompted an observation that at Driven to Write, we tend to give Mercedes-Benz’s Chief Creative Officer a bit of a hard time. In this individual’s not entirely unwarranted view, we have a tendency (as one might say in football parlance) to play the man and not the ball.
Point taken and duly noted, but I would say in our defence (and staying with the footballing analogy here) that such is the open goal that yawns from Mr. Wagener’s words and actions, it’s perhaps fortuitous that Daimler AG’s creative lynchpin has not put himself forward to supplant the embattled Manuel Neuer as goalkeeper for the German national team.
We ask too much of Mr. Wagener of course, who oversees Mercedes-Benz’s design hubs in Germany, Italy, and China from his (former Chrysler) design centre in Carlsbad, 80-miles South of Los Angeles. After all, the creator of Sensual Purity® has a job to do in the Californian sunshine – one he fulfils to the best of his ability.
Anyway, enough of Gorden, there is a new Mercedes-Benz electric crossover product to critique. Frankly, I’d rather not, but I wouldn’t wish to disappoint our readers. But firstly, perhaps somebody can clear something up? Exactly what is EQ supposed to represent? ‘Electric Intelligence’ or Emotion and Intelligence? Because even Mercedes themselves appear unsure about the matter. Perhaps they’re hedging their bets.
“Electric now has a Mercedes“, sayeth the PR machine and another layer of the English language dies a needless and lonely death. Mercedes-Benz marketers go on (they would, wouldn’t they), to say, “The EQ brand gives an insight into the future, and is shaped by an avant-garde, distinct look – Progressive Luxury. This arises from the combination of a previously unknown beauty, the conscious clash of digital and analogue elements as well as the seamless merging of intuitive and physical design.”
It’s one thing having to grind one’s teeth to the gums in response to piffle of this magnitude, quite another having to make visual contact with the car itself, which to these eyes at least is banality, on toast. Mercedes I see is making much of the fact that the EQC is intended to look as it does as a result of a carefully calibrated incremental shift; Mercedes interior design chief, Hartmut Sinkwitz telling Autocar, “ We felt this is the right amount of revolution to start with for this car. You will see more with other EQ models.” Which does sound somewhat apologetic, would you not agree? Perhaps they’re hedging their bets.
But this is the inventor of the motor car, the carmaker the industry looks towards to set the agenda, to lead. And they serve us this? What is abundantly clear however is the fact that Mercedes are no longer designing for us – they have a very different market in mind, one with vastly different aspirations and expectations. One where Mercedes-Benz under the leadership of Dr. Dieter Zetsche, has seen the World’s oldest car manufacturer jettison all remaining vestiges of its former identity for fast profits, growth at all costs and the maximisation of shareholder value.
Because as much as we may direct our gimlet eye and inflammatory wit in Mr. Wagener’s direction, he is merely a satellite orbiting Daimler’s be-‘tasched CEO. Dieter Zetsche’s career arc, from the helm of Chrysler during the ill-starred ‘merger of equals’, through his appearances in a toe-curling series of “Ask ‘Dr. Zee‘ TV advertisements, to his ascension to the top job at Mercedesstraße in the wake of Jürgen Schrempp’s 2005 fall, has been stellar, and one imagines, involved him dodging a good deal of furniture – both of the static and flying variety.
The mastermind of Daimler AG’s current positioning, visual identity and commercial success, he may not have started Mercedes-Benz’s messy descent from Mount Olympus, but the current unstoppable slide into vacuity is his and his alone. Because while it’s relatively easy to see what both he and his Essen sidekick are aiming for, the level to which the whole pseudo-Silicon Valley shtick falls short of even basic credibility speaks volumes about the Daimler Chairman’s taste and judgement.
Should any of this matter? It probably wouldn’t if the product wasn’t so numbingly banal, so utterly devoid of substance. Is this the best they can come up with? Perhaps they’re hedging their bets.
“We’re flicking the switch”, sayeth the fragrant Dr. Z, who is believed to be stepping down next year. Tell you what, Dieter – flick it off on your way out, will you?