Flicking the Switch

“Electric now has a Mercedes.” Yes, but have you seen it?

(C) Media-Daimler

“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.

(c) Media-Daimler

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?

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

20 thoughts on “Flicking the Switch”

  1. Good morning Eóin. Sorry to be critical, but I think you missed the bit where you were to critique the design of the car itself. Allow me to assist:

    “A hideously disjointed and overwrought front end attached to utterly bland, lumpen and derivitave SUV.”

    That should do it…

  2. My mistake, your critique was there all the time, hidden away in the second last paragraph:

    “so numbingly banal, so utterly devoid of substance”

    My only defence for my inattention is not enough coffee yet.

  3. Ha. Wait until that new Beaver Tooth BMW electric monstrosity comes out with the joined up kidneys. Then you’ll all laud the demure design of this car.

    But the Mercedes PR machine is already in overdrive to tell potential owners that the first facelift this Mercedes will get will be “very substantial” to remotely match the look of this EQ to any of the future ones.

    Worst is the very old GLC style dash inside. A few trinkets different here and there and the most apologetic and tiny vents to grace a car ever I think. Not even a dash of rose gold paint can make those runts (especially the tiny outside ones) look anything substantial. Why not at least do something a bit more modern? Even the new A and G have more modern interiors than this car got!

    Anyone used a C or GLC at length? I have and the worst part of this dash is that awful big hole in front of the infotainment controllers. Cup holders reside in there which is fine. But also the USB point from which to power your phone. BUT you cannot close the lid to hide that black hole when a cable snakes out. Nope there is no rubber edge to allow that to happen so I had to always drive with that awful black hole open and staring at me. Same on this EQC (I suspect).

  4. But it will sell – because Mercedes is nothing more than a label. And labels sell, even when attached to nothing of substance.

    1. Yes but will the ugly BMW Beaver Monstrosity sell even though it has a label too? Ugly never sells. Even with a label. The EQC is inoffensive enough that it will sell enough I guess.

    2. ‘ugly never sells’ – that’s what I hoped when I saw the cars that made ugliness fashionable, the horror of the Banglified BMWs. I was proven wrong…

  5. ‘… previously unknown beauty’ !!! I thought I would never be able to breathe again and may have damaged some internal organs such was the pace at which I gasped in shock and disbelief at such audacity. Can they not be prosecuted for such bare faced nerve and lies?

    Such a waste of technology in such a big heavy car. Criminal.

    Still, JLR should be happy; this makes the i-Pace look amazing …

    1. Maybe there is acompetition going on within the company’s senior management, similar to the meeting room game, Bulls**t Bingo, whereby spokesmen get points for making utterly outrageous, nonsensical and pretentious statements? The object of the game is to see just how far you can go before someone in your audience calls you out for the gibberish you’re spouting.

  6. I believe you may well be right, Daniel. The competition alas is never ending and the main prize is a binder less thesaurus with many pages missing. The second is to clean the loo’s with the tongue.

  7. Interesting choice of words, Herr Sinkwitz. In my beloved motherland, “the right amount of revolution” for most people usually equates to nothing happening at all.

    On the other hand: even thinking about a “right amount” in revolutions – per definitionem disruptive events – is the perfect embodiment of the industry’s deeply conservative mindset. The less revolutionary cars became, the more revolutionary the language. Just the right amount of revolution.

  8. It is too easy to critique this design. There is no front storage area under the prominent and expansive bonnet.

    Because cheapness.

    Waldensian wrote re: “Zed’s Dead” on 26 August 2018: “None of the German big three have yet reached their Cimarron moment, but we’re getting close.”

    I think this is it.

  9. Southwest Germany experienced an astounding phenomenon this week: An unusual noise was heard by thousands in the Stuttgart region at irregular intervals. Some of the puzzled residents likened the sound to that of malicious laughter.
    While the noise itself couldn’t be analysed yet, scientists have managed to trace it back and determined the Coventry suburb of Whitley as its place of origin.

  10. I think Daniel summed things up perfectly.

    Maybe if Mercedes reduced their design & marketing language flatulence they’d significantly reduce their GHG emissions?

    1. At some point car designers started to talk about their car design the way critics and third parties do. I have said that before. The other thing is that they seem not to look too closely at the link or lack thereof between the words and the concrate stuff they are supposed to link to.

  11. Well what I learned from this is that Gordo lives in California. Halfway between Stuttgart and the Chinese empire; logic hath no bounds. He’ll have to make sure he’s not subject to a 25% tariff both coming and going on all his worldwide chuntering about.

    Of course Carlsbad is sunshine and food trucks, so a tasty trip to Mariscos German would yield a fish taco awash in orange sauce. Perhaps a Full Metal Burger might suffice in a pinch, followed by dessert from the Beaten Berry Food Truck. For nightime nosh in the sylvan breezes, Phatties serve up mean cuisine and The Tip of Cardiff offers up Mex with a Welsh outlook. And all those are only a few of the dozens of eateries. Inspiration!

    After knocking back a satisfying spread so different from dumplings, Gordo can relax and gaze at downtown San Diego from Carlsbad. Perhaps the inspiration for the EQC’s presence came in a blinding moment of inspiration – take a Hyundai grille and do it right! That’s right. Stretch it this way and that and plonk a giant three-pointed star in the middle. There, done. Now the hard part – writing the words to introduce it to an adoring public.

    1. What kind of dystopia are you describing? It sounds like you are chanelling JG Ballard to describe this place but I fear you are only reporting what is there. I really want to launch a sermon on morality and aesthetics but I won´t.

  12. Great article and bang on! About time somebody pointed out the Emperor’s lack of clothes. A pity Car Design News don’t follow your lead instead of all that sucking up to GW.

  13. Too cool for school.

    Just an illustration. Could the future really be Longer, Lower, Wider?

    Gord’s Gold? Wake up Whitley!

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