Last week, there were some rumors on the internet and on some news services that the Mercedes EQC was a flop. There was no market for it because in its home market of Germany only 55 vehicles were delivered by November.
In a discussion with a Mercedes representative at the motor show “Salon de Brussel,” it was explained to me that only a handful of preliminary vehicles were produced. The factory was still in startup mode, with some challenges to solve.
I don’t think any of our readers have forgotten Tesla’s “production hell.” What many don’t know, is that most other carmakers have a similar experience. Partly, this is hidden because they have learned to give themselves some room between internal start of production planning and public start of deliveries. Another reason for less news about the struggles the legacy carmakers have with the start of production of electric vehicles is that it is just not news. Not that many people care.
- The Bolt was delayed about half a year and was never launched as a global model.
- Audi missed out on selling about 5,000 extra cars in the 2018 Dutch end-of-incentive rush in which Jaguar and Tesla made big bucks.
- Jaguar was, after half a year of minimal production, just in time for that Dutch gold mine.
- Volkswagen is on schedule with the production of the ID.3, except for the software.
- Even veteran Nissan is half a year late with the 62 kWh LEAF in Europe.
Back to Mercedes, what exactly the problems are is not clear to me. But the problem is not lack of demand — the order books are well filled, as was made very clear to me. I think the rumor of no demand was born out of the American perspective on auto sales and demand.
In the USA, a car is first put on a dealer’s lot, and then sold.
In Europe, a car is first sold, and then production is planned.
As an example, when I ordered my new Renault ZOE in the beginning of November, there were just a few unallocated cars in the production planning that could be delivered before the end of 2019. Yep, I am lucky to be one of the beneficiaries of the 2019 incentive. There was no white one, my first choice, but a light blue one was available on December 16. There were all in all just a few dozen of the December production run not allocated. Now I have a blue one with a Bose sound system (I never have the radio on) and leather interior (I prefer cloth). To get the car to my specifications, I would have had to wait two or three months longer.
In the USA, the monthly sales numbers are a reflection of that month’s demand.
In Europe, the monthly delivery numbers are completely devoid of demand.