Over a coffee at the Coochin Creek high-speed chargers, Rick told me why he bought an electric Mercedes AMG EQE53. “We had a Plaid Model X (and a base Model Y) on order when Tesla decided not to make RHD S & X. I was in the US at the time and began looking at high-end alternatives to purchase when we returned to Australia. I drove most of the German options available here including Porsche, BMW, Mercedes & Audi. Of them, Mercedes had the best attributes for me. I didn’t like the BMW’s design or user experience, the Porsche’s two-speed gearbox drove me a little nuts with its hesitation, and the Audi was just bland. All the US dealers were actually quite helpful even though they couldn’t sell me a car.”
Rick and his wife picked up their new EVs when they returned to live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast after many years in Texas. With an international career as a management consultant to the energy sector (renewable and fossil fuels), Rick can base himself anywhere and then travel as needs be. His Australian wife is happy to be home. Rick specialises in keeping companies alive in adverse economic conditions such as when government policy changes. The energy industry has seen a great deal of this.
In the US, Rick was based in Texas and said many of his fellow Texans were buying EVs, not to mitigate global climate change but because the air quality, particularly in Dallas/Fort Worth, was poor. EV penetration has doubled in Texas in the past 2 years in an effort to reduce the pollutants from tailpipe emissions that get trapped by the heat, humidity, and topography of the area. Breathing is very important to people. (And, also, EVs are fun and cool.)
“The electric Mercedes EQE starts around $140,000 AUD. Pricing is set by Mercedes-Benz Australia and you can buy the car either online or in-store. I bought online and that experience is about the same as Tesla — except you generally don’t build the car — you pick from the nationwide inventory and take delivery at the retailer you choose. I selected the Mercedes-AMG EQE53, which is the performance model. Its pricing is around $240,000 AUD. The Model X Plaid was going to be $250,000 AUD.”
So, the Tesla Model X Plaid and the Mercedes-Benz EQE53 have comparable pricing. “For the extra $100K cost of the EQE53, you get all of the options available in Australia, including the massive side-to-side three-screen Hyperscreen, larger motors that produce a 0-100 km/h of 3.3 seconds and some other AMG-exclusive trim & software.” I must admit, when I sat in the absolute luxury of the Mercedes-Benz this morning and then moved to my Tesla Model 3, it looked poverty stricken by comparison. The dash made me feel like I was in an iMax theatre. The fit and finish were top-shelf Mercedes-Benz.
“The range on the base electric Mercedes model is claimed at 600+ km. On the all-wheel drive models, they claim 500 km on the 90kWh battery. I think real-world range is closer to 430 km. In 2024, the front motor design has changed to give all EQEs the claimed 600+ km mileage.”
Rick charges his Mercedes-Benz EQE53 and Tesla Model Y at home in Australia from a gen-3 Tesla destination charger. He tells me that: “In the US, Tesla basically has the only reliable nationwide charging network and we have done several 100,000 km of cross-country driving in our Tesla using Superchargers with occasional use at Electrify America and other DCFC networks. It’s obvious why North America has adopted NACS. In Australia, the story is different. The Tesla network is superior, but only marginally so and we’ve turned to always using PlugShare to check out other options when we’re driving the Model Y. Anyway, the Mercedes navigation and charging system is excellent. It plans for charging on the route and considers all available charging options prioritizing by charge speed, distance off route and current availability to minimize charging time. The car charges at a max speed of 170 kW and takes 30 minutes to go from 10–80%.”
The Mercedes-Benz delivery experience was a little different to that provided by Tesla: “We chose delivery at Mercedes-Benz Sunshine Coast in Maroochydore. We were assigned Klarah Cassar-Tan to manage the delivery. She did a great job answering our questions and keeping us up-to-date as we waited for the car to clear customs & biosecurity in Sydney. It arrived at Maroochydore, Queensland in late-July and we had what I think of as a typical high-end car delivery experience. We had about an hour at the retailer going through the features with Klarah before finally setting off on our own. The Model Y was delivered in Brisbane a week later and was a basic experience — we got friendly help pairing our phones to the car, got a few questions answered, and we were on our way.
“The electric Mercedes EQE is a heavy car (2500 kg) with surprising power, great suspension and a very sure feel in any conditions. I enjoy driving it as much as our first Tesla, a 2012 P85 that we bought used in 2014, but to be sure the Mercedes has what I think of as superior build quality & materials. The seat comfort is more to my liking and it can cool the seat, which is awesome! It’s quiet, doesn’t have any rattles, and gives an excellent experience whether driving for fun or commuting. The Model Y has the best build quality of any Tesla we’ve owned since the original P85. It feels solid.
“The Mercedes MBUX (Mercedes Benz User Experience) is a completely different philosophy than Tesla. There are lots of buttons, all designed to help the driver keep hands on wheel and eyes on road. Most features can be performed either with the buttons and the remaining through the voice assistant. But to be sure, it’s a very different experience than Tesla. After almost ten years of mostly driving Teslas, it took a few hours sitting with the car to find all the settings and get them configured the way I want. On top of that, the screens in front of the driver as well as the head-up display can be customized for the current driving need, whether that’s navigation, selecting music or looking at the car’s telemetry. Oh, and there’s CarPlay & Android Auto that are well integrated and mainly stay in the background unless you need them. You can use the Mercedes navigation system or Apple’s (or Waze for that matter) and the car displays any of them properly. I like being able to use the Zoom app for my conference calls and to be able to control them without having to touch my phone.”
“The Mercedes has a plethora of driver assistance features, from collision avoidance, to adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, to parking space monitoring & parking assistance. They all work well & some are superior to Tesla’s system — in particular, there are fewer false alerts in cruise control. It doesn’t have anything like FSD. I have about 60K km experience with FSD beta in the US and I miss some of that functionality, especially on the highway, where I found the system rock-solid aside from the occasional false alerts. Aside from demoing the system, I never used FSD on city streets, as it was basically unusable without constant intervention.”
The Mercedes-Benz and Tesla apps offer similar functionality. The electric Mercedes has a range map that estimates how far the car can travel on its current charge. “The EQE has a five-star Euro NCAP rating and scores right behind Tesla Model Y & S among EVs in the overall ratings. (Fourth place among all cars. A petrol-powered Lexus NX snuck into the third spot.)
“I don’t think many people are buying the EQE for its environmental credentials, but the car does have some interesting features, including being built from mostly recycled metal in a carbon-neutral factory. It has a lot of leather in the higher trim levels, but fabric is an optional material.”
There are some things about the EQE53 that annoy Rick. He lists the following: “There’s a Start/Stop button and you actually need to stop the car or you get an alert when you try to get out. Some software updates are OTA, but the major ones seem to require service and you can’t just request them — you need to have a service issue that requires the upgrade. There is no frunk (and no HEPA filter, which is ostensibly the reason for no frunk, but it’s only available for LHD vehicles). Mandatory service (no idea what will be done then). The dashcam has to be enabled for each drive. Some features are mysteriously missing from Australian cars (such as the HEPA filter, seat massage, a reduced number of speakers in the sound system, noise reduction in the glass along with some online services not offered in Australia). Some parts of the UX are designed for LHD cars and things like confirmations and close boxes require a long reach to the top left of the screen.”
When we had the opportunity to sit in the car, Majella noticed that the only cameras that recorded were for the forward facing dashcam.
Rick belongs to both the Mercedes-Benz Club Australia and Tesla Owners Club of Australia groups. “We have been to fun local events. We haven’t begun bringing the Tesla to Mercedes events (or vice versa) yet.” He has promised me that he will provide feedback of the car owners’ reactions to the electric Mercedes — I think that would make a great follow-up article.
The Sunshine Coast of Queensland with wide open spaces and fresh sea breezes is a far cry from smoggy Dallas–Fort Worth. Welcome home, and thanks for reducing your tailpipe emissions!
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