Opinionated at any speed . . . Silvio Calabi

Mercedes-AMG EQS Sedan

Wed, 12/14/2022 - 8:30am

While my wife was at her appointment in Portland, I went to refuel—recharge the car’s battery bank, that is. According to my app, there were three charging points within a mile. Piece of cake! What range anxiety? But the first one was a Tesla charger, and this is not a Tesla, and the other two were either hidden underground somehow or hadn’t yet been built. So what now? Do I drive all over the city looking farther and farther afield while my range steadily shrinks or.... ?

Our EV infrastructure is being built out at an impressive pace, but transitions can be tough. Early adopters of horseless carriages probably faced similar challenges: stables and watering troughs everywhere, but I need a gas pump! With about 130 miles of range indicated (out of some 270 in total) and just 90 miles to get home, I threw caution to the winds and set off.

No problems, although by the time we pulled back into the driveway the car was reminding me, in its polite but insistent Germanic way, that the end was in sight. No worries! I simply plugged the car into an outlet in the garage. It was a Friday afternoon and, according to the onboard computer, the batteries would be fully recharged by...  the following Wednesday. Egad.

This is why EV owners install high-speed Level II or III chargers. I would have done so by now myself, even though I don’t yet own an EV (there’s a spot in my garage for one someday), but the industry hasn’t yet adopted a standard technology for all electric vehicles. Yes, transitions can be challenging.

This particular EV can be a challenge, too—not to drive (it’s an S-Class Mercedes, a road warrior’s dream), but simply to learn to operate.

At first, it’s almost intimidating: Look at all these lights and buttons—the entire dashboard, from door to door, is a digital screen! And it costs $160,000! I’m afraid to touch anything! But Andrew at M-B USA was patient with me, and now I know how to adjust the maximum charge, why the cabin wasn’t heating properly and how to change the regenerative-braking level. Once a newbie gets halfway up the learning curve, hey, this thing is pretty cool!

If not outright heart-stopping, eye-watering awesome. Not only is this the first fully electric top-of-the-range Benz, but it is also an AMG version thereof: 649 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque, with momentary peaks of 751 horses and 752 torques. Anyone who scoffs is welcome to dip a toe into the accelerator—while holding on with both hands and looking straight ahead down a clear road—to find out exactly what this means. Imagine a Saturn V rocket blasting off from Cape Canaveral in near silence. It’s almost eerie.

Like it or not, electric vehicles are our foreseeable future. At some not-too-distant time, the number of charging points will equal and eventually outnumber gas pumps, and then the range-anxiety shoe will be on the other foot. Meanwhile, battery technology and EV mileage will steadily improve, and buyers will have more and more choices at ever-wider price ranges. Big Mercedes sedans, of course, will always be costly, but they show us the way. No doubt world leaders will soon be arriving at climate summits in the EQS, having traded in their old carbon-spewing S580s and Maybachs to set an example.