Mercedes & Me

  • January 20, 2024

It’s a good thing I don’t have the Mercedes EV I was supposed to have been sent this week to test drive – because I wouldn’t be able to drive it much. Because it’s 11 degrees outside. EVs don’t go very far in that kind of cold – and they take even longer to get going again, because of all the charge they burn through trying to keep themselves warm.

Not the cabin. Not you.

Their delicate (and vital to their operability) battery pack. It must be kept warm so that it can be charged. But it takes so much energy to keep the battery warm when it’s 11 degrees outside that it consumes charge as it’s being charged. Plus the charge involved in keeping you warm.

It’s what you might call net zero. Or something like that.

It’s akin to pumping gas into a car with a quarter-sized hole in the tank. Except the hole can be patched – and the problem fixed.

I had lots of problems with the Mercedes EV I test drove in similar cold about a year ago, about which I posted several videos – including one taken at a not-so-fast public charger that would not accept my charge card. This left us sitting in a rapidly discharging EV on a bitterly cold day, which isn’t exactly a luxury experience.

And so I wrote – and video’d.

Apparently, Mercedes did not like what I wrote – and video’d. My press loans from Mercedes have been cancelled. Supposedly, because I live outside the allowable delivery range for press loans. But I have lived where I live for 20 years and have been getting Benz press car loans for all of those years, until just now.

Benz tells me:

“We’ve recently reevaluated press fleet processes and policies across all markets, which includes a necessary reduction in mileage for all areas of car logistics. We understand this change is disappointing, however, we appreciate your understanding and will keep you in mind should this policy change in the future.”

And so I asked: “Can you please tell me the distance limit for MB press car loans?” I asked because it would then be possible for me to bridge that gap – assuming “mileage” is indeed the issue.

Benz replied: “That is not something we wish to discuss.”

Perhaps because of what I discussed?

So wrote a goodby letter to Mercedes, which I am posting for the general edification. I do not believe that “mileage” has anything to do with my being cancelled by Mercedes. I believe it has everything to do with Mercedes being “all in” on “electrification” and my not being “all in.”

Here is what I wrote:

Hi Andrew,

I’m writing again because I haven’t received a reply to my last email about the delivery distance issue. 

You mentioned (in an earlier email) that this is “not something we wish to discuss.” 

But why? 

Why is it a problem to tell me (or any journalist) that it is necessary to live “x” distance (and no farther) from the press pool in order to get MB press vehicles to test drive for purposes of writing reviews? How are we supposed to be able to arrange things so as to not fall outside of the allowable distance?

 I’ve been a car journalist for about 30 years now and this sort of issue has never come up before. 

I’m wanting to understand the situation. But I can’t understand it if I don’t know specifics. 

In the absence of them, it makes me think that there is another issue in play, as I have already said I suspect there is. If there is, I wish you would let me know what it is so that I can respond to it. 

So that I can make sense of this. 

My readership is substantial. It makes no sense (to me) that MB would not want a journalist with my reach covering MB vehicles. Unless MB is unhappy about the way I have covered them. 

This has never been an issue in the past, however. 

My suspicion is that there is unhappiness about my coverage of EVs, which I know MB has committed to making exclusively within just a few years from now. It may be that MB is not comfortable with my critiques of the pushing of EVs (as distinct from the EVs, themselves) via the various regulations that are making it all-but-impossible for the industry to make vehicles that aren’t battery-powered. MB may be wanting only favorable coverage of battery-powered cars – and wanting to work only with journalists friendly toward the push to “electrify” everything, irrespective of market demand.

I’ve tried to be fair in my coverage of the EV issue; to state the facts and the good as well as the bad. But I am not and refuse to be a cheerleader for the pushing of EVs on people and the pushing of the manufacturers to make nothing but. I also believe – and have written – that this push to “electrify” everything will tend to eliminate any meaningful distinctions between makes/models, especially those made by premium brands such as MB. One battery powered device being pretty much the same as any other battery powered device.

Ray-o-Vac vs. Duracell. 

It is for precisely that reason that I have written with gusto about MB vehicles that are not devices – because they are powered by uniquely MB engines such as the new straight six, as here. 

I think what’s happening as regards the force-feeding of EVs is nothing less than destructive and tragic. And I suspect my writing-out-loud about it has led to the current situation rather than the distance situation.  

I hope you’ll reply to this, but if not I understand.

-Eric 

I never got a reply. And you can probably guess why.

The good news is I’m not driving a battery powered device this week. And that means I’ll be able to drive – even though it is 11 degrees outside.

. . .

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