Mercedes-Benz marched past a major milestone on its way to electrification.
The automaker on Monday announced the start of production of the first of its EQ family of full-electric vehicles -- the EQC compact crossover.
The EQC has a starting price in Germany of 71,281 euros ($79,786). It is the first of a fleet of 10 full-electric vehicles Mercedes expects to launch by 2025.
"With the start of production of the Mercedes-Benz EQC, we are turning the switch today -- for the electric mobility of the future," Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz production and supply chain chief, said in a statement.
Mercedes can't flip the electrification switch soon enough.
Tesla dominates the luxury EV market with a trio of high-performance, buzzworthy models. Beyond Tesla, Mercedes faces a wave of coming EV competition from nearly every major automaker.
The EQC is powered by an 80-kilowatt-hour battery. It has a range of 445 km (276 miles) to 471 km (293 miles) on a full charge, based on New European Driving Cycle estimates, Mercedes said.
Two electric motors generate a combined 408 hp, enabling a 0-to-60 mph (97 kph) sprint in 5.1 seconds. To reduce power consumption, the front electric motor is optimized for efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear motor adds sportiness.
Initially, the EQC will be produced in Bremen, Germany, on the same line as the C-class sedan and wagon, as well as the GLC and GLC Coupe.
Production for China is to start this year at the Beijing Benz Automotive joint venture plant in China.
The EQC is not expected to be built in the U.S. -- but two future EVs will be. Mercedes' Vance, Alabama, factory is expected to begin producing an EQE crossover in the second quarter of 2020. U.S. production of an EQS could follow in 2022.
The Alabama factory, which makes the GLS, GLE and GLE Coupe, is undergoing a $1 billion expansion to prepare for the new electric line.
Mercedes parent Daimler has said it expects between 15 and 25 percent of its global sales to be EVs in 2025.
In addition to Mercedes, German automakers BMW, Porsche and Audi are embracing EVs as they look for ways to meet tightening emission standards globally.
The Germans' combined share of the global EV market will top Tesla's to reach 11.8 percent next year, before climbing to about 19 percent three years later, LMC Automotive predicts.
This year, Porsche will launch its 600-hp Taycan electric sedan. BMW expects production of its Vision iNEXT semi-autonomous electric crossover to begin in 2021. Audi will begin delivering the e-tron Quattro crossover this year and will launch two more EVs next year.