BERLIN—Mercedes-Benz plans to add a battery-powered version of the classic G-class off-road SUV.
An all-electric version of the G class will help Mercedes meet future CO2 emissions regulations. It also could help to secure the model's future at a time when environmentalists are targeting heavy, less efficient SUVs with high emissions.
The most powerful AMG version of the G class has CO2 emissions as high as 304 grams per kilometer.
Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius, speaking at Automobilwoche Congress on Nov. 7, said there will be a zero-emissions version of the G class. Automobilwoche is a sibling publication of Automotive News.
"We will electrify the G class and significantly improve the CO2 balance of the powertrain when there is a model upgrading," Kallenius said.
The rugged, boxy-styled G class has changed little since the body-on-frame SUV was introduced in 1979. It is built by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria.
The latest G class, which is bigger, lighter and more luxurious than its predecessor, was introduced at the 2018 Detroit auto show. The U.S. is the biggest market for the G class.
The future of the G class has been in doubt a number of times during its life because of its very niche appeal, but Kallenius indicated that it has a long future under his leadership.
"In the past, there were discussions whether we should eliminate the model. The way I see things now I would say the last Mercedes to be built will be a G class," Kallenius said.
Kallenius gave no details of the timing of the electric G class launch nor any information about the drivetrain.
The electric G class is likely to use the EQ badge that Mercedes uses on battery-powered vehicles such as the EQC compact crossover.
Austrian company Kreisel Electric already has modified a G class with an electric powertrain for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a native of Graz.