Mercedes has pledged to go fully electric by 2030 "where market conditions allow." To get there, it's working on more affordable EVs to slot below the EQE and EQS as well as their SUV equivalents. The Concept CLA-Class will morph into a zero-emission saloon in 2024 and will be followed in 2025 by this – the electric C-Class.

Spied testing for the very first time, Mercedes' belated answer to the BMW i4 had full camo attire to hide what looks to be the production body. However, those are definitely not the final headlights and taillights. In addition, we believe the door handles sticking out from the body are fake. Logic tells us the C-Class EV will have handles flush with the body to enable a smooth profile for extra miles of range.

Mercedes C-Class EV first spy photos

Interestingly, the C-Class EV doesn't seem to be significantly larger than the electric CLA prototypes spied testing in recent months. The two models are expected to ride on different platforms. The former will use a dedicated EV architecture (known as MB.EA) while the latter is going to sit on a platform that also supports combustion engines (known as MMA).

Although the electric C-Class saloon is fully draped in camouflage, it's already evident that it won’t look as bulbous as the bigger EQE and EQS. It appears to have a sharper design and is likely to incorporate some of the aero trickery we saw on the Vision EQXX concept car. It will be interesting to find out whether that's a traditional boot lid or a more practical tailgate like the BMW i4 has.

By the time the C-Class EV hits the market, it'll have to face another luxury electric saloon from Bavaria. The Neue Klasse platform debuting in 2025 will underpin a BMW i3 saloon (name not confirmed) and the next-generation iX3, which will go up against the future EQC crossover.

Using the current nomenclature, it would make sense for this electric saloon to go by the name of EQC while its high-riding equivalent would be renamed EQC SUV. However, rumour has it Mercedes plans a gradual retirement of "EQ" branding from 2024. The first EV with a fresh name is expected to be the electric G-Class.