Shop Talk Interviews: Stoney Clover Lane

Meet Penn

Penn larocci is a born and raised New Orleanian. After graduating from Tulane University, she lived in NYC for nine years working in sales in marketing at an invest­ment bank. When she missed New Orleans more than she could stand, she moved back home, met her husband and started a family. She’s now raising two rambunctious little boys and spending her free time on envi­ronmental sustainability projects.


If you’re not a car person, things like horsepower, speed and the smell of Italian leather seats evoke zero excitement. For many of us, a car is but a necessary machine to get the job done, like a microwave or refrigerator. I’ve personally always held this sentiment close to heart. In our family, the purchase of an “au-tow-moe-beel” (that’s how my grandfather pronounced it) came with a specific set of non-negotiables. I can still hear my grandfather preaching his money saving sermon as if from a pulpit, “Once you step foot off the lot, your car loses x percent of its value.” Translation being, do not EVER buy a new car. As a family, we had to swear our undying dedication to this car buying tenet to even consider owning one. Such strict rules made for rather lackluster trips to the dealership. There was no excitement-filled tour to explore the lot’s biggest and best offerings. No charismatic sales pitches. No magic! It was all curt, tight-faced negotiations followed by a transaction that all parties felt lukewarm about. The goal was to leave the lot with the oldest, most beat up car, with the least amount of mileage. That was the highest form of victory. To this day, much to the annoyance of my husband, that mentality is still with me. So, you can imagine our surprise, while on a recent trip to Mercedes (at my husband’s insistence) I fell in love with a luxury “au-tow-moe-beel” – a new one. 

As a huge proponent of environmental sustainability, it was the word “electric” that turned my head around. I knew electric vehicles existed but were expensive – thus going against the old family motto. I often felt guilty about driving a gas car, but figured an electric vehicle was too costly and physically too small to fit the entire family. But then, there she was. The Mercedes EQB, a fully electric SUV. Pretty, safe, sustainable and relatively affordable (compared to SUVs of a similar quality). I had to find out more. 

I hunted down Jerry Moisant, President of Benson Motor Company and top sales representative Austin Kemper to find ask a few key questions.

Can you tell us about the suite of Mercedes Electric SUV’s on the market?  There are currently 3 electric SUV options; the EQE, EQB and EQS.

The EQB SUV is the most affordable of the bunch, starting around 52k. It is all-electric, all-wheel-drive, seats up to 7 (with an optional 3rd row) and comes with a digital voice assistant and MB Navigation. The front seats can be heated, ventilated and the steering wheel, console screens offer intuitive touch controls. It averages around 245 miles per charge. 

The EQE SUV gets up to 289 miles per charge, features active ambient lighting that can project warning icons on the pavement or illuminate alerts in the cabin. The front seats can warm you, keep you cool, and even provide a massage. The rear seats can be heated and folded down in three sections. And the sound inside the car is spectacular. The 3D Surround Sound with Dolby Atmos® can be tailored to your specific preferences.

The EQS SUV is the premium class. It offers 305 miles per charge and seating for up to 7 with an optional third row. The steering wheel and console screen offer intuitive touch controls with multiple screens in a 56-inch span of high-tech glass. The vehicle also offers hands-free parking and an extensive suite of other driving assists. After you park, it can remind you if there’s a pet or child in the vehicle and even take photos for you if it’s bumped by another car. The interior boasts heated and ventilated front seats with a massage option, custom aromas and ambient lighting. The second row can even be outfitted with wireless charging and a removable tablet in the armrest. 

How do you charge them?  In addition to using the 60,000 and growing public charge points nationwide, we highly recommend you buy and install dedicated portals for your home. The ChargePoint chargers are designed for easy purchase and installation in a home/garage 240 V power source. They’re worth the added cost for convenience’s sake as New Orleans is not as up to date with charging stations as it could be. 

What sets the Mercedes electric vehicle apart from its competitors?  Mercedes did not rush the creation of its EV’s. The brand is meticulous about luxury and safety and there have been no compromises when it comes to those things. We still feel like we have the most luxurious, smooth driving, safe car on the market and now it’s electric. Also, the sound system in the EQE and EQS is out of this world! If you like music, you will never want to leave the car. But, when you want to relax, the vehicle itself is supremely quiet, with customizable mood lighting. It just feels like a 5-star experience all around.