Mercedes-Benz Aims To Improve America’s Charging Experience

Mercedes-Benz Charging Hubs: Worth the Hype?

To encourage the adoption of electronic vehicles, companies must ensure that their products are superior to older models in terms of luxury, comfort, and performance. This is accurately demonstrated by Mercedes’ AMG EQE SUV which outperforms its predecessor, the SLS AMG, whilst also coming equipped with the Hyperscreen; a high-tech mammoth display exclusive to luxury electric cars. Despite this, the path to public recharging leaves more to be desired.

No question, at-home charging is handy and uncomplicated; however, it makes the decision of buying an EV that much more complicated. Trying to charge up a $100,000 Mercedes in a run-down terminal late at night near heaps of junk and snow tucked in back of a Walmart hardly captures the grandeur befitting the Silver Arrow label for its devotees.

To tackle this issue, Mercedes-Benz has undertaken a unique move among internationally reputable car-makers, coming into the electrical charging market in North America- and it is not some prospect which might possibly be realityany time in the future.

Mercedes is presently debuting this high-tech system, and they just founded their inaugural port at their North American base close to Atlanta. For that reason, when the auto manufacturer requested InsideEVs to evaluate their fresh charging posts, we of course agreed.

Entering the energy-fuelling industry is something fresh and relatively new. In 2012, Tesla inaugurated its first charging station in the USA which transpires to be a prudent move for the emerging automaker; now their Superchargers have gone planetary, bullet-proof and are practically equated to electric power recharging. To illustrate, Audi formulated its prototypical loading centre in December 2021, with following hubs coming into operation in November of 2022. Still, both Tesla and Audi are exceptions to the rule. Generally speaking, manufacturers from the West don’t get involved in constructing infrastructure for EV recharging. (It’s worth noting that they never intended to contrive gas stations either, and nobody seemed willing to back Toyota’s money-demanding design for hydrogen.)

When Mercedes-Benz, a business which has been creating some of the most unforgettable luxury cars in its 97 years, resolved to and a billion dollars through a join venture for expanding charging stations, I had numerous queries as to why such an unconventional decision had been made.

During our visit, I had the chance to have a conversation with Franz Reiner, the Chairman of the Management Board of Mercedes-Benz. I asked him about the reasons behind their decision to enter the charging space. He replied, “We understand the worries of customers when they buy an electric car. They are concerned about where they can charge it, how long it will take to charge, and where the charging station is located. That’s why we decided that if we want to revolutionize the industry, we have to be part of the entire system, and that is what we are doing.”

For Reiner, investing in the charging domain is vital in order to construct a first-rate encounter for each aspect of Mercedes-Benz EV ownership. Charging is a considerable challenge, and if Mercedes can manage to ‘revamp’ it, this could be a remarkable success story for the German automobile manufacturer.

Mercedes-Benz has taken steps to construct a charging infrastructure via the establishment of a joint venture, labeled Mercedes-Benz HPC North America, alongside MN8 Energy – a renewable energy company. Guiding this project is Andrew Cornelia, another practitioner with former roles at Tesla and Volta. This partnership primarily seeks to improve the public’s embrace of electric vehicles by developing a range of superior, swift, and high-quality charging centers.

Mercedes-Benz HPC NA has an ambitious target of deploying four hundred charging stations by the year 2030, which would sum up to a considerable 2,500 DC fast chargers all through North America. The one in Atlanta that we picked for review was the company’s 1st installation, yet it expects immediate improvement. The subdivision of Mercedes-Benz has already created a collaboration with Buc-ee’s and Simon Malls. Furthermore, the organization anticipates multiple Buc-ee’s hubs will be operating at fuel stops and service stations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Texas by 2024.

“It’s not about the charging; it’s about what you do while you charge,” Cornelia stated during a press conference. “Therefore, our partnership strategy is quite clear. We want to put charging in those retail locations where patrons can also enjoy a great cup of coffee or {dine at} an excellent restaurant, benefit from green space, and take their dogs out for a stroll. We’ve achieved this with Simon; we’ve achieved this with Buc-ees.”

When it comes to providing power, Mercedes-Benz understands that swift and dependable charging is fundamental. Consequently, the firm has opted for ChargePoint as its beginning center to ensure stable chargers. The ChargePoint DC rapid-chargers provide up to 400 kW of capability. This should let an EQS battery charge in a short thirty minutes, taking the electric car from zero to 80% full. Notably, the speedy rates will primarily benefit the upcoming cars with 800V electric motors.

In the near future, Mercedes-Benz will be offering a considerable upgrade from the current Tesla’s V3 Supercharger and Electrify America’s Hyper-Fast Chargers that have a capacity of 250kW and 350kW, respectively. Their forthcoming charging stations will boast an astounding power rating of up to 500kW. With both NACS and CCS1 connectors in place, these channels will enable not only Tesla vehicles but also the swathe of emerging electric cars that are set to utilize the plug type and the countless off-road EVs currently in operation. Sony’s installation located in their headquarters is presently restricted to CCS1 features only.

The automaker has made it clear that the electricity used to power its cars is carbon neutral on a monthly basis, thanks to its partnership with MN8 Energy. “We’re making sure that for every kilowatt-hour that goes into those charging stations and then into the cars, we are matching it with clean, green kilowatt-hours that go back onto the grid each month,” explained Jon Yoder, CEO of MN8 Energy. Additionally, the GA current hub features some on-site generation with rooftop solar panels.

While speedy charging is superb, the German vehicle firm sought to also emphasize opulence. With respect to the Georgia charging station, Mercedes-Benz offers an extravagant lounge and lavatory provisions. The sofa area is adequately sized, with many different spots for sitting, a study desk, a vending machine and a coffee maker. Unfortunately, these two equipment require payment; the vending device comes at a reasonably steep price, with chips costing about three dollars. In contrast, the coffee dispenser is quite cheap (excluding the unavailable $8.50 Mocha); it costs only $2.50 for a cup of hot chocolate.

The living room and restroom are open to the public, meaning they’re part of the fee you pay for your charging session. These spaces are managed by Mercedes-Benz, which work to the benefit of their EQ product owners. Through the infotainment system, vehicle owners are able to book stall reservations in advance for added assurance while making road trips. An added bonus of owning a Benz is also that you get lower priced electricity rates. For those who don’t drive a Mercedes-Benz, however, there is no priority access and likely higher pricing. This leads to the crucial inquiry – how much does one have to pay to use such a charging station?

While access to the lounge and bathrooms are included no matter what electric vehicle (EV) you pull up in, the only payment required is the price per kilowatt-hour. Mercedes-Benz has suggested that its prices will be comparable to other networks. Dimitris Psillakis, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, stated, “We are aiming to build a profitable network, but we also want to make it straightforward and simple for the driver to comprehend. We don’t want this to be a slot machine where you know what to expect to be charged. It is essential that we communicate this effectively.”

Current EQ models are granted six months of free charging hub usage. Beginning with the 2023 model-year, the EQE and EQS vehicles have been upgraded to communicate with Plug and Charge services (ISO 15118) for a more uncomplicated charging experience. These advancements are further expanded as the 2024 models will enjoy a complimentary two-year period.

Mercedes-Benz highlighted access and safety as major factors in its plans. In many US areas, electric car charging facilities are arranged in a way that impediments those who have limited mobility from charging their vehicles. Also, drivers with trailers find the spaces offered to charge their cars unviable. The Georgia Hub of Mercedes-Benz has considered these issues and offers a wheelchair friendly station right next to the services, along with a large pull-through that should serve 26-foot-long trailers.

Safety was a priority for Mercedes-Benz HPC when they were designing their charging hubs. “We want to make sure that safety is taken into account,” Cornelia mentioned to InsideEVs. “We have CCTV installed at the station behind us, and we’re also being very mindful of who we partner with, where we place these locations, and the route people have to take to get from the charger to the amenities. We want to make sure people have the shortest distance possible.”

Mercedes-Benz appears to be on a winning streak. According to the brand, it has committed to an investment of more than one billion US dollars over the next ten years. This move will not only promote a sense of security in EQ customers, even when they are not taking advantage of charging stations, but also further their standing as a leader in electric vehicle engineering.

A pledge of dependable public charging can be advantageous to all existing and impending EV owners. The notion of lengthy queues at the charger, defective units, and slow charging times could discourage perspective buyers. Yet, with major investments – particularly from automakers themselves – these dilemmas might hopefully be ameliorated.

Tesla has proven that a reliable charging network can exist nationwide. Mercedes-Benz is now looking to demonstrate that they can not only meet this standard of reliability, but also provide a luxurious experience. The initial evidence looks encouraging, however, we will wait until we can take a long-distance journey on the HPC network before offering our full opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *