On your next road trip, you might come across a new type of electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Mercedes Benz plans to build its own $1 billion global EV charging network. The automaker plans to build its first charging station in North America and run a “full network” of stations within a decade.
Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will begin installing the first 10,000 high-power chargers across North America, Europe, China, and other major EV markets immediately. These will be concentrated primarily in urban areas near retail destinations, major transportation infrastructure, and existing Mercedes dealers. In the United States and Canada, at least 400 hubs with a total of 2,500 chargers should be operational by the end of 2027.
MN8 Energy, one of the largest solar panel and battery storage owners and operators in the US, and ChargePoint, a major EV charging network company, are assisting Mercedes’ mission. Each high-powered charger will have a charging power of up to 350 kW. Mercedes drivers will be able to reserve a spot at a hub ahead of time to avoid long lines, but other automakers’ EVs will be able to use the chargers as well.
In more ways than one, Mercedes’ announcement foreshadows a battle with leading EV company Tesla. Tesla is already the most popular EV automaker in the United States and much of Europe, and most people think of Tesla’s roadside EV charging stations. But now is the time for Mercedes to challenge Elon Musk’s luxury EV brand. Tesla’s grip on the EV market has been slipping for a few months, thanks to the introduction of more affordable (yet sufficiently swanky) EVs. Musk’s personal antics are also jeopardizing the company’s overall success. These factors, when combined, may provide Mercedes with an opportunity to catch up to its more established competitor.
Mercedes, like many other mainstream automakers, is supporting the transition to EVs. It announced last summer that its VISION EQXX concept car had broken its own range record, traveling 747 miles across multiple countries on a single charge. Months later, Mercedes tainted its own reputation by announcing that customers would be charged $1,200 per month to fully utilize their vehicles’ existing acceleration capabilities. Every coin, after all, has two sides.