Mercedes-Benz launches branded HPC network

Mercedes-Benz has come to CES in Las Vegas to make a far-reaching announcement. The German carmaker wants to build its own high-power charging network covering North America, Europe, China and other key markets. The North American strategy is the most concrete.

Overall, Mercedes-Benz targets installing more than 10,000 ultra-rapid chargers worldwide by the end of this decade. That is when the company wants to be fully electric “wherever market conditions permit,” as reported. The announcement of a Mercedes HPC network now appears to ready the markets for the EV transition, in line with Daimler CEO Ola Källenius belief: “The tipping point is getting closer, and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade.”

However, the strategic approach to high-power charging differs from the Ionity network Mercedes is running in Europe alongside other OEMs. Rather than lining motorways, Mercedes envisions its new hubs springing up in major cities and metropolitan areas near main traffic arteries and retail and service locations, including its car dealerships.

The new hubs are for Mercedes drivers first, who will get preferential rates and access thanks to a reservation function. Of course, there will also be Plug & Play, and Mercedes stresses that authentication via card or app will be possible but won’t be required for Mercedes-Benz customers using the Mercedes me Charge service.

At the same time, the charging parks will also be open to all other vehicle brands with compatible technology. This is a strategy that has been employed by many brands, for example, Audi. Even Tesla is opening up its proprietary Supercharger network in Europe, where it encourages third-party charging.

Mercedes-Benz will build the network in North America

As for Mercedes-Benz, the plans are already concrete for North America. At CES, the carmaker announced that construction of its own HPC network would begin in the US and Canada this year with partners such as MN8 Energy and ChargePoint.

By 2027, they want to oversee a network of more than 400 sites boasting 2,500 ultra-rapid chargers on the continent. Depending on the region and location, the fast charging hubs will offer four to twelve and a maximum of up to 30 high-power charge points with up to 350 kW capacity.

Mercedes adds it was to “maximise access to green charging” with the help of MN8 Energy. The company is one the largest renewable energy providers in the States, focusing on solar and energy storage. The press release mentions that selected Mercedes-Benz charging hubs will also be equipped with photovoltaic systems, however, only to provide electricity for lighting and video surveillance. Whether the cooperation could include battery buffers in locations where grid coverage may not suffice to deliver continuous high-power charges remains to be seen. So far, MN8 and Mercedes-Benz have said they will jointly finance and operate the charging hubs. The total investment cost for the North American network will be just over one billion euros deployed over the next 6-7 years. Mercedes and MN8 will provide the capital in a roughly 50:50 split, so the companies.

The third partner, ChargePoint, itself a robust US network, will deliver charging hardware and software such as ChargePoint Express Plus, the company’s DC fast charge platforms built for businesses. The system can deliver up to 500kW per port via liquid-cooled cables and is designed to scale to meet future demand quickly, so the company.

ChargePoint CEO Pasquale Romano commented the partnership would expand the existing relationships with Mercedes-Benz and MN8. “We believe the expansion of charging hubs like these will enable the emergence of a new 30-minute retail economy, at the intersection of innovation and accessibility that combines charging and commerce, giving drivers a superior experience to charge quickly and easily.”

“We are excited to start right here in North America with two strong and experienced partners, ChargePoint and MN8 Energy, “said Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

High power charging network part of a global strategy

Mercedes-Benz has yet to name partners to install high-power charging hubs in Europe and China. It is likely, though, that the respective networks will work along the same principles. “Mercedes-Benz customers deserve a compelling charging experience that makes electric vehicle ownership and long-distance travel effortless, and that’s why we are launching a global high-end charging network that will offer a charging experience to match the extraordinary Mercedes driving experience,” said Källenius.

The Mercedes-Benz high-power charging network indeed marks an expansion of existing charging offers. Mercedes me Charge already offers access to around one million charging points worldwide, including the pan-European fast-charging network Ionity.

These initiatives aside, the company believes “the global reach and prime locations” of its (new) charging network will likely make it “an asset in its own right” and called the HPC network network “the next essential step” in its electrification strategy.

All businesses linked to charging will be bundled within Mercedes‑Benz Mobility.

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