Mercedes-Benz opens its first fast-charging hub in Georgia at its headquarters, offering a lounge with food and charging speeds of up to 400 kW.
The hub is the first in a planned network of 400 stations across the US that will feature 2500 individual charge points.
Several more hubs are slated to open later this year in a number of states in the southeast, with several Buc-ee's travel centers slated to receive the same chargers.
The average EV charging experience in the US can still be a gamble when it comes to wait times, charger functionality, and charging speeds. And that's before we get to some basic essentials like protection from rain or the availability of food nearby.
Mercedes-Benz hopes to change this unfortunate status quo with a new network of stations that promises the opposite of what charging experiences have been plagued with over the past decade.
Dubbed the Mercedes-Benz High Power Charging (HPC) network, the first station opened at the automaker's headquarters in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
It's the first of 400 such stations planned across the US that will feature 2500 individual chargers, due to be completed by the end of the decade in a partnership with MN8 Energy. And it's open to owners of all EVs—not just ones built by Mercedes-Benz.
When it comes to what matters most, the hub's main event are ChargePoint chargers that can dispense energy at rates of up to 400 kW—speeds that might not leave much time to visit and try out the hub's lounge chairs, couches, refreshments, as well as restrooms.
In fact, there are very few EVs on the market today that can even take advantage of 400-kW speeds, or 350 kW for that matter. Let's just say it helps owning an EV with an 800-volt architecture.
The charging stalls themselves will be covered by a solar canopy, providing LED lighting at night, as well as 15-foot-tall pylons that will display the stall's status: Free, in use, or reserved.
That's right: Just like Audi's hub, these chargers will accept reservations ahead of time, and they can be made automatically by Mercedes-Benz EQ vehicles based on the navigation system's Electric Intelligence feature. Plug and charge functionality will make the process even easier for EQ owners who will use the Mercedes Me charge app.
"In North America, our strategy is clear: focusing on where EV drivers are and where they are going to enhance the North American EV charging map while setting new standards for quality and customer experience," said Franz Reiner, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG. "These efforts will pave the way for greater EV adoption here in North America and around the world."
But Mercedes-Benz doesn't plan to keep this charging hub concept just to itself. By the end of 2023, the automaker says it will bring several hubs to Buc-ee's travel centers in four states: Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Alabama. Locations at Simon Malls elsewhere in the US will follow in the first half of next year.
Overall, the effort is part of Mercedes' $1 billion commitment, along with MN8 Energy, to build the continent's fastest charging network by the end of the decade.
Mercedes isn't alone in building branded EV hubs that will try to replicate the airline lounge experience, complete with staff. Audi and Porsche are doing the same at the moment, albeit on a smaller scale in Europe.
But it's clear that EV makers aren't content with what the typical road trip experience has been for EV owners for the past decade, even though building out this network will obviously take some time.
Will most EV charging stations be like this by the end of the decade, or will this station concept remain in the minority among charging locations? Let us know what you think.