Mercedes opens first North American charging station
Joint venture with MN8 aims to install 400 charging hubs across the US
German legacy OEM Mercedes has opened the first charging station in a planned North American network joint venture (JV) with US-based renewable energy solutions company MN8 Energy. The first station has opened in Sandy Springs, Georgia, near Atlanta.
“This inaugural charging hub is the first step in Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to invest over $1bn, in a joint venture with MN8 Energy, to deliver 2,500 chargers within at least 400 charging hubs across North America by the end of the decade,” Mercedes says.
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The station contains 400kW chargers, provided by US charging company Chargepoint. The 400kW charging capacity is on the faster end of fast charging, allowing a Tesla Model Y, for example, which reportedly has a battery capacity of up to 80kW, to charge fully in as little as twelve minutes.
Hardware provider Chargepoint hails the opening as the first mass-scale rollout of its new Express Plug Power Link 2000 DC fast charging platform, and says that the chargers are capable of “speeds up to 500kW”.
“The architecture is based upon power blocks, which in turn house up to five power modules to reach a desired charging specification. The power blocks deliver power that can be dynamically shared amongst power link charging stations, which are the actual units that plug into a vehicle,” Chargepoint says.
“Featuring liquid-cooled cables with hardware designed and tested to deliver a reliable charging experience, these stations can simultaneously charge two vehicles at one time, at sustained high speeds of up to 500kW. Power blocks intelligently and dynamically allocate power based on what specific vehicles can accommodate as they charge,” the company continues.
The station is equipped with both CCS1 and Tesla’s NACS charging systems and as such is interoperable between EVs from all automakers. Mercedes says though that its branded charging hubs “will offer exclusive benefits for Mercedes-Benz EV drivers”, including automatic charger reservations enabled by the navigation features native to Mercedes EQ models, and the 'plug & charge' feature for users of the Mercedes.me charge app.
“MN8’s deep experience as an owner-operator of enterprise renewable energy solutions brings unparalleled asset-ownership expertise at the largest scale — a critical component of delivering a high-quality, reliable, and premium experience to EV drivers,” the JV partners say.
The companies confirm that the station would have solar panels on its roof, likely provided by MN8.
Range of options
The planned JV with MN8 is distinct from the consortium which Mercedes entered into along with six other OEMs in July to build out a North American charging network.
This project will see the US’ GM, Japan’s Honda, South Korea’s Hyundai and Kia, Franco-Italian automaker Stellantis, and Germany’s BMW team up with Mercedes to bring 30,000 DC fast chargers in highway locations. Few further details have been announced about the project other than that interoperability across all EVs would be a priority, suggesting that both NACS and CCS connectors would be used in the network.
However, Mercedes has previously expressed its intention to operate its own charging network in conjunction with the automakers’ coalition.
“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. These efforts will pave the way for greater EV adoption here in North America and around the world,” says Franz Reiner, chair of Mercedes’ board of management.
Mercedes says that “several hubs” will open at Buc-ee's travel centres in Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia by the end of 2023, with further expansion in 2024, in addition to stations at Simon Mall retail locations in the first half of 2024.