Mercedes-Benz has big plans for its charging network in North America, and soon enough you may reap the benefits of that plan when you go shopping.
The German luxury automaker today announced a partnership with American mall, outlet center and retail giant Simon Property Group to establish nationwide charging stations. Simon Property Group is the largest shopping center manager and developer in the U.S., counting major destinations like the King of Prussia Mall in Philadelphia and Woodbury Common in New York among its vast portfolio. A team-up with Mercedes would bring public fast charging to many of those places.
Fast chargers would be initially deployed at 55 locations across the U.S. and Canada, and they will be entirely powered by renewable energy, Mercedes-Benz said in a press release today. The automaker plans to leverage Simon's expertise in "amenities and experiences," stating that Mercedes-EQ drivers will be able to "shop, live, work, and play," while their electric cars juice up.
Depending on the location, the chargers will deliver up to 400 kilowatts of output. The brand didn't share the voltage architecture and other specifications of these upcoming units.
That said, Mercedes-Benz doesn't want charging to be a boring affair. "We're building the confidence around how charging should be used. If done well, charging should fade into the background and it's much more about what you do while you charge," Mercedes-Benz High Power Charging North America President and CEO Andrew Cornelia told InsideEVs last week.
The approach is similar to Tesla's jazzed-up Supercharger station with a retro diner and drive-in theater under construction in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz And Simon Charging Partnership
The upcoming Mercedes-Benz chargers will be open to all EVs – including non-Mercedes-Benz models – from day one, said Cornelia, and they will support the traditional, current CCS ports and Tesla's NACS port coming natively to Mercedes' cars in 2025. ChargePoint will be the product and technology partner, Simon the real estate partner, and MN8 the development partner.
The automaker is planning to install 500 charging hubs in North America in the next four to five years. It previously announced plans to install over 2,000 fast charging points worldwide by the end of next year and expand to over 10,000 charging points (2,000 hubs) by 2030, across North America, Europe, China, and other key markets. We don't know the exact date when Mercedes-Benz will inaugurate these fast chargers, but we're told it will be soon, and the first one will be in Atlanta.
The automaker is embarking on a multi-front effort to expand its charging presence. At the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, it announced a partnership with ChargePoint and renewable energy company MN8 to install over 2,500 solar-powered charging points (400 hubs) in North America by 2027. In June 2023, it became part of a seven-carmaker consortium – including General Motors, BMW Group, Honda, Hyundai, Stellantis, and Kia – to announce a sprawling charging network across urban and highway locations with CCS and NACS compatibility.
Only time will tell if Mercedes-Benz can deliver on these promises, and the road could be bumpy if ChargePoint's reliability problems aren't addressed soon. ChargePoint hubs are far from perfect, as several users have reported. Although, the company has recently announced a multi-million dollar effort to rectify these issues. Cornelia echoed the German automaker's resolve on reliability and quality. "This isn't just to get money out the door. This isn't just building a network because we have venture investors behind us who want to return on their capital," he said. "Before we do anything else, we have to hit that mark on quality."
To ensure that customers don't drive into stations with dysfunctional chargers, Mercedes-Benz aims to focus on "everything from network design, partner selection, and product selection," according to Cornelia. And the brand wants the action of plugging in to be effortless. Cornelia cited the example of how easy it is to get into the New York City subway – by tapping your credit card or NFC-enabled smartphone onto a digital reader which then unlocks the turnstiles. That's the level of ease Mercedes-Benz is aiming for in its charging experience.
"It's not about CCS vs NACS, it's about whether your grandmother will be able to pick the [charging] cable up and plug it into the car," he said.