Mercedes-Benz cut the ribbon on its first EV fast-charging hub in the US, complete with a swanky waiting area and 400kW charging speeds courtesy of ChargePoint.
The hub is located at the automaker’s US-based headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, meaning most of the early users are likely to be Mercedes employees. But the company says that owners of non-Mercedes EVs are welcome to use the chargers as well.
The charging station is the first of a proposed 2,000 hubs that Mercedes plans on installing worldwide as part of a $1 billion, multiyear plan. But the company isn’t shouldering the whole cost itself; 50 percent will be covered by MN8 Energy, an offshoot of Goldman Sachs Asset Management focused on solar power and energy storage.
The new hub in Atlanta looks remarkably similar to the initial renderings: eight stalls with two plugs each; a brightly lit canopy to provide protection from the elements with lights powered by a solar array; one stall for wheelchair-accessible vehicles and another uncovered by the canopy for access by taller commercial vehicles; and a 15-foot-tall sign, visible from the street that indicates when charging stalls are free or in use. The lounge looks well lit, clean, and comfortable, with plenty of refreshments and drinks available from vending machines.
The new hub in Atlanta looks remarkably similar to the initial renderings
The technology underpinning the new hub sounds impressive as well. According to ChargePoint, the system includes new features such as the ability to charge two EVs from one stall at “very high speeds.” Mercedes says each plug can charge as fast as 400kW — but ChargePoint notes that the hubs are rated for speeds “up to 500kW,” which is faster than any current EV is capable of charging.
The charging hubs will be open to all EVs, but people who own Mercedes EVs will have the option to reserve certain stations. Reservations can be made through the infotainment systems of Mercedes’ EVs. And the charging hub features “Plug and Charge” capabilities, a new technology standard that allows a much simpler way to charge your car.
Legacy automakers have been reluctant to follow in Tesla’s footsteps in paying the enormous costs associated with building out their own charging network, leaving most of the public chargers in the US to third-party companies. And while some of those third-party chargers work just fine, many of them don’t, leaving most Americans with an impression of the state of public charging that is less than favorable (to say the least).
But as EV sales have gone up, automakers now see they need to invest in charging in order to truly make EV adoption inevitable. Volvo is paying to install chargers at Starbucks locations across the US. GM is building its network at Pilot Flying J truck stops. And seven automakers — BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis — recently launched a joint venture to build a separate EV charging network.