The success of Tesla is not only due to the cars, but at least as much to the dense charging network of “superchargers” that Elon Musk has built up. Anyone can charge at the new Mercedes charging parks, but only with a star does one have a decisive advantage.
So far, Mercedes has found it very difficult to stand up to Tesla. Electric models like the EQC were a disappointment in terms of range, while the sales figures for the Stromer were meager. In the future, not only the e-cars of the Swabians should get better. They also want to copy another Tesla success feature: the Supercharger. Mercedes is building its own premium charging network of “HighPower Chargers” in North America, Europe and China, the most important electric car markets to date.
It starts in the USA, where Mercedes, like Audi and BMW, has to catch up with Tesla in terms of electric market share. “Around 400 charging parks with 2,500 charging points are to be built here by 2027. Mercedes is cooperating with MN8 Energy, one of the largest owners and operators of solar energy and battery storage systems in the USA, and ChargePoint, a network technology company. Mercedes will also work with cooperation partners in Europe.
Of course, the whole thing will not be cheap for the car manufacturer. According to information from the industry, the Mercedes charging park construction will cost one billion euros in the USA alone, for the 10,000 star superchargers planned worldwide it will supposedly be four billion.
As befits a premium brand, Mercedes not only wants to charge with a maximum of 350 kW – although only the next generation of electric vehicles can do that – but also place the charging parks in attractive locations.
That would be an advantage over Tesla, whose superchargers are largely stationed across the board, but often in rather unattractive locations somewhere behind dingy freeway parking lots. Audi is also targeting attractive locations with its charging hubs – including lounges. So the run for the best plots of land for charging parks has long since begun, especially in the cities.
Similar to the Tesla superchargers, the Mercedes stations should be open to all car brands. The German Ministry of Transport had enforced under former Minister Andreas Scheuer that Tesla had to open its charging parks to other manufacturers. However, Mercedes drivers will have a decisive advantage over “external chargers”: they can reserve a filling point in advance.
The fee for this is not yet known. Unusual for charging stations, although already known from gas stations, is the planned camera surveillance. It is intended to increase customers’ sense of security. After all, even a quick charge process takes at least 15 to 20 minutes.
While, according to statistics, most electric car owners tend to be among the higher earners and therefore have their own (garage) parking space with a power connection, charging over long distances remains a challenge. Anyone who, like Tesla or other brands in the future, will have a comprehensive, attractive and secure network has a decisive advantage in the world of electric cars.
Because the times when electric drivers were willing to wait for hours at slow AC chargers placed somewhere in the city are over. “Meanwhile, the technical requirements are in place, both in the vehicles and at the stations, so that charging is much faster. That’s why I don’t believe in AC chargers in the city, but in fast-charging hubs,” says Christian Krüger from BayWa Mobility Solutions in an interview with FOCUS Online.
The question remains whether such charging parks can be operated profitably. At the electronics fair CES in Las Vegas, where Mercedes presented its new project, the boss of Mercedes’ joint venture MN8, Jon Yoder, spoke of “five to seven years” until the stations really make a profit.
The shorter the loading times, the better the stations are utilized and the easier it is to earn money with reservation fees, for example. The electricity costs themselves are similar to petrol at the station rather than a continuous item. However, large charging parks can also produce at least part of the electricity themselves with their own solar systems.
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