Mercedes-Benz is the latest auto maker to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles, investing more than 40 billion euros by 2030 to develop battery electric vehicles, or BEVs. By 2025, the German luxury car company will offer a BEV version of every model in its lineup. At that time, Mercedes-Benz will introduce three new electric-only vehicle platforms. The new all-electric platforms will be dubbed MB.EA, designed for medium to large cars and SUVs, AMG.EA, dedicated to high performance vehicles like those found in the current Mercedes-AMG lineup and VAN.EA, intended for electric vans and light commercial vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz expects nearly half of its global sales to be fully electric or hybrid electric vehicles by 2025 – that’s up compared to their previous target of 25 per cent announced in the fall of 2020. By next year, Mercedes-Benz will have BEVs in all segments across its entire lineup. Eight electric vehicles will be produced at seven locations on three continents. The first one out the gate is the EQS sedan, which arrives in Canadian dealerships this fall. Later this year, the EQE sedan, which is based on the same platform as the EQS, will make its world debut; while SUVs will transition to electric motors in Canada next year with the arrival of the EQS SUV, which will be built at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the 2023 full-size EQB 7-seater luxury SUV.
To that end, the company is upping the stakes in battery development. It aims to set up eight Gigafactories globally – that’s in addition to nine plants already planned to build battery systems. Also in the works is a new battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim, Germany. it’s slated to open in 2023, pending ongoing discussions with German public authorities.
The company is also turning its focus to improving charging infrastructure, which will be necessary given that ease of charging remains one of the biggest hurdles to widespread EV adoption. Their solution is what they say will be a digitally-integrated EV charging strategy designed to simplify finding charging stations across the country as well as paying for charging.
Dubbed “Mercedes me Charge, the service is already available in Europe, but will now officially allow drivers to connect to more than 4,900 charging stations and more than 2,400 semi-public charging stations at workplaces, shopping malls, and hotels across Canada. The charging spots are integrated automatically into the driver’s route and displayed on the navigation screen. A new “Plug & Charge” feature, which comes out later this year, will also make it faster and easier to pay for charging. Once you sign up for the Mercedes me Charge service and the driver chooses the preferred payment via Mercedes’ smartphone app, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience [MBUX] system on the display screen, or the Mercedes me credit card, everything is saved and integrated into the system so there’s no extra steps needed every time you charge. The idea is that there will be no need to set up an account with different networks, subscribe to additional services, or use different charging cards.
“You do not have to have multiple cards or contracts like other brands – it’s one card, one contract. And with features like Plug and Charge, you can just plug in the car and everything is done. This helps to really get the customer on board because so it’s simple, especially for first time EV buyers,” says Nico Dettmer, global head of business development charging and partnerships at Mercedes-Benz AG from Stuttgart.
In Canada, Mercedes me Charge and Green Charging services, a feature that ensures an equivalent amount of electricity from renewable resources is fed into the grid for charging EVs to create more demand for renewable energy, are included for three years on the EQS, but the actual charging is not covered.
Charging at home is simplified, too. Mercedes-Benz Canada has partnered with FLO and Qmerit to install the home charging system, which is a FLO Home X5 with smart charging features, such as programmable charging times. It’s designed and manufactured in Canada, and certified to sustain temperatures to minus 40°C. So there’s no need to shop around for installation companies and fast chargers – the decisions are already made for you.
“We have a pretty cool, fully integrated solution. This is unique in Canada and it makes it easier for the customer,” says Dettmer. “The Canadian market is one of the most important markets for us. This is the reason we put in all this effort [into charging solutions] … Our goal is to combine workplace charging, home-charging and public charging in one easy system so it’s a full package. This is different for us and for other OEMs, especially when it comes to the car integration so you have a seamless journey and an intuitive charging system for the customer,” he adds.