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Mercedes-Benz is the most recent company to start its own charging network, following Tesla, Volkswagen and Rivian.Courtesy of manufacturer

Mercedes-Benz will build at least 2,500 chargers – powered by renewable electricity – at 400 charging stations across North America by the end of this decade, the company announced Wednesday.

The German luxury automaker is the most recent company to start its own charging network, following Tesla, Volkswagen and Rivian.

Called the Mercedes-Benz Charging Network, it launched Wednesday with a charging station at the company’s U.S. corporate headquarters in Sandy Springs, Ga., near Atlanta.

The chargers, which will be open to all brands of electric vehicles, will offer speeds of up to 400 kilowatts and both the CCS (Combined Charging System) and NACS (Tesla’s North American Charging Standard) plugs.

The company said it plans to add more chargers at a chain of gas stations in Texas, Florida, Alabama and Georgia by the end of the year and at a chain of outlet malls in the first half of 2024.

The company did not immediately say how many chargers it will be adding this year and next year. It also did not say when the network may come to Canada.

Mercedes said it will invest more than US$1-billion in the network, which is a joint venture with U.S.-based renewable energy company MN8 Energy Inc., by 2030.

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Mercedes-Benz opened its first charging hub Wednesday at the company’s head office in Sandy Springs, Ga. The company plans to build at least at 400 charging stations across North America by the end of this decade.Courtesy of manufacturer

The chargers will use Plug and Charge, a standard also used by Tesla, that allows charging to begin automatically when the car is plugged into the charger.

This is the company’s second announcement of a new charging network this year. In July, Mercedes was one of seven automakers who announced they were working together to build a North American charging network that would add at least 30,000 fast-charging plugs by 2030. Mercedes said the Mercedes Benz Charging Network will be separate from that new joint network.

Also this year, many major automakers, including Mercedes, have announced that they are switching to Tesla’s NACS plug and that their EVs will be able to fast charge on Tesla’s Supercharger network.

Last November, Tesla opened up its charging network – which is the biggest in North America and has a reputation for speed and reliability – to other brands of EVs.

So why are more car companies entering the charging business now?

“They’re seeing that if you want to sell the car that you produce, you need charging networks that you can rely on – because some of the networks now are not reliable,” said Daniel Breton, chief executive officer of Electric Mobility Canada, a Montreal-based national non-profit that promotes EV ownership. “So now they have to catch up.”

You can charge an EV at home if you have access to a 120-volt standard outlet (also known as Level 1 charging) or a 240-volt home charger (Level 2). They take hours to charge an EV to full.

But if you want to take trips anywhere farther than your EV’s range – on most new EVs sold now, that’s around 400 kilometres – you will need a public DC fast charger. Depending on the car and speed of the charger, they can charge an EV’s battery to 80 per cent in about 20 to 45 minutes.

As of August 2023, fast charging networks owned by car companies, including Tesla’s Supercharger network and Volkswagen-owned Electrify Canada, counted for almost 2,100 of the nearly 4,600 individual public fast chargers in Canada, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN).

Here’s a look at the main car company-owned networks in the U.S. and Canada.

The charger numbers come from NRCAN data and were last updated in August 2023.

Tesla Supercharger Network
  • Car company: Tesla
  • Started: 2012
  • Number of stations: 1,931 chargers at 199 stations (Canada); 22,585 chargers at 2,031 stations (U.S.)
  • Charging speed: Up to 250 kilowatts (depending on charger)
  • Open to other EV brands: Yes (since 2022)
Electrify America/Electrify Canada
  • Car company: Volkswagen
  • Started: 2016 (U.S.); 2018 (Canada)
  • Number of stations: 132 chargers at 33 stations (Canada); 3,829 chargers at 868 stations (U.S.)
  • Charging speed: Up to 350 kilowatts (depending on charger)
  • Open to other EV brands: Yes
Rivian Adventure Network
  • Car company: Rivian
  • Started: 2022
  • Number of stations: 348 chargers (U.S. only)
  • Charging speed: Up to 220 kilowatts now (stations designed for 300)
  • Open to other EV brands: No (Rivian said they will open up to other brands but no date has been announced)
Mercedes Benz Charging Network
  • Car company: Mercedes-Benz
  • Started: 2023
  • Number of stations: One (U.S. only)
  • Charging speed: Up to 400 kilowatts
  • Open to other EV brands: Yes

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