Ask anyone who owns an electric car the worst thing about it and I guarantee everyone will have the same answer - public charging. From faulty chargers to long waits and a baffling number of services and apps, the public charging experience is simply not smooth enough.
I've experienced numerous occasions when I've gone to charge at a shopping centre or motorway charge point and the machine inexplicably refuses to work, or I've needed to download an app while in an underground car park with one bar of 2G.
One of the best things about owning a Tesla isn't the renowned build quality or software reliability, it is access to the brand's massive Supercharger network, which aims to ease many of these headaches.
It seems like Mercedes has realised this, and has now announced a luxury charging network of its own to rival the Tesla Superchargers.
While Superchargers are available exclusively for Tesla owners, the Mercedes Charging Network will not be exclusive to Mercedes vehicles, it will be open to drivers of all brands with compatible technology.
The new charging network will also play nicely with Mercedes-Benz Electric Intelligence Navigation, which makes life easy by automatically optimising route planning, incorporating the best charging points and reserving spaces in advance.
The system will know how busy each location is and ensure you can immediately access the reserved charging point at the required time.
Mercedes also hopes to further enhance this seamless experience with the “Plug & Charge” function, where the charging station communicates directly with the vehicle via the charging cable, removing the need for manual authentication via card, app or head unit.
As for the charging network locations, depending on region, the hubs will offer 4 to 12, and ultimately as many as 30, high-power chargers with up to 350 kW of charging power.
The optimised station layout will ensure plenty of space around the vehicle as well as unhindered charging from either side. Where feasible, charging points will be covered for protection from the weather.
The locations and surroundings of the Mercedes-Benz charging hubs will be carefully selected and should have food outlets and restrooms situated nearby. Facilities will also be equipped with surveillance cameras and other measures to provide a safe and secure charging environment.
Mercedes-Benz chose CES 2023 to announce the rollout of this high-power charging network will start this year in North America.
By 2027, a network totalling more than 400 hubs across North America with more than 2,500 high-power chargers is planned, These hubs will be located in key cities and urban population centres, close to major arteries, convenient retail and service destinations.
The aim is to have the full network in place before the end of the decade, with hubs in Europe, China and other key markets around the globe planned following North America.