The hub is located at the automaker’s U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, meaning most early adopters will likely be Mercedes employees. But the company says owners of non-Mercedes electric vehicles are also welcome to use the chargers.
The charging station is the first in a series of 2,000 proposed hubs that Mercedes plans to install around the world as part of a multi-year, billion-dollar plan. But the company does not bear all the costs 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 Atlanta hub looks remarkably similar to the initial renderings: eight booths with two outlets each; a well-lit awning to provide protection from the elements with lights powered by a solar panel; a stand for wheelchair accessible vehicles and another uncovered by the awning for access by larger utility vehicles; and a 15-foot-tall sign, visible from the street, that indicates when charging stations are free or in use. The lounge looks well lit, clean and comfortable, with plenty of refreshments and drinks available from the vending machines.
New Atlanta Hub Looks Remarkably Like Initial Renderings
The technology behind the new hub also looks impressive. According to ChargePoint, the system includes new features such as the ability to charge two electric vehicles from a single stand at “very high speeds.” Mercedes says each outlet can charge at up to 400 kW – but ChargePoint notes that the hubs are rated for speeds “up to 500 kW”, which is faster than any current electric vehicle.
Charging centers will be open to all electric vehicles, but owners of Mercedes electric vehicles will have the option to reserve certain stations. Reservations can be made via Mercedes’ electric vehicle infotainment systems. And the charging hub features “Plug and Charge” capabilities, a new technology standard that makes charging your car much simpler.
Incumbent automakers have been reluctant to follow in Tesla’s footsteps by paying the enormous costs associated with building their own charging network, leaving most public chargers in the United States to third-party companies. And while some of these 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 favorable, to say the least.
But as sales of electric vehicles have increased, automakers are now realizing that they need to invest in charging in order to make electric vehicle adoption truly inevitable. Volvo pays to install chargers in Starbucks stores in the United States. 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 charging network for electric vehicles .