America, Mercedes-Benz wants you to indulge in retail therapy while you’re DC fast charging

Mercedes-Benz High-Power Charging Network (MB HPC) North America just announced that it’s partnering with the largest owner of shopping malls in the US.

Mercedes-Benz DC fast charging at the mall

In January, Mercedes-Benz, along with EV charging network ChargePoint and clean energy provider MN8 Energy, announced plans to deploy 400 charging stations and over 2,500 DC fast chargers across North America by 2030. 

Now Mercedes has announced that it’s going to install 55 charging hubs at retail properties owned by Simon, a US real estate investment trust that owns a lot of shopping malls. Even if you haven’t heard of Simon, chances are pretty good that you’ve shopped at one or more of its properties. Perhaps the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, Las Vegas North Premium Outlets, the Galleria in Houston, or the Miami International Mall ring a bell. (If you’re curious about which shopping centers Simon owns, here’s the whole list.)

Each Mercedes-branded charging hub will feature around 8-10 DC fast chargers with dual CCS and NACS plugs, but the number of chargers will be tailored to the needs of each location. Each turnkey hub will be 100% powered by clean energy.

The chargers are open to all EV drivers, but Mercedes-Benz drivers will get preferential access and the ability to reserve chargers ahead of time.

When I spoke with Andrew Cornelia, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz HPC North America, he asserted that the hubs would be “one of the fastest charging systems in North America.” MB HPC’s website says that its DC fast chargers will have up to 350kW of power.

He also said retail integration into the EV charging experience is becoming increasingly vital. Or, as he put it, “Charging done well is in the background – it becomes an experience.”

Then Cornelia and I mostly talked about why Mercedes chose to partner with Simon, and he explained that it’s because of “dwell time consideration.” I noted that a DC fast charge takes around a half hour, give or take, but when folks go to the mall, they could be there for two or more hours. (I know how long I spend in premium outlet malls.) He pointed out that the chargers will be strategically placed near amenities that travelers need, such as cafes and restaurants, and that the malls chosen will be near highway corridors. Plus, as the number of EV drivers grows, malls have the space to make the EV charging hubs bigger.

Electrek’s Take

I agree with Cornelia about retail integration because I don’t enjoy sitting in my VW ID.4 in empty, dark parking garages with no amenities or facilities. Or, to put it more bluntly, I want to get a drink and go to the restroom.

We at Electrek always talk about the charging experience and what would work best in which location. Levels 1 and 2 are great for at-home charging. (We also think all airports should make 120v outlets available to travelers.) DC fast charging is needed for road trips or if you just don’t have the time to charge more slowly.

But we talk even more about how critical excellent amenities are. It’s time for EV charging hubs to move out from the literal back of the building into a more convenient, well-lit location near offerings that make traveling an enjoyable experience.

I look forward to seeing which of Simon’s malls Mercedes’ hubs are situated and which amenities they’re positioned next to. I vote for great coffee, healthy food, and clean bathrooms. And if I accidentally on purpose buy a new pair of shoes, so be it.

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