Mercedes-Benz announces new electric vehicle (EV) charging network and tech developments at CES

Mercedes-Benz is at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 to showcase its “Tech to Desire” with several new developments. Most notably, the automaker announced plans to launch a global high-power Mercedes-Benz-branded electric vehicle (EV) charging network. 

The rollout starts this year in North America in partnership with MN8 Energy and ChargePoint. This could be the biggest charging network from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) since Tesla

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Mercedes-Benz also revealed several other innovations and collaborations that give back time, make life easier and generate excitement for customers in the car and beyond.

Mercedes-Benz High-Power Charging Network

At CES 2023, Chief Technology Officer Markus Schäfer revealed plans for a Mercedes-Benz branded high-power charging network starting this year in North America. Rollout in Europe, China and other main markets will follow. 

The North American network is scheduled for completion by 2027, by which time a total of more than 400 hubs with more than 2,500 high-power chargers will cover the continent. Spaced conveniently at regular intervals close to motorways, major intersections and metropolitan areas, the hubs will offer a premium, sustainable and reliable charging experience.

The locations and surroundings of the Mercedes-Benz charging hubs will be carefully selected with wider customer needs in mind. The best possible charging experience will therefore come complete with 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 at all times. Selected charging points are covered for protection from the weather. Depending on region and location, the hubs offer four to 12 – and ultimately as many as 30 – high-power chargers (HPC) with up to 350 kW charging power. 

Intelligent charge-load management allows each vehicle to charge at its maximum capacity, keeping waiting times to an absolute minimum. The network will be open to all electric vehicle brands but Mercedes-Benz customers will enjoy special benefits, such as the ability to reserve a charging spot.

In line with its sustainable business strategy “Ambition 2039”, Mercedes-Benz enables its customers to charge green at its own charging network. This is preferably ensured via green electricity supply contracts or through renewable energy certificates from an accredited supplier. 

Furthermore, all Mercedes-Benz charging hubs able to accommodate a roof will be equipped with photovoltaic systems to provide electricity for lighting, video surveillance and alike. 

Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer, Development & Procurement, said: “At Mercedes-Benz, we’re fully committed to making the charging of battery electric vehicles easier and more accessible. 

“By selecting MN8 Energy and ChargePoint as our partners in North America – two of the leaders in their respective fields – we’ll be able to continue to drive the transformation towards an electric future, which is one of the main pillars of our holistic, sustainable corporate strategy.”

MN8 Energy is one of the largest solar energy and battery storage owners and operators in the US. The partnership with MN8 Energy supports Mercedes-Benz’s aim to maximise access to green charging for its customers throughout the US ChargePoint has established one of the world’s leading EV charging networks in the US and Europe that has so far powered approximately five billion electric miles. 

The international company already serves as the Mercedes-Benz backend provider in the US for Mercedes me Charge. By the end of the decade, the Mercedes-Benz high-power charging network will have expanded worldwide with more than 10,000 high-power chargers over and above its existing charging offers.

VISION EQXX Electric Car

Visitors to CES 2023 can take a close look at a life-size model of the VISION EQXX at the Mercedes-Benz booth and learn more about this research vehicle. The most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever proved its capabilities last year with multiple drives of more than 745 miles (1,200km) on a single battery charge. 

It made headlines last summer with an average energy consumption of 8.3-kilowatt hours per 100 kilometres (or 7.5 miles per kilowatt hour) on a drive from Stuttgart, Germany to Silverstone, UK.

Along with the VISION EQXX, Mercedes also has several other electric vehicles on display. This includes the new EQE SUV 500 4MATIC and the high-performance Mercedes‑AMG EQS 53 4MATIC.

Automatic Lane Change (ALC) 

Mercedes-Benz also announced the company’s new Automatic Lane Change (ALC) feature which will come to the North American market this year. ALC enables the car to automatically initiate a lane change and overtake slower vehicles with the cruise control engaged. 

The system is a further expansion stage of the Mercedes‑Benz SAE Level 2 partially automated driving feature, so the driver remains responsible at all times. To use ALC, the driver sets the speed of the adaptive distance cruise control function (Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC). 

The Active Steering Assist (activated by default) does the rest. The car continuously monitors its surroundings via its array of radar sensors and cameras to overtake slower cars while on the motorway. Having overtaken, the vehicle can assist moving back to the original lane. ALC can also initiate an automatic lane change to help follow the active route guidance when approaching exit ramps or freeway junctions.

SAE Level 3 Conditionally Automated Driving 

Mercedes-Benz customers will soon be able to benefit from SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving in the US states of California and Nevada. In May 2022, Mercedes-Benz became the first car manufacturer in the world with an internationally valid certification for conditionally automated driving to offer such a system as an option ex-works for vehicles from series production to customers in Germany. 

On suitable motorway sections and where traffic density is high, DRIVE PILOT can offer to take over the driving, initially up to the legally permitted speed of 60 km/h. This gives customers back time so they can focus on certain secondary activities such as communicating with colleagues via In-Car Office, browsing the web or relaxing while watching a movie. 

Mercedes-Benz has applied for certification in the states of California and Nevada. DMV Nevada has approved the application and they are now preparing the certificate of compliance that will be issued within the next two weeks. With that, Mercedes-Benz will be the first OEM to have a Level 3 system to offer in the US – and is optimistic that California will follow soon.

Partnerships with Apple Music and UMG 

Mercedes-Benz Chief Software Officer Magnus Östberg detailed during the CES 2023 tech talks how Mercedes-Benz is creating the ideal in-car entertainment experience with the help of multiple partners. 

Collaborations with Apple Music, Universal Music Group (UMG) and Dolby Laboratories, Inc. are bringing ground-breaking innovations in the field of sound to Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Thanks to the collaboration with Apple Music, a Mercedes-Benz is now the first non-Apple device to natively offer Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos by Apple Music. 

With this new audio standard, Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music label, is enabling their recording artists to base their song approval process on how the final mix sounds in a Mercedes-Benz and introduce the seal “Approved in a Mercedes-Benz” as a gold standard of sound. 

This is made possible by the integration of Dolby Atmos immersive audio into the optional Burmester® high-end 4D and 3D sound systems with the latest MBUX generation. UMG additionally plans to set up a studio environment in Sindelfingen, Germany, based on its Capitol Studios’ Studio C, a major global reference music studio for Dolby Atmos mixing.

Magnus Östberg, Chief Software Officer at Mercedes-Benz Group AG, said: “In-car entertainment today is much more than a high-end stereo system. A typical top-of-the-line S-Class or EQS will most likely be equipped with a Burmester High-End 4D-surround sound system with 39 speakers, plus the Hyperscreen. 

“Not to mention all the hardware and software to make it work together. This is how we at Mercedes-Benz create desire: seamlessly combining technology to amaze the user. For this, we look to both inside our organisation as well as to valued external partners who can bring new innovations to our vehicles.”

Partnership with ZYNC 

Making its North American premiere, the Mercedes-Benz partnership with digital entertainment platform ZYNC brings seamless in-car content streaming to a new level. Both companies took advantage of the CES 2023 tech talks to announce details of the collaboration, which brings new, curated content and embedded streaming specific to the North American market. 

Joining Magnus Östberg was ZYNC founder and CEO Rana June (RJ). She explained how ZYNC combines all streaming services seamlessly on a single platform, allowing passengers to stream content onto their screens while travelling and to all occupants when parked.

The CES 2023 Mercedes-Benz tech talks from the show are available to watch at Mercedes me media.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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