ChargePoint is pushing the boundaries for fast charging in the US. It has inaugurated a cutting-edge platform, the Express Plus Power Link 2000, capable of delivering speeds up to 500 kW. Mercedes is the first customer under the umbrella of a previously announced collaboration for the rollout of a branded fast-charging network.
It’s somewhat of a muscle-rolling affair. As no electric car is currently capable of fast charging at 500 kW, the record-breaking peak rate is more of a showcase of what Chargepoint and Mercedes are capable of. And, of course, in real life, speeds usually settle for lower, while a bit of preparation for the future can’t hurt.
But while awaiting more capable EVs, Express Plus Power Link 2000 is trying to solve those issues with speed fluctuations. It features a modular architecture based on ‘Power Blocks’, each accommodating up to five ‘Power Modules’ to achieve desired charging specifications. ChargePoint isn’t generous with details, but the setup reminds one of Volkswagen’s collaboration with E.ON, where battery storage provides stable charging levels. But only up to 150 kW in that case.
According to ChargePoint, the solution makes it possible to charge two cars simultaneously at a peak speed of 500 kW. That high speed is “sustained,” according to the company. Read: guaranteed. Eventually, the proof will be in eating the pudding, but the technology is promising.
Snacks and a sofa
The first customer for the new generation charging pillars from Chargepoint is Mercedes, which has started building its propriety network around the concept of ‘lounge charging’ in the US. Drivers can enjoy snacks, beverages, free wifi, and a comfy sofa in nearby amenities.
Yesterday, Mercedes inaugurated its first of those hubs in Atlanta, next to its North American headquarters (pictured above). However, Mercedes claims a peak rate of 400 kW (still 50 kW more than initially announced) for this site. It’s a pilot case, which its staff will primarily visit, though other customers and vehicles from rival brands are admitted. The only prerequisite is that the cars are compatible with NACS or CCS1.
But only Mercedes drivers can benefit from ChargePoints software linked to their brand’s app, with enhancements that include a reservation system for preferential charger access and automatic payment functionality through Plug & Charge, offering a seamless customer experience. Additionally, current EQ owners receive six months of complimentary charging, while 2024 model-year EQ EV drivers enjoy two years of free charging.
A global goal
The inaugurated Georgia hub sets the stage for Mercedes-Benz’s $1 billion investment plan in its HiPower network, earmarked for constructing and operating more than 2,000 fast-charging hubs worldwide by the end of the decade.
Aside from the HiPower network, Mercedes-Benz will further cement its charging network’s retail presence in the region through agreements with Simon. This real estate investment trust owns numerous shopping malls and convenience stores. The collaboration will see the installation of 85 additional charging hubs by the end of 2024.