Mercedes-Benz plans to build a global network of 10,000 ultra-fast chargers in the latest effort by traditional automakers to rival Tesla as the electric-vehicle leader.
Mercedes will begin adding the first stations this year in North America and later expand to Europe and China, the company said Thursday. The units will have as much as 350 kilowatts of power, enough to add 20 miles of range per minute. Tesla operates more than 40,000 Superchargers, with its V3 stations usually having as much as 250 kilowatts of power.
"Our customers deserve a compelling charging experience that makes electric vehicle ownership and long-distance travel effortless," Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius said. "We won't take a wait-and-see approach for this to be built."
The foray ties into Mercedes' push to spend more than $42.5 billion to electrify its lineup and by the end of the decade, halve its greenhouse gas emissions compared with 2018 levels. The German company may tap aid in the U.S., where the Biden administration has unveiled $7.5 billion in grants to add 500,000 chargers. Countries in Europe are also pushing to add such infrastructure to aid the shift away from the combustion engine.
Mercedes will build the network with partners including solar power firm MN8 Energy. Stations will be placed near major cities and highways. In the U.S., the investment will be about $1 billion over the next six to seven years, Mercedes said, with the carmaker and MN8 splitting the cost. By the end of that period at the latest, the carmaker expects the operation to be profitable.
Mercedes is shifting its focus toward higher-margin vehicles to help pay for its shift to EVs. The company plans to pare back its suite of entry-level cars and channel investment toward premium models like its flagship S-Class sedan and G-Class sport utility vehicle.
Developing its own charging network will support the luxury-first strategy, Mercedes said. While drivers of rival cars will be able to use the chargers, Mercedes' customers will get preferential access to avoid waiting times.
In its combustion-engine lineup, Mercedes is recalling nearly 324,000 vehicles in the U.S. because the engines can stall while being operated.
The recall covers a range of models from 2012 to 2020 including the ML550, ML350, AMG ML63, ML250, ML400, GLE450, GLE300, GLE350, GLE550, GLE400, AMG GLE43 and AMG GLE63.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted in documents posted Thursday that water can accumulate in the spare tire wheel well of the vehicles and damage the fuel pump control unit. That can make the engines stall.
Dealers will check for water intrusion, install a drain plug and replace the fuel pump if needed. Owners will be notified by letter starting Feb. 21.
Mercedes says in documents that it's aware of 773 U.S. warranty claims, field reports and service reports of the problem. The company says it's not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by the defect.
Information for this report was contributed by staff of The Associated Press.