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Mercedes-Benz partners with Chargify for 127 strong EQ network

By Lance Branquinho

CHANGING infrastructure is fundamental to the EV customer experience, and Mercedes-Benz South African (MBSA) has committed to more than 100 new charging stations throughout the country. 

The world’s original automotive company has an entrenched presence in South Africa knows the local luxury vehicle market. MBSA has been assembling vehicles in South Africa since the early 1960s. As the company’s local and global product portfolios become increasingly powertrain aligned to EVs, new challenges and opportunities are being created regarding customer support, especially for a luxury vehicle brand in a country with electricity generation and distribution issues. 

MBSA has ambitious plans for its local EV sales, predicting that 50% of all new Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles sold in 2026 will be battery-powered. As a luxury vehicle brand, MBSA knows that its customers expect a seamless ownership experience, whether they choose petrol, diesel or battery-powered vehicles. To enhance the ownership experience of its EV drivers, Mercedes-Benz is creating a new EQ charging network. 

Partnering with Chargify, 127 charging stations will constitute the EQ network, with a project value of R40 million, developing through two phases. The initial rollout will create 67 charging stations by April, costing R15 million. Bringing the MBSA EQ charging project to fulfilment will be phase two, priced at R25 million, delivering the balance of 60 additional charging stations. 

Unlike in Europe, driving distances and infrastructure spread are much greater in South Africa. That makes it challenging for EV product planners to anticipate where their charging assets should go. South African driving distances are vast, cruising speeds are high, and scenic detours are frequent when travelling for leisure, as luxury car customers often do. All these factors challenge vehicle range and influence the strategy and investment regarding recharging distribution. 

With many of South Africa’s most desirable weekend getaway and vacation venues being in rural areas, it’s unsurprising that MBSA is building new EQ charging stations at Champagne Castle in the Drakensberg, Highwaymans in Pilgrims Rest and the Swartberg Hotel, in Prince Albert.  

The automotive industry’s battery capacity is improving, with the latest Mercedes-Benz EVs delivering an average driving range beyond 400 km. Some of the EQ charging station locations might appear curious, but they reflect a deep analysis into the driving behaviour of Mercedes-Benz’s luxury vehicle owners. 

Globally, the Tesla Supercharger network has proven the value of high-potency EV charging. In the world’s most valuable EV market, California, driving distances, topography and environmental conditions are remarkably similar to South Africa. Tesla’s Supercharging network has prevailed in California, because of its potency, with many V2 chargers rated at 150 kW and the brand’s V4 recharging stations producing 250 kW. 

The latest Mercedes-Benz EVs feature electrical architectures which allow for rapid recharging, often way beyond the rating of many local recharging stations. MBSA realises that customers want to use all the technology available with their EVs; therefore, several 150 kW chargers are part of the EQ charging rollout.

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