Mercedes, BMW to establish JV for high-power charging network in China

Mercedes, BMW to establish JV for high-power charging network in China

Automotive News Europe — 2023-11-30

Automotive Industry

Mercedes-Benz and BMW plan to establish a joint venture for operating a high-power charging network in China.

At least 1,000 high-power charging stations with around 7,000 charging piles are expected to be installed in China by the end of 2026, Mercedes said in a statement.

The move is catching up to Tesla’s more than 1,600 existing charging locations in China.

Mercedes said the first stations are scheduled to start operating in 2024 in regions with higher sales of electric vehicles.

BMW and Mercedes, which already work with others on the Ionity fast-charging rollout in Europe, plan to open up its chargers in China to a broad range of EV brands. Some services like online reservations will be exclusive to its customers.

China is leading the global transition to electric cars, pushed by the swift rollout of an infrastructure that now counts 715,000 ultra-fast connectors according to data compiled by BloombergNEF, almost 12 times the number of high-speed chargers available in Europe.

The country is the most important single market for BMW and Mercedes, which are trying to defend sales against local manufacturers. Although BMW's deliveries in China declined in the third quarter, the company sees itself unaffected by an EV price war there. Mercedes in October warned about "brutal" price competition and reported a drop in third-quarter margins.

Both automakers also are still bracing for the possibility that trade terms with China could worsen after the European Commission started a probe into Beijing’s support for its EV industry.

While China has extended tax breaks to lift sales of EVs, some homegrown manufacturers such as Nio are doubling down to reduce costs and jobs as they continue to post losses.