Being a latecomer to the electric vehicle market has its advantage.
While upstart Tesla Inc. single-handedly built a global network of fast chargers to reassure its EV buyers, newcomer Mercedes-Benz could take a more capital-efficient approach — relying on the investments of others.
Mercedes says it plans to ride a wave of third-party charging infrastructure investment, as retail giants, utilities, landlords and private companies install EV charging stations.
"I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense if we, as Mercedes, now try to build a network of thousands of charging stations," Mercedes-Benz USA chief Dietmar Exler told Automotive News last week. "I am not sure that we are going to go down that route."
Retailer Target Corp. will put EV charging stations in more than 100 locations in more than 20 states over the next two years. Walmart Inc. will have charging stations at 100 stores in 34 states by mid-2019. Retailers see vehicle charging infrastructure as a way to lure shoppers and boost their green credentials.
Office building landlords are installing chargers to attract tech company tenants whose environmentally conscious millennial employees are more likely to drive EVs. Even utilities are getting into the charging station game as they position to become tomorrow's fuel providers.