Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept, 2016 Paris auto show
As automakers produce electric cars in greater numbers, public charging infrastructure will become even more crucial to lure new buyers and convince them the cars can be practical.
Some automakers have already invested in charging infrastructure, while others are just starting to contemplate public charging stations for the electric cars they plan to launch.
As it prepares a major expansion of electric-car sales, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler has now invested in charging network ChargePoint.
Daimler led an investment round that raised $82 million, announced this morning, that will go toward expanding ChargePoint's operations in Europe.
A press release notes that BMW's i Ventures investment arm also participated in that funding round, and had invested in ChargePoint prior to that.
Daimler now sells only small numbers of electric cars, but its Mercedes-Benz division plans to launch 10 all-electric models by 2025 under a new "EQ" sub-brand, a counterpart to BMW i.
2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
Last year, Daimler and BMW, along with Ford and the Volkswagen Group's Audi and Porsche brands, committed to creating a new network of DC fast-charging stations in Europe.
That network will number 400 stations by 2020, all using the Combined Charging Standard protocol adopted by the automakers involved.
With this project and the ChargePoint investment, Daimler seems to be echoing BMW's approach to charging-infrastructure expansion.
That involves relying primarily on partnerships with network operators and other carmakers, rather than going it alone.
BMW's ChargeNow card gives customers access to the ChargePoint and EVgo charging networks.
The German automaker also partnered with ChargePoint and VW and EVgo and Nissan on U.S. charging-infrastructure projects.
BMW and Nissan electric car fast-charging station
Nissan has funded public charging infrastructure in the U.S. for the longest time. It has offered limited free charging to Leaf buyers through its "No Charge to Charge" program for about three years now.
VW's charging-infrastructure strategy has evolved following the settlement of its diesel-emissions scandal.
CHECK OUT: DC fast-charging in east, west coast corridors done, say VW, BMW (Sep 2016)
The automaker's "Electrify America" plan will put $2 billion toward U.S. zero-emission-vehicle infrastructure over 10 years, as part of the penalty for the diesel scandal.
Some of that infrastructure may include hydrogen fueling stations, and Volkswagen will own it all.
BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging
Meanwhile, Tesla has set the standard for a unified, frictionless automaker-backed charging infrastructure.
It continues to expand its network of DC fast-charging stations using the proprietary Supercharger standard, and is adding slower 240-volt Level 2 "destination charging" stations as well.
ALSO SEE: GM Won't Fund CCS Fast-Charging Sites For 2017 Chevy Bolt EV (Jan 2016)
At the other end of the spectrum, General Motors will not fund any DC fast-charging infrastructure for the Chevrolet Bolt EV that it launched in December.
The 238-mile Bolt EV includes CCS fast charging, but GM executives said last year that the automaker won't fund charging sites.