New Automaker Super-Alliance Plans to Nearly Double EV Chargers Across America
BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis are going all in on EV infrastructure.
2023 has marked some fairly big changes in how future EVs will charge across the U.S. Between Toyota committing to 900 miles of range in its fast-charging solid-state batteries and automakers abandoning the CCS charging standard, there are a lot of upcoming changes aimed at making EV adoption easier for the masses.
On Wednesday morning, seven major automakers announced their contribution to that same cause by establishing a new charging network. BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis have teamed up in a new venture that could nearly double the current number of DC fast chargers currently deployed across the U.S.
The joint venture, which has yet to be given a public name, has committed to installing 30,000 "high-powered" charge points across North America to support the rapidly growing EV market. Each location will have somewhere between 10 and 20 DC fast chargers capable of delivering up to 350 kilowatts of power over both the CCS and NACS charging standards.
The program emphasizes that it intends to use both public and private funds to accelerate the installation of the charging network. It also states that the plan is "expected to meet or exceed the spirit and requirements of the U.S. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program." This means that each charging location must be able to charge four vehicles at 150 kW at the same time while being one mile or less from established highway corridors.
Of those partnering for the program, only GM and Mercedes-Benz have committed to equipping future vehicles with the NACS standard charging port (alongside Tesla, Ford, Rivian, Volvo, Polestar, and Nissan). This, combined with the number of existing vehicles on the road with CCS ports and NEVI requirements, could explain why the charging network will feature both connectors.
It is believed that this investment into the charging infrastructure will help accelerate the adoption of EVs on U.S. roads by making the public's experience with charging electric cars more streamlined.
It also aims to place these charging locations nearby amenities for customers—this means restrooms, retail stores, as well as restaurants and other eateries—to make it easier for customers to take a break from the road while plugged in. The venture also intends to equip charging stations with canopies where possible and power all charging with renewable energy. It also plans to roll out several flagship charging stations with "additional amenities" that will "showcase the future of charging."
The first chargers will open in the U.S. during the summer of 2024, while Canada is slotted for a "later phase" of the rollout. Placement of the chargers will begin in major metropolitan areas first, aimed at providing another place to charge along major highways and popular vacation routes. The network is also said to integrate seamlessly with participating automakers' in-car navigation, energy management, and payment solutions (including plug-and-charge functionality).
Today, there are 32,454 DC fast charging ports across the U.S. and 20,383 of those chargers belong to Tesla (meaning they mostly feature NACS charging connectors, not CCS—though Tesla is working to begin retrofitting its chargers with the Magic Dock CCS connector). There are also 2.3 million EVs currently on the road, meaning that the current ratio of chargers to cars is around 1 charger to 72 vehicles. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that as many as 42 million EVs will be on the road by 2030, meaning that the existing charging network will have to grow by more than 500% to support the estimated need for 182,000 chargers nationwide.
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