Tech Insights

Driving the EV Charging Revolution: Automakers Forge NA Charging Network to Compete With Tesla

August 09, 2023 by Kevin Clemens

A collaborative effort aims to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and rival Tesla's Supercharger infrastructure.

One of the accepted “truths” about electric vehicles (EVs) is that an extensive, reliable nationwide charging network is an absolute necessity if the EV market is to grow. 

 

EV charging space.

EV charging space. Image used courtesy of Ken Fields www.kenfields.net, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Tesla recognized this early and began developing its Supercharger network in 2012. Since then, several companies like Electrify America, ChargePoint, and EVgo have been created to meet growing EV charging needs.

Now, seven major automakers are coming together to establish an extensive EV charging network across North America. General Motors, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, and Stellantis are teaming up to build a network of fast chargers they claim will rival Tesla's and significantly increase the number of quick-charging plugs in the United States and Canada. 

This collaborative effort involves a multibillion-dollar investment to create DC fast charging (DCFC) stations with a target of at least 30,000 plugs in urban areas and along travel routes by 2030.

 

Dispelling Concerns Over Lack of Charging Infrastructure

The initiative's primary aim is to dispel concerns about the lack of charging infrastructure for long-distance travel. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 80 percent of EV charging is done at home. Yet, one of the biggest obstacles to EV acceptance is consumer concern about a lack of public charging infrastructure that can be accessed during cross-country travel. The participating companies have yet to disclose the exact number of charging stations and financial specifics of the joint venture or its name. They have stated that the first chargers in the U.S. will be operational by the summer of 2024.

 

Video used courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy 

 

The automakers issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to establishing a leading reliable network of DCFC charging stations in North America. While they did not reveal precise investment figures, the founding automakers are working as equals to ensure the joint venture's success.

There are approximately 8,700 direct-current fast-charging stations with nearly 36,000 charging plugs in the U.S. and Canada. However, adding 30,000 more plugs will still leave a significant demand for chargers. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that approximately 182,000 fast chargers will be necessary by 2030.

DC fast chargers can charge a battery to 80 percent capacity in 20 minutes to an hour, making them suitable for travel routes and comparable to refueling a gas-powered car. These chargers are much faster than the Level 2 chargers that many EV chargers have installed at home, and that can take several hours to fully charge a battery.

 

Rivalling Tesla

The newly planned network is expected to have 10 to 20 charging plugs per station, resulting in a minimum of 1,500 stations and potentially up to 3,000. In comparison, Tesla's network has 2,050 stations and over 22,000 plugs in the U.S. and Canada, making it the largest fast-charging network in North America. The automakers' network will be public and accessible to all EV owners, accommodating both Tesla's North American Charging Standard (NACS) plugs and the Combined Charging System (CCS) plugs used by other automakers.

The automakers have committed to using renewable energy sources to power the chargers, and they will strategically locate the stations with canopies and amenities like restrooms, food services, and nearby stores for convenience.

 

Seven major automakers are coming together to establish an extensive EV charging network across North America. General Motors, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, and Stellantis are teaming up to build a network of fast chargers they claim will rival Tesla's and significantly increase the number of quick-charging plugs in the United States and Canada. 

 

The existing charging network, created by various companies, has been expanding but remains unreliable and often located in inconvenient areas. As a result, some automakers, including Ford and General Motors, have entered agreements with Tesla to utilize its extensive network of fast chargers. In addition, many of these automakers are also working on building their charging infrastructure.

 

Growing Electrification

To help fund the network's development, the automakers plan to seek financial support from the U.S. government through the bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022. This announcement is linked to policies promoting domestic EV manufacturing and increasing EV sales to combat climate change.

Electric vehicle sales have steadily risen in the U.S., accounting for 7.2 percent of all new vehicle sales during the first half of the year. Industry analysts forecast that EV sales could surpass one million for the first time this year. It is predicted that EVs will capture 14.4 percent of the market by 2025 and could reach close to 50 percent by 2030.