Brands Partner on EV Charging
Seven of the car companies we know well – BMW, General Motors (Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac), Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram) have announced a joint venture to create a North America-wide rapid charging network, with the goal of accelerating the transition to electric vehicles on our continent. Together, they say their collective goal Is to make EV charging more convenient, accessible, and reliable.
Improving Reliability of Public Chargers
As electric cars have started to gain more and more market share, studies have shown that the number of issues that drivers have with public charging has increased. While the vast majority of EV charging happens at home, the last thing that drivers on the go want to encounter is a charging station that is inoperable or unreliable. According to J.D. Power, that happens more frequently than anyone would like, with some states experiencing a “non-completed” charging session rate close to 20 percent.
With tremendous pressure being applied by legislation to ramp up sales of electric cars – and knowing that reliable public charging is a key consideration for potential buyers – the vehicle manufacturers have clearly decided to take their fate into their own hands. By working together, the companies say that their new high-power charging network will open at least 30,000 chargers across North America, making reliable zero-emissions driving more attractive for millions of drivers.
Doubling Fast-Charging Stations Across the U.S.
To put the scale of the automakers’ joint venture into context, the new charging network, by the time it completes the installation of 30,000 chargers would nearly double the existing number of DC fast chargers currently available in the U.S. According to the Department of Energy, as of July 2023, 32,000 publicly-available fast chargers were accessible to EV drivers, a ratio of 72 vehicles to every one charger.
The manufacturers are also taking advantage of massive support currently available from the federal and state governments to support the development of charging networks. As such, the brands say that their new stations will be accessible to all battery-powered electric vehicles from any automaker. The new stations will feature both Combined Charging System (CCS) ports, which are currently used on most non-Tesla EVs, as well as North American Charging Standard (NACS) ports which are used by Tesla vehicles, and will be used on future U.S.-market models from Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Rivian, Mercedes-Benz, and more.
Improving the Charging Experience
The name of the new joint venture, which was announced in July, has yet to be decided, as the various manufacturers involved wait for regulatory approvals; it will be established as a company in late 2023, and aims to become the leading network of reliable high-powered charging stations on the continent. The partners also say that the new charging network will elevate the entire EV experience and drive EV adoption through a seamless, vehicle-integrated, charging experience. They also promise the use of renewable energy.
From a customer experience perspective, the automakers also promise that the stations will be in convenient locations, and will offer shaded canopies, restrooms, food service options, and retail options for customers waiting for their vehicles to charge. A number of flagship charging stations will also be equipped with additional and undefined amenities. The first such stations will be deployed in large metropolitan areas and on major highways, including popular vacation routes. You can expect the first station to open in the summer of 2024 in the U.S., with Canada to follow at a later stage.
Eliminating Lines for Charging
Each charging station site will be equipped with multiple Level 3 DC fast chargers, which should make long distance drives easier for customers, as well as eliminate the lines sometimes seen at charging stations during busy times of the year. The automakers promise seamless integration with the in-vehicle and in-app tech of the different brands, allowing drivers to reserve a charger, integrate the stations into intelligent route planning, and easily manage energy use. Most importantly, by using Plug & Charge technology, payment processing will be seamless – eliminating one of the greatest frustrations of current charging networks.
It won’t be the only manufacturer-owned network. Electrify America, which already has hundreds of stations across the country, with very high-speed chargers, is partially owned by the Volkswagen Group, parent company of the Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti brands. Electrify America also has agreements for complimentary charging with many other auto brands; whether those arrangements would continue is currently unclear.