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Major automakers launch new EV charging network in challenge to Tesla

Miranda Nazzaro

Jul 26, 2023

A group of seven major automakers are launching a new electric vehicle (EV) charging network across North America, saying it would nearly double the number of fast-charging plugs in the U.S. and Canada, rivaling Tesla’s own network.

Global automakers BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis N.V. announced the joint venture Wednesday, saying it is projected to have at least 30,000 high-powered charging plugs in urban areas and along highways.

The automakers said the “unprecedented” effort seeks to establish the leading network of “reliable high-powered” charging stations in North America, nearly doubling the number of charging plugs available. The stations are slated to open in summer 2024.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates about 36,000 charging plugs are currently available in the U.S. and Canada across some 9,000 direct-current fast-charging stations.

As it stands, Tesla’s network has the largest number of fast chargers in North America, with 2,050 stations and more than 22,000 plugs, according to the federal government.

The group of major automakers said it intends to solely use renewable energy at the new stations, which will be available for all battery-powered electric vehicles.

Drivers will have access to both Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) plugs and Combined Charging System (CCS) plugs used by other automakers.

The announcement comes amid a push for zero-emission vehicles as the Biden administration encourages automakers to transition to electric vehicles and limit greenhouse gas emissions. The group of automakers are aiming to speed up EV adoption rates.

“To accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, we’re in favor of anything that makes life easier for our customers,” Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius said. “Charging is an inseparable part of the EV-experience, and this network will be another step to make it as convenient as possible.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with S&P Global Mobility, said the venture will help fill holes in the U.S. charging network that are preventing some drivers from getting electric vehicles and traveling long distance. 

Brinley said she does not see the venture as a threat to Tesla, but rather it being a necessity as “Tesla can’t build enough for everyone.” 

Automakers said the venture will use public and private funds but declined to disclose the specific investment numbers. When the AP asked for financial details, the companies said, “As you can imagine, such a high-powered charging network of this scale requires a multibillion-dollar investment.” 

The Hill has reached out to Tesla for a comment.

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