Seven Auto Manufacturers Form Fast EV Recharging Network

The race to end range anxiety for users of true electric vehicles is accelerating.

Early in July of this year, several major manufacturers announced they will adopt Tesla’s supercharger network, recognized internationally as being among – if not – the best in the business. Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Volvo, Polestar, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan have signed on to gain 2024 access to the 12,000 Tesla Superchargers, using a specialized adapter for the unique network.

As the hottest month on record is coming to an end, seven automakers have united to create their own high-powered charging network across North America, intending to build fast, reliable and sustainable charging stations. The proponents of this new bipartisan agreement are BMW Group, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis.

While two of the manufacturers noted in the second agreement are also parties to the first, it’s unknown at this time whether GM and M-B electric vehicle owners will be able to use both Tesla Superchargers and the new network of chargers as they travel around this continent. Are GM and M-B hedging their bets by signing on to both networks, or simply making it easier for their customers to both adopt and fully use electric vehicles?

The intent of the new network is to install more than 30,000 high-powered charge points in both urban and highway locations, ensuring electric vehicle owners can charge whenever and wherever they need and want. The focus of this new agreement is to bring an acceptable and even enjoyable customer experience through the network. This group of seven intends to provide reliable, high-powered charging capability, together with digital integration, appealing locations, along with amenities while charging. They also intend to use renewable energy for all of the locations.

The first stations, scheduled to open in the summer of 2024, are intended to be accessible to all EV customers, offering both Combined Charging System (CCS) and North American Charging Standard (NACS) connectors.

This Group of Seven plans to use both public and private funds to accelerate the installation of high-powered charging stations for customers, making them accessible to all battery-powered electric vehicles from any automaker that is using CCS or NACS, meeting or, hopefully exceeding both the spirit and the requirements of the United States’ National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (NEVI). This new program will, of course, have to go through regulatory approvals and meet customary closing conditions before the rollout.

Each recharging site will be equipped with multiple high-powered DC chargers, making long-distance journeys easier for EV owners. In line with the sustainability strategies of all seven automakers, the intent is to power the charging network solely by renewable energy. US stations are expected to open in the summer of 2024 with Canadian outlets arriving later, but hopefully in the same calendar year.

The new network is designed to provide a seamless, vehicle integrated, best-in-class charging experience that is based on renewable energy and supported by the quality, reliability and resources of these seven world-leading auto manufacturers.

Voicing concern over climate change, the stations are intended to be located in convenient spots and offer canopies whenever possible, much as most fuel stations currently do. There will be restrooms, food service and relation operations – either nearby or within the charging complex. Additionally, a finite group of flagship stations will be equipped with added amenities that showcase the future of charging. These latter amenities have not yet been designated.

Locations will be in metropolitan areas and along major highway arteries – including connecting corridors and vacation routes – with the aim of offering a charging station wherever people may choose to live, work and/or travel. In-vehicle and in-app experiences, including reservations, intelligent route planning and navigation, payment apps, transparent energy management are large parts of this program. The network intends to leverage Plug & Charge technology to further enhance the customer experience.

With more people electing to adopt full electric transportation, the need for publicly available DC fast chargers has become a huge issue. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) states there are 32,000 nationally available public chargers at this time, while there are 2.3 million electric vehicles, a ratio of 72 EVs per charger. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that, by 2030, it will be necessary to have 182,000 DC fast chargers to support between 30 and 42 million plug-in vehicles, with U.S. electric vehicle sales expected to exceed 50 percent of total U.S. sales by 2030.

The founding partners of this enterprise include BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse, GM CEO Mary Barra, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe, Hyundai CEO Jaehoon Chang, Kia CEO Ho Sung Song, Mercedes-Benz Group CEO Ola Kallenius and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.

The group states its intent to “exceed customer expectations by creating more opportunities for a seamless charging experience, given the significant growth expected in the market,” Tavares said. “GM’s commitment to an all-electric future is focused not only on delivering EVs our customers love, but investing in charging and working across the industry to make it more accessible,” Barra agreed. For both Hyundai and Kia executives, the importance in accelerating the transition to EVs must be weighed against the ability to service those machines. “We look forward to working with our other shareholders as we create this expansive high-powered charging network,” Chang concluded.

All of these manufacturers could look to current situations wherein fast-charging is set up adjacent to fuel stations, thereby satiating those continuing to use fossil fuels and those adopting the use of plug-in electric vehicles. There are currently conjoined refilling stations in many states and this joint venture would be wise to consider the use of highway oases, both to refuel gasoline-powered vehicles and those utilizing strictly electric power.

Building climate friendly oases might also allow fossil fuel companies like Shell, Mobil, Arco and others to offer financially viable terms to the many independent operators currently servicing mainstream fuel-burning vehicles to accommodate the growing electric-powered community. Solar panels for these oases would be mandatory, one assumes, and would add to the climate friendly nature intended by this joint venture.

About Anne Proffit 1246 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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