Recognizing consumer apprehensions about the future of electric vehicles (EVs), a consortium of automakers has taken steps to address the issue.
On Wednesday, seven leading global automakers declared their collaboration on a project to develop a fast-charging network for EVs. They plan to activate the first charging stations in the United States by the summer of 2024, with subsequent installations planned for Canada.
Honda CR-V Snapshot
The collaboration includes major industry players like BMW Group, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz Group, and Stellantis NV. According to AutoMotorMart, the founding automakers have stated their openness to incorporating additional members from both inside and outside the automotive industry. Notably, Ford and Volkswagen Group are absent from the initial lineup.
The collaborating companies will govern the joint venture autonomously, preserving equal rights among themselves. Further details concerning the organizational structure will be disclosed in due course. Subject to regulatory approval, the joint venture, which is still unnamed, is expected to be officially established in 2023.
The venture aims to set up at least 30,000 fast chargers strategically located in urban and highway areas, emphasizing reliability, integration, speed, and amenities. Their goal is to establish the most dependable network of fast chargers across North America.
Each charging station will deliver a minimum of 350 kW and will be compatible with both CCS and Tesla’s NACS connectors. The stations will feature amenities such as canopies, restrooms, and food service or retail operations, similar to traditional gas stations, where feasible. The more advanced, flagship charging stations will offer additional services for a premium experience, details of which are yet to be unveiled.
All EVs will have access to these chargers, but vehicles manufactured by the founding automakers will have special integrations, such as the ability to make reservations, plug-and-charge, and avail of automated billing. The automakers will also incorporate features within their smartphone apps and in-car infotainment systems for comprehensive navigation, route planning, and energy management.
Though the coalition has confirmed universal EV access to the charging network, they refrained from commenting on potential price differences for vehicles from other automakers. They assured that the pricing will be competitive with existing networks. However, it was suggested that pricing might be independently set by each mobility service provider, hinting at a potential franchise-like structure akin to present-day gas stations.
The venture will comply with or surpass the requirements of President Biden’s U.S. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program. It is also considering collaboration with local governments and potential public funding sources.
Mercedes-Benz spokesperson Melinda Mernovage asserted that the joint venture will not affect Mercedes-Benz’s own EV charging network, announced earlier in January. Their independent network aims to set up over 10,000 chargers by the end of this decade, with more than 400 stations operational in North America by 2027, in partnership with ChargePoint.
Similarly, Darryll Harrison, General Motors spokesperson, confirmed that the collaborative initiative won’t impact GM’s 350-kW charging network, announced in 2022. In collaboration with Pilot Company and EVgo, GM aims to establish 2,000 charging bays across 500 Pilot and Flying J rest stops, with certain locations becoming operational in 2023. Furthermore, GM and EVgo plan to install over 3,250 high-speed chargers in U.S. cities and suburbs by the end of 2025, with an end goal of setting up chargers every 50 miles across the country.
While attempts to reach Ford and ChargePoint for comment were unsuccessful, Electrify America mentioned that it would soon release a statement. A Volkswagen spokesperson declined to comment. It is important to note that Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group America, established in the aftermath of the Dieselgate scandal.