Tesla has long dominated DC fast-charging for electric vehicles in the United States, having many years ago taken the lead in EV sales and building their Supercharger network to support it. Today there are more than 30,000 Supercharger chargers installed at stations all over the United States (and the rest of the world too), but a new move by a coalition of American automakers wants to challenge that — and that's good news for everyone!
The partnership between BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, and Stellantis is one of the most important recent developments in the EV landscape. These seven automakers committed to building 30,000 of their own DC fast chargers in urban areas and along highways, with $1 billion of their own money and $7.5 billion of federal funding from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program. The first chargers are expected to be installed staring next year, with the intention of hitting that 30,000 mark by 2030.
And they don't plan on putting these chargers in the middle of nowhere — you can expect this not-yet-named partnership to place its charging stations near food, retail, and restroom establishments. Though the NEVI program mandates the inclusion of CCS connectors, as most of this coalition of automakers has chosen to adopt the Tesla-created NACS connector you can expect to see that as an option as well.
There are some surprising and not surprising absences from this list of companies, though it's possible others may join the venture on their own. Ford, the first major company to adopt the NACS connector after Tesla isn't on the list despite being the #2 seller of EVs in the United States. VW's absence isn't surprising, since they are the majority shareholder of competitor Electrify America. Tesla's absence is also no surprise — they've invested billions into building out the Supercharger network that inspired these rivals. And Toyota? They still seem to think that hydrogen fuel cell cars will be a thing. That's not to say that none of these companies couldn't eventually join this party, but their absences are notable nonetheless.
They want to rival Tesla's Supercharger network and that's good news for all EV drivers, including Tesla owners.
That this announcement comes on the heels of many of these companies announcing the future adoption of the NACS plug and partnerships to provide their vehicles access to Tesla Supercharger stations isn't much of a surprise. The partnerships with Tesla will put a lot of money into Tesla's coffers, which Tesla will pump back into their business selling cars in direct competition with all of them.
Notably, the coalition has pledged that charger reliability will be one of their key goals, as that's plagued many non-Tesla charging networks. They also plan to implement an upcoming federal "plug and charge" standard that will allow drivers to simply plug in their car and start charging without having to negotiate a disparate ecosystem of apps and accounts to make payments happen — it'll all happen automatically between your car and the charger. And to ensure any EV charging at these stations gets to keep its green credentials, they've pledged to power these stations with 100% renewable energy.
Overall, though, this is great news for all EV owners. This is a massive investment in money and effort that will significantly expand access to EV chargers around the United States. And because they'll all have NACS and CCS connectors, almost every EV already on the road will be able to plug in and charge at them — Teslas included. This is just a start of what the US is going to need, however. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that by 2030 there will be up to 42 million EVs on US roads and they'll need 182,000 fast chargers to support long-distance travel and a million slower Level 2 chargers at stores and workplaces (plus 27 million chargers installed in houses and apartment buildings).