A new joint venture established by BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis will build a new North American electric vehicle charging network on a scale designed to compete with Tesla’s industry-benchmark Supercharger network. The 30,000-plus planned new chargers will accommodate both Tesla’s almost-standard North American Charging System (NACS) and existing automakers’ Combined Charging System (CCS) options, effectively guaranteeing compatibility with the vast majority of current and upcoming electric models — whether they’re from one of the involved automakers or not.
“With the generational investments in public charging being implemented on the Federal and State level, the joint venture will leverage public and private funds to accelerate the installation of high-powered charging for customers. The new charging stations will be accessible to all battery-powered electric vehicles from any automaker using Combined Charging System (CCS) or North American Charging Standard (NACS) and are expected to meet or exceed the spirit and requirements of the U.S. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.”
Critically, the automakers involved will have a say in how the charging tech is implemented, guaranteeing that the hardware will play nicely with each automaker’s in-house charging systems. Hyundai and Kia, for example, were hesitant to jump on board the Tesla NACS bandwagon earlier this year over concerns that the Supercharger network is insufficient for powering the two automakers’ 800-volt charging systems; similar tech is used by Volkswagen and Porsche.
In addition to providing much-needed capacity and high-output charging for America’s growing fleet of electric cars and trucks, the new network will integrate seamlessly with each automaker’s in-app and in-vehicle features, rather than forcing customers to use third-party tools and payment systems, as is the case with some existing public charging infrastructure.
“The functions and services of the network will allow for seamless integration with participating automakers’ in-vehicle and in-app experiences, including reservations, intelligent route planning and navigation, payment applications, transparent energy management and more. In addition, the network will leverage Plug & Charge technology to further enhance the customer experience,” the announcement said.
Stations will be built first near major metro areas and transit hubs, then along highly trafficked commuter and vacation routes. They will be “focused on customer comfort and charging ease, the stations will be in convenient locations offering canopies wherever possible and amenities such as restrooms, food service and retail operations either nearby or within the same complex.”
“A select number of flagship stations will be equipped with additional amenities, delivering a premier experience designed to showcase the future of charging,” the announcement continued. The JV partners say that they intend for the energy sourced for the new chargers to be 100% renewable.
Tesla currently operates 40,000 “Supercharger” charging stalls worldwide. The first joint-venture chargers are expected to open in the U.S. in the summer of 2024; more will follow in both the U.S. and Canada.