What happens when BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis join forces to charge electric vehicles? It’s not the premise for an elaborate car joke, but the making of a high-profile joint venture to establish a nationwide charging network—and one not affiliated with only one brand (Tesla).
The seven automakers announced Wednesday a plan to build a network of at least 30,000 high-powered chargers using CCS (Combined Charging System) or NACS (North American Charging Standard) plugs. The network will start in the U.S. along highways and in major metro areas. The first stations are expected to open next summer and expand to Canada later. This new open network doesn’t yet have a name.
The consortium of automakers laid out plans for stations with canopies for shade and amenities like restrooms and restaurants and shops, similar to gas stations. The idea is for any EV no matter the manufacturer to plug into the chargers seamlessly and work with each OEM’s native charging apps and onboard software.
The new network comes as a steady stream of automakers have recently announced switching from the common CCS plug to Tesla’s NACS, which is the connector found at Tesla’s Supercharger stations around the country. From Tesla’s recent earnings report, the company has 5,265 stations globally. The stations are Tesla exclusive, but the EV maker has started opening it up to other EVs.
General Motors, with its Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC brands with a growing number of EVs like the Chevy Equinox and Blazer EVs, was quick to plan for Tesla adapters in 2024 before making its EVs with the NACS connector starting in 2025. Mercedes announced a similar switch to the Tesla standard on July 7, on the heels of Volvo, Polestar and Rivian.
The new network marks the first time Honda, Hyundai or Kia have waded into the charger infrastructure debate so directly. Honda’s first U.S.-market EVs, the Prologue and Acura ZDX, are collaborations with GM, so that connection is clear.
Hyundai Motor Company President Chang Jae-hoon indicated as recently as two weeks ago that the company was debating the use of the NACS. “We must consider how helpful it would be to our customers if we used Tesla’s standards and verify whether the charging efficiency is effective,” Chang said during a Q&A at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed, adding, “Tesla also has a lot to help us with.”
Noticeably absent from the new network: Ford. The Blue Oval was the first major player to announce the switch to Tesla’s system and has been speculated as a potential outside partner for Tesla’s advanced driver system, controversially known as Full-Self Driving. Ford CEO Jim Farley has been noticeably friendly with Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
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