Automakers have heard consumer's concerns regarding the future and EVs, and a group of them intend to fix the problem.
On Wednesday, a coalition of seven of the world's leading automakers announced a joint venture to create a fast-charging network for EVs with the first stations powering up in the U.S. during the summer of 2024 with stations to follow later in Canada.
The coalition of seven automakers includes BMW Group, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz Group, and Stellantis NV. The group told Motor Authority the founding automakers will remain open to additional members both from in and outside the automotive industry. Notably, Ford and Volkswagen Group are absent from the founding members list.
The joint venture will operate independently from the founding automakers with equal rights retained. More details regarding the organizational structure will be announced in the future. The group expects the joint venture, which has yet to receive a formal name, to be established during 2023 pending regulatory approval.
Targeting at least 30,000 fast chargers, the group said charge points will be located both in urban and highway locations with a focus on reliability, integration, speed, and amenities. The aim is to become the leading network of reliable fast chargers in North America.
Every charger will be a minimum of 350 kw and feature both CCS and Tesla's NACS connectors. Where able, charging stations will feature canopies, restrooms, and either food service or retail operations nearby or on site, like a gas station. Flagship charging stations will feature additional amenities and what is being called a premier experience, but no details were shared.
All EVs will be have access to the chargers, though vehicles made by the founding automakers will feature seamless integration including the ability to place reservations, plug-and-charge, and automated billing. Automakers involved in the venture also noted integration within their smartphone apps, vehicle infotainment systems for full navigation and route planning functions along with energy management.
While all EVs will have access to the chargers the automakers wouldn't comment on whether vehicles from other automakers would pay a higher rate for charging. Pricing will be comparable and competitive to today's existing networks, the group said. The coalition did tell MA that prices will be set independently by each mobility service provider, hinting there might be some sort of franchise-like structure like today's gas stations.
The venture, which said it will meet and or exceed President Biden's U.S. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program requirements, will be evaluating options in terms of working with local government and public funding.
Mercedes-Benz spokesperson Melinda Mernovage said the joint venture doesn't change or impact Mercedes-Benz's own EV charging network announced in January. That network aims to launch more than 10,000 chargers by the end of the decade with over 400 stations operational in North America by 2027. The German automaker's working with ChargePoint to setup its network.
General Motors spokesperson Darryll Harrison said the joint venture also won't affect its 350-kw charging network announced in 2022. GM teamed up with Pilot Company and EVgo to build a network of 2,000 charging bays across 500 Pilot and Flying J rest stops with some sites set to be operational in 2023. In addition, GM and EVgo are adding over 3,250 high-speed chargers in U.S. cities and suburbs by the end of 2025. The end goal is to have chargers at 50-mile intervals across the country.
Ford spokesperson Martin Gunsberg told MA that the automaker's BlueOval Charge Network (which is essentially a patchwork of partnerships Ford has with charging networks) is the single largest integrated fast-charing network in the U.S. and Canada. Gunsberg also noted Ford's partnership with Tesla, which will enable the use of Superchargers for Ford in 2024.
Toyota Spokesperson Michael Kroll had nothing to announce at this time when asked why Toyota isn't part of the joint venture and if it had been part of the talks.
Electrify America spokesperson Octavio Navarro told MA the charging company felt this joint venture is a positive step for the industry. ”The demand for public charging stations in North America will continue to grow as EV ownership becomes mainstream. This announcement further validates our network business model of reaching consumers in urban and highway areas. We believe the momentum in meeting the need for EV charging infrastructure is a positive development for consumers.”
A Volkswagen spokesperson said "no comment," though Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group America as part of the Dieselgate aftermath.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect statements from Toyota, Ford, and Electrify America.