Electronics and Semiconductors

7 automotive OEMs to develop North American EV charging network

27 July 2023
EV charging network is designed to make EVs more accessible and reliable to consumers as more attractive to drivers looking to transition to electrified models. Source: Kenpower

Seven automotive OEMs — BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis — will create a joint venture to build a fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) network in North America.

The EV charging network will have at least 30,000 chargers with the goal to make EVs more accessible and reliable as well as more attractive to drivers looking to make the transition to electrified models.

According to the companies, the joint venture formed by the companies will leverage public and private funding to accelerate the installation of high-powered charging. The chargers will be accessible to all battery powered EVs from any automaker. The charging network will use both combined charging system (CCS) and Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS). The chargers are expected to meet or exceed the requirements of the U.S. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.

The JV is expected to be established later this year subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

“North America is one of the world’s most important car markets – with the potential to be a leader in electromobility,” said Oliver Zipse, CEO of BMW Group. “Accessibility to high-speed charging is one of the key enablers to accelerate this transition. Therefore, seven automakers are forming this joint venture with the goal of creating a positive charging experience for EV consumers.”

The first stations

According to the seven companies, the first charging stations are expected to debut in the summer of 2024 and in Canada at a later date.

Each site will be equipped with multiple fast-charging DC chargers to make long-distance EV traveling easier. According to the companies, the goal is to power each of these charging stations solely using renewable energy.

The stations will be in convenient locations with other services such as restrooms, food services and retail operations either nearby or in the same complex. Many of the locations will be placed in metropolitan areas and along major highways that connect corridors and vacation routes.

Other features of the network include:

  • Reservations
  • Intelligent route planning and navigation
  • Payment applications
  • Energy management

Why it matters

The automotive industry is currently undergoing its largest transition in history, moving from internal combustion engine vehicles to primarily electrified fleets.

Recently, numerous automotive OEMs in North America have adopted the NACS connector giving access to Tesla’s 12,000 fast-charge points in North America. Additionally, SAE International said it will standardize NACS connector due to recent support. Simultaneously, third-party EV charging vendors have thrown in support for NACS either earlier this year or shortly after Ford, General Motors and Volvo said they would adopt the connector.

In North America — at least in the short term — automotive OEMs are lining up to get as much infrastructure for EVs as possible due to increased demand and government mandates to switch to more climate friendly vehicles.

The quickest way to do this is to adopt Tesla’s 12,000 fast chargers that are already installed as well as use chargers installed by either automotive OEMs or third-party vendors. This new network will continue to expand access to EV charging stations that will hopefully meet demand that automotive OEMs believe is coming as they transition to EVs.

“The alliance shows commitment to the EV movement and how it plays in these automakers’ overall business,” said Aatish Patel president of EV charging vendor XCharge North America. “What’s nice to see is that it’s a global alliance, a uniform conjunction. There’s opportunity for OEMs like us at the end of the day, we just need to understand their vision.”

Patel added the commitment shown by the automotive OEMs is strong, but the stations need to be deployed in an effective manner to spur adoption.

“You can’t just place 350 Kw chargers everywhere — that won’t solve the needs of today’s EV market,” Patel said.

Chargers needed

Another reason this is an important step is that according to a recent survey from J.D. Power, a lack of charging stations may hinder the adoption of EVs.

The American data analytics firm said that nearly half of the people it surveyed cited lack of EV charging stations as the top reason for rejection of EVs as their next car purchase. Additionally, those drivers surveyed said that public charging infrastructure was a concern already due to the consistent low satisfaction scores among consumers.

This backs up data from the U.S. Department of Energy that said this month that there are 32,000 public DC fast chargers in the U.S. for use by the 2.3 million EVs on the road. This is a 72 vehicle per charger radio.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) said that 182,000 DC fast chargers will be needed to support 30 million to 42 million plug-in vehicles expected to be on the road by 2030.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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