In an unprecedented move, seven of the world’s top automakers are creating a joint venture to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles in North America.
BMW Group, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz Group and Stellantis issued a joint statement, saying the companies have the common goal of making EV charging more convenient, accessible and reliable.
The first charging stations from the joint venture are scheduled to open in the U.S. during the summer 2024 and will be accessible to all EV customers from any automaker, offering both Combined Charging System (CCS) and North American Charging Standard (NACS) connectors. Stations in Canada will follow.
The currently unnamed joint venture will include the development of a new, high-powered charging network with at least 30,000 chargers to make zero-emission driving even more attractive for millions of customers in urban and highway locations.
Two large automakers are notably absent from the group -- Ford Motor Co. and Toyota. Ford was the first automaker to announce it is planning to switch from CCS to NACS connectors, which would allow access to the large Tesla Supercharger network.
Two of the JV’s automakers, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, also recently announced plans to switch from CCS to NACS connectors. Other non-JV automakers to also announce the connector change including Nissan, Volvo, Polestar and Rivian.
The network will allow for integration with participating automakers’ in-vehicle and in-app experiences, including reservations, intelligent route planning and navigation, payment applications and transparent energy management.
The stations will be in convenient locations offering canopies wherever possible, with amenities such as restrooms, food service and retail operations either nearby or within the same complex.
The joint venture aims to become the leading network of reliable high-powered charging stations in North America, rivaling EV maker Tesla and its supercharger stations that for years have only been available to Tesla vehicles which were built with NACS connectors.
“GM’s commitment to an all-electric future is focused not only on delivering EVs our customers love, but investing in charging and working across the industry to make it more accessible,” says GM CEO Mary Barra in a statement. "The better experience people have, the faster EV adoption will grow.”
North America is one of the world’s most important car markets, with the potential to be a leader in electromobility, says BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse.
“Accessibility to high-speed charging is one of the key enablers to accelerate this transition,” Zipse says in a release.
The joint venture will leverage public and private funds to accelerate the installation of high-powered charging for customers. The venture is expected to be established this year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.
As more electric vehicles are introduced and the rate of consumer adoption increases, the demand for fast and reliable public charging also grows in parallel, according to the automakers.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as of July 2023, there are 32,000 publicly available DC fast chargers in the United States for use by 2.3 million electric vehicles, a ratio of 72 vehicles per charger. The NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) estimates that 182,000 DC fast chargers will be needed to support 30-42 million plug-in vehicles expected on the road by 2030.
Initial plans call for the deployment of charging stations in metropolitan areas and along major highways, including connecting corridors and vacation routes, aiming to offer a charging station wherever people may choose to live, work and travel.
The fight against climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, says Mercedes-Benz Group CEO Ola Källenius. “To accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, we’re in favor of anything that makes life easier for our customers. Charging is an inseparable part of the EV-experience, and this network will be another step to make it as convenient as possible.”