For some drivers, electric vehicles sound pretty awesome—until it comes down to charging. Range anxiety is a real thing, and while there are around 32,000 fast chargers across the US that can refill your EV’s battery in half an hour or so, that’s still quite small compared to the more than 100,000 gas stations across the US as of 2017. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that there needs to be around 182,000 fast chargers across the country by 2030 to support the 30-42 million predicted EVs on the road.
When it comes to EVs and charging them, Tesla normally makes the biggest headlines, but this time other automakers are stepping up in an Avengers-style move. This week, a coalition of seven automotive companies—BMW Group, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz Group, and Stellantis NV—made a commitment to bring 30,000 fast chargers to North America. The first of these should come online by summer 2024, according to their announcement.
“To accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, we’re in favor of anything that makes life easier for our customers,” Mercedes-Benz Group CEO Ola Källenius said in the statement. “Charging is an inseparable part of the EV-experience, and this network will be another step to make it as convenient as possible.”
According to Reuters, each fast-charging machine costs somewhere between $100,000 to $200,000, making this endeavor one that could cost billions of dollars. Currently, Tesla has the largest network of fast chargers with 45,000 supercharging locations globally.
Some of the companies involved with this new undertaking include companies such as GM and Mercedes that have already signed on to start using Tesla’s charging technology, called the North American Charging Standard (NACS), starting in 2025. The others still have product plans using the Combined Charging System (CCS). The new stations, according to the announcement, will offer charging connectors for both systems.
The announcement stated that the network “intends” to solely run on renewable energy, but a plan for this has not yet been disclosed. The chargers will be concentrated in urban areas and on highways.
“We think this is an important step forward,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told Reuters. President Joe Biden has previously stated goals to bring 500,000 EV chargers online by 2030.
Currently, the vast majority of EV chargers in the US are “level 2” chargers, which can take anywhere from four to 10 hours to completely charge a vehicle, according to the Washington Post. Owners of EVs frequently have those level-2 chargers installed at their homes. System malfunctions also currently run amok—a recent survey found that one in five EV owners have rolled up to a charger and were then unable to charge due to issues like system malfunctions.
“We believe that a charging network at scale is vital to protecting freedom of mobility for all, especially as we work to achieve our ambitious carbon neutrality plan,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said in the statement. “A strong charging network should be available for all.”