Major automakers come together to build 30,000 urban and highway charging points

Photo (c) Joh Challicom - Getty Images

Timing is everything and this might be just what EV sellers need

Seven global automakers are hoping that they’ve hit upon one of those “if you build it, they will come” moments.

BMW Group, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz Group, Stellantis NV are creating a new charging network joint venture that could dramatically change the electric vehicle (EV) game by giving consumers expanded access to high-powered charging in North America.

By the time the last charging cable is plugged in, the consortium says that EV owners will have more than 30,000 high-powered urban and highway charge points so they can charge whenever and wherever they need.

This doesn’t look like it’s going to be some simple roadside concrete pad kind of thing, either. The companies said that their goal is an elevated customer experience – with digital integration, appealing locations, and various amenities while charging, in addition to the charging stations.

According to the sustainability strategies of all seven automakers, the joint venture also plans to power its charging network entirely with renewable energy.

Stations are expected to open in the United States in 2024, and in Canada at a later date. 

“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,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “The better experience people have, the faster EV adoption will grow.”

Mercedes-Benz Group CEO Ola Källenius thinks the environmental aspect is worth mentioning, too.

“The fight against climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. What we need now is speed – across political, social and corporate boundaries,” he said. “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.”

Not sure if you'd like an EV in your life? Here's a way to find out.

The way EV adoption is going, the automakers involved in this venture should be very happy with their decision. According to Evadoption, EV sales should increase to 4.7 million sales in 2030 from a little more than 500,000 in 2021.

But blindly buying an EV to see if you like it is a gamble for almost anyone who grew up driving a gas guzzler. However, AAA reports that more drivers are renting EVs when they go on vacation as a way to see how one might fit into their lives. 

AAA’s rental car partner Hertz has been investing heavily in electric vehicles, buying models from Tesla, Polestar, and GM.  With tens of thousands of EVs available for rent at more than 1,600 locations in 44 states, the company thinks it can take care of nearly two million tryouts this year.

“Trying before buying has been around for generations, this is a bit of a new twist on it” says Rylie Mansuetti, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. 

Before you jump on this idea, though, Mansuetti said there are some things you need to consider as a first-time EV driver. 

Understand the driving range. "The rental car agent should explain to you how far you can expect to go on a charge and how that changes depending on how many passengers you have and how much luggage and gear you are taking with you," Mansuetti told ConsumerAffairs. "It’s very important for drivers to pay close attention to the charge they have and to know how far they have to go to find a place to re-charge the vehicle."

He also said that with temperatures as hot as they are, EV renters need to realize that running the AC at full blast decreases an EVs range. 

Finding a charging spot.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 142,342 charging ports at nearly 55,000 charging stations across the country. That may sound like a lot, but some of that is geo-based. California has more than 40,000 outlets, but Oklahoma has only about 1,050 outlets.  The AAA's app can help you spot where you can find a charging station, as can this interactive map from the Department of Energy. 

Understand the technology on board the car. "EVs are very different from internal combustion engines," Mansuetti reminds drivers. "The gauges will look very different and the on-board electronics may seem very unfamiliar to anyone who is new to EVs. Acceleration and braking are also different with an electric engine. Knowing what the car can, and cannot do, is very important before hitting the road." 

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