Tesla will open up part of the charging network to other electric vehicles as Biden officials announce latest steps in expanding charging stations

Tesla will open up part of the charging network to other electric vehicles as Biden officials announce latest steps in expanding charging stations

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  • February 15, 2023
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Biden administration officials on Wednesday announced a significant step to move the U.S. toward a broader and more connected network of electric vehicle charging stations.

Part of the move includes a major concession from EV market leader Tesla, which owns and operates an extensive network of proprietary “superchargers” for its cars. But now White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu says the Elon Musk-led company has agreed to open part of its charging network to non-Tesla vehicles.

“These latest and new commitments will make more public chargers available for all electric vehicles,” Landrieu said during a background briefing with reporters on Tuesday. “With announcements like today’s and the overall growth we’re seeing, it’s clear this administration is making incredible strides in building our electric future.”

About $7.5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be spent on building a nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations. An important requirement for state-subsidised electric vehicle chargers is that they must offer charging options for every electric vehicle. Had Tesla chosen to limit use of its Supercharger network to Tesla’s using its proprietary plug, it would not have been eligible to receive federal funding to expand its network with state support. A White House official confirmed that Tesla will be able to receive federal funding for about 7,500 chargers, which it plans to open to non-Tesla vehicles by the end of 2024. These chargers need to be equipped with adapter ports in order for any EV to be able to use the chargers.

Landrieu added that the White House has been in contact with Tesla and other companies to coordinate plans to expand the EV charging network. The announcement also included partnerships between GM and electric vehicle charging station company FLO to build up to 40,000 Level 2 chargers, and a deal between Hertz and BP to build charging stations at Hertz locations in major cities. Other automakers like Ford, Mercedes and Volvo are also supporting the effort either through partnerships or direct investments. Overall, the White House says around 100,000 public chargers will be added across the country as early as 2024 as a result of the announced plans.

One goal is to ensure that EV drivers can drive across the country and easily find a reliable charger. This goal remains a challenge for many EV drivers. Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg says ease of use is one of the top priorities for building the charging network.

“No matter what electric vehicle you drive, we want to make sure you can connect it [knowing] the price you’re going to pay and charging with a predictable and user-friendly experience,” said Buttigieg, who was also in the background talk with Landrieu. “Just like filling up today, you know that the experience will be largely consistent no matter where you are and no matter the provider,” he added.

Officials on the call also outlined a “Build America, Buy America” ​​requirement for federally funded EV chargers, requiring manufacturers to ensure final assembly of chargers occurs in the United States. By July next year, builders must also ensure that 55% of component costs are also sourced domestically.

The new development comes as the White House works to increase its clean energy priorities, which would require billions in funding and incentives for states, businesses and consumers to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $7.5 billion in funding for EV charging, $10 billion for clean transportation, and $7 billion for EV battery components. Buyers of new and used electric vehicles could also receive an important tax credit funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion to fund projects to reduce the impact of climate change. The Biden administration has set goals for electric vehicles to account for half of all vehicle sales in the United States by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Electric vehicles: who’s in front, who’s behind 02:37

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Willie James Inman

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