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Major automakers are teaming up to launch a new EV charging network in North America


Seven major automakers are banding together to launch a new electric vehicle charging network in North America. They want to build 30,000 chargers - that would be even bigger than Tesla's Supercharger network. NPR's Camila Domonoske reports.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: As EV sales are on the rise, there is a huge push to build more chargers in the U.S. But Sam Abuelsamid, with the consultancy Guidehouse Insights, says there's another problem.

SAM ABUELSAMID: It's not just a matter of not enough chargers. The chargers that were there often didn't work.

DOMONOSKE: Or they just kind of work, like this charger I was at last month.

Yeah, it's charging slowly. There was a warning that it was currently charging at a reduced rate while it does an update.

Charging can also be confusing, with hard to navigate apps. All of this can make drivers reluctant to buy EVs. So these seven companies - BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler - they've decided to create a joint venture to build chargers themselves under one network so they can make sure they're fast, reliable, easy to use - make sure they're good chargers, great chargers, maybe even super-chargers. Tesla's Supercharger network, which Tesla builds, owns and maintains, is extensive and reliable. It's a huge selling point for that company. And it's hard to overstate how it's shaken up the industry. Other companies have started joining the Tesla network and, now, with this alliance, trying to replicate it, too. Abuelsamid says the stakes are high for automakers.

ABUELSAMID: They are making an enormous investment in electrification. They have come to the realization that if they don't do this and they don't make it work, then that money is going to be wasted. That's going to be lost.

DOMONOSKE: The new network plans to draw on federal money to help fund chargers and will be open to all drivers. It doesn't have a name yet, but aims to open the first chargers next summer.

Camila Domonoske, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.