Tesla to Open Part of Charging Network to Other EVs as Biden Officials Announce Latest Steps in Expanding Charging Stations

Biden administration officials announced a significant step on Wednesday in moving the US toward a broader, more cohesive network of electric vehicle charging stations.

Part of the move includes a large concession from the 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 up part of its charging network to non-Tesla vehicles.

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

About $7.5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act will be spent building a network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers across the country. A key requirement for federally funded EV chargers is that they must provide charging access for any electric vehicle. If Tesla had chosen to limit the use of its supercharger network to that of Tesla with its proprietary connector, it would not have been entitled to receive federal funds to expand its network with government support. A White House official confirmed that Tesla will be able to obtain federal funding for about 7,500 chargers it hopes to open to non-Tesla vehicles by the end of 2024. Those chargers will have to be equipped with adapter connections to allow any EV to use the chargers.

Landrieu added that the White House is in contact with Tesla and other companies in coordinating plans to build the electric vehicle 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, along with an agreement between Hertz and BP to build charging stations at Hertz locations in the major cities. Other automakers such as Ford, Mercedes and Volvo are also supporting the effort through partnerships or direct investment. In all, the White House says that about 100,000 public chargers will begin to be added across the country starting in 2024 as a result of the announced plans.

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

“No matter which EV you drive, we want to make sure you’re able to plug in (knowing) the price you’re going to pay and charge with a predictable and user-friendly experience,” said Buttigieg, who was also on the background call with Landrieu. “Just like when you’re fueling up today, you know the experience will be largely consistent regardless of your location and vendor,” he added.

Conference call officials also outlined a “build America, buy America” ​​requirement for federally funded EV chargers that oblige manufacturers to ensure final assembly of chargers takes place in the US. By July next year, builders will also need to 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 spending billions in funding and incentives for states, businesses and consumers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act includes $7.5 billion in funding for electric vehicle charging, $10 billion for clean transportation, and $7 billion for battery components for electric vehicles. Buyers of new and used EVs can also receive a key tax credit funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion to fund projects with the aim of reducing the effects of climate change. The Biden administration has set a goal for electric vehicles to account for half of all U.S. vehicle sales by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

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