General Motors Co. said today it will partially fund the construction of 2,700 electric vehicle fast-charging stations, the latest sign that America’s largest automaker is thinking through the steps to not just make but also fuel a large fleet of EVs.
The partnership is with EVgo, one of the largest U.S. charging networks.
The chargers will be for public use, including ride-hailing drivers and apartment dwellers who lack a home charger, and are designed to mostly fill a battery in about 30 minutes. They will be located in about 40 metropolitan areas where the two companies see EV adoption coming soonest.
If built, the chargers will be a vast increase in America’s capacity to recharge EVs.
The new chargers would more than triple the size of EVgo’s footprint. The network also would be far larger than the plug points built so far by Electrify America, the $2 billion decadelong charging system bankrolled by Volkswagen AG as part of its penance for its diesel emissions cheating scandal.
"We’ve fast-forwarded our EV work and done extensive customer research," GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters on a phone call announcing the plan. "Extensive EV infrastructure is something our customers told us was important."
Barra would not say how much GM is investing. It is also unclear whether GM and EVgo are planning to pay for the network themselves or rely mostly on others’ dollars.
The companies "designed this new endeavor to leverage private investment alongside government grant and utility programs," they said in a joint statement.
The stations will start to open in early 2021 and will be built over the course of five years.
The news was the latest signal that GM is serious about its EV offerings.
The Michigan automaker is in the early stages of construction of a large battery manufacturing plant in Lordstown, Ohio, a joint partnership with South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd., that will make proprietary GM batteries dubbed Ultium.
The company plans to have 20 EV models available by 2023 and on Thursday is expected to unveil the Cadillac Lyriq, its first EV since the Chevrolet Bolt was introduced four years ago.
The partnership is a huge boost for EVgo, which has experienced mostly slow and steady growth and has suffered a huge downturn in business as travel stalled with the coronavirus pandemic.
The new chargers are also a sign that GM envisions electric vehicles charging faster than they do today, potentially much faster.
The stations will operate at power levels of 100 to 350 kilowatts. Most fast-charging EV stations today charge at 50 kW. The increased speed often requires much more investment by utilities in the power lines and other equipment to support it.