The automaker said it plans to set up a “community-based” network of 40,000 Level 2 chargers across the U.S. and Canada. The move is part of a recently announced $750 million plan to build up the EV charging infrastructure. GM also said Tuesday it will begin selling its own “Ultium” brand chargers for use at home or office.
“These two initiatives are part of our plan to put everyone in an EV, making access to charging even more seamless than before,” said GM President Mark Reuss.
“We want to give customers the right tools and access to charging where and when they need it, while working with our dealer network to accelerate the expansion of accessible charging throughout the U.S. and Canada, including in underserved, rural and urban areas.”
Analysts see a number of challenges manufacturers need to overcome in order to build demand for battery-electric cars, but many of those are now being addressed. The number of BEV options will increase from the 13 models available at the end of the 2021 model year to about 50 by late 2022, TheDetroitBureau.com recently reported.
Vehicle range is increasing, with the new Lucid Air offering more than 500 miles per charge in its “Range” edition. And battery prices are beginning to dip, with many observers expecting BEVs and conventional gas models to reach price parity by mid-decade.
The charger gap
But the lack of a charging infrastructure is now seen as one of the biggest remaining hurdles. President Joe Biden has been pushing Congress to approve funding for up to 500,000 charger ports nationwide, but his infrastructure program is struggling on Capitol Hill.
That likely means the business community will have to step up. Several charger companies, including ChargePoint and EVgo, have gone public to raise funding. And GM is one of a number of automakers who plan to invest in a charging infrastructure.
Tuesday’s announcement is part of that process.
Dealers will take the lead
The automaker said it will work with its large dealer network, giving each retailer “up to 10 Ultium Level 2 destination charging stations” that can then be placed around their community.
The program focuses on Level 2 chargers which provide 240-volt AC current. Depending upon the type of vehicle and the power available, that can require a motorist to remain hooked up for hours. GM plans to take other steps to promote the spread of high-speed 400-volt DC charging systems.
As of mid-2021, there were 43,514 charging stations in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy, with 105,671 plugs. Less than 20% of those were high-speed systems.
Along with its plan to install the Level 2 chargers around the U.S. and Canada, GM said it will begin selling Ultium home and office chargers, both through its dealers and online. There will be three types available:
- An 11.5 kilowatt/48-amp smart charger
- An 11.5 kW/48-amp premium smart charger
- A 19.2 kW/80-amp premium smart charger
The automaker did not yet announce pricing for the home chargers.
Big plans for BEVs
GM has rapidly accelerated its electrification plans and now expects to have about 30 BEVs in production by mid-decade. It expects to complete eliminate the use of internal combustion engines by 2035.
Its first two long-range models, the Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV, have run into problems because of fires forcing the carmaker to replace their battery packs. The GM program begins to accelerate with the end-of-year launch of the GMC Hummer EV pickup. The Hummer and other models to come will use an entirely new Ultium battery chemistry.