Seven of the world's largest automakers said Wednesday that they're working together to build a new nationwide network of 30,000 electric vehicle charging stations, an effort to stoke already growing consumer demand for EVs.
BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes and Stellantis said the first batch of their "high-powered charging" stations will be available next summer. EV owners have long complained about a shortage of places to charge their vehicle. The automakers said they hope the stations will "make zero-emission driving even more attractive for millions of customers."
The charging system would be public and open to all electric vehicle owners and have connectors for both Tesla's North American Charging Standard plugs as well as the Combined Charging System plugs used by other automakers.
Motorists remain concerned about finding a charging station, while also having question about electric cars' range and how long it takes to reach full power, auto industry experts have told CBS MoneyWatch. Automakers will need to pay as much attention to adding chargers as they have to lowering prices, Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds,.
The car manufacturers wouldn't disclose financial details of the network or how long it will take to build all 30,000 stations. Automakers told the Associated Press that they will "work as equals to ensure the success of the joint venture."
There are currently just under 8,700 direct-current, fast-charging stations in the U.S. and Canada, with nearly 36,000 charging plugs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Tesla, by far the market leader ins EVs, accounts for 2,050 of the stations across the U.S. and Canada. The new network is expected to have 10 to 20 charging plugs per station.
The network is likely to boost electric vehicle sales in North America by helping ease drive concerns about long-distance travel, said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with S&P Global Mobility.
"It's stopping them from even exploring what EV life is like," she said. The announcement of the network "is giving them confidence that this is going to work out."
Bloomberg News Detroit Bureau Chief David Welch told CBS News that the automakers' goals of selling more EVs are directly tied to how many chargers are available for drivers.
"The car companies have realized that if they're going to get people to buy EVs, they really have to build up a network of chargers very aggressively, especially on the highways," he said. "The big holdup for everyone buying an EV is they're afraid they'll be out on a road trip and they'll run out of juice and be strained somewhere."
In their statement, the automakers said they would use renewable energy as much as possible to power the chargers, and they will be in convenient locations with canopies and amenities such as restrooms, food service and stores.
In the U.S., consumers bought 557,000 electric cars in the first half of the year, accounting for 7.2% of all new vehicle sales. Most industry analysts predict continued growth in EV sales for the next decade or more.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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