One of the cornerstones of the federal government’s $1 trillion infrastructure law is a commitment to building out the U.S. electric vehicle charging network to push the country toward greater EV adoption. The near-term goal is to add 500,000 new EV charging stations over the next several years, aiming to ensure that half of all new-vehicle sales are EVs by 2030.
In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) collectively directed nearly $5 billion under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program to add more charging stations to the nation’s roads and highways. The DOT later announced another $2.5 billion that will go toward a competitive grant program to make investments in state and community charging.
These programs have helped stir a rush of EV charging investments in the private sector. One of the biggest was unveiled in July when automaker General Motors and travel center operator Pilot Company announced plans to build a network of EV charging stations across the U.S. in a partnership that would boost the number of fast chargers by roughly 20%.
Reportedly about 2,000 fast-charging stations to 500 Pilot and Flying J locations will be added beginning in 2023.
Most should be completed by the end of 2025. The stations will be available to all EVs, but drivers of GM vehicles will get an additional advantage by making reservations at the chargers and earning discounts.
Neither company provided details on spending plans for the new network. However, GM last year said it would invest $750 million in charging infrastructure, and Pilot said the new charger network is part of $1 billion in overall upgrades to its locations.
“GM and Pilot Company designed this program to combine private investments alongside intended government grant and utility programs to help reduce range anxiety and significantly close the gap in long-distance EV charger demand,” said Pilot CEO Shameek Konar.
GM CEO Mary Barra said the new charger network is part of her company’s commitment to “an all-electric, zero-emissions future, and ensuring that the right charging infrastructure is in place is a key piece of the puzzle. With travel centers across North America, Pilot Company is an ideal collaborator to reach a broad audience of EV drivers.”
EVgo, which operates the nation’s largest public network of DC fast chargers, will install, operate and maintain the GM-Pilot charging network. Several sites will include pull-through stalls for electric trucks that haul trailers.
GM has already collaborated with EVgo to build a network of 3,250 charging stalls in major metro areas by 2025. GM also has announced plans to install up to 40,000 chargers in local dealer communities through its Dealer Community Charging Program, which focuses on underserved rural and urban areas. The automaker’s investments in charging infrastructure are part of a strategy to increase its EV sales.
As the WSJ noted, fast chargers can repower a battery in about 30 minutes, but they are in short supply in the United States. Rapidly expanding them will go a long way toward increasing EV adoption.
Electric-vehicle market leader Tesla has built a fast-charger network for its drivers, but the U.S. still has fewer than 5,000 locations with 10,000 individual fast chargers that anyone can use. Most current EVs can only travel a few hundred miles on a single charge, meaning locating fast chargers on highways is essential for long road trips.
The current administration wants states to prioritize investments along interstate highways by installing EV charging stations every 50 miles and locating them within a mile of the highways. The GM-Pilot collaboration aims to install charging stalls at 50-mile intervals across the U.S.