GM Follows Ford in Partnering with Tesla for EV Charging Network Access

GM Follows Ford in Partnering with Tesla for EV Charging Network Access

General Motors (GM) has announced that it will partner with Tesla to use the electric vehicle (EV) leader’s North American charging network and technologies. Following in the footsteps of crosstown rival Ford Motor, GM vehicles will be able to access 12,000 of Tesla’s fast chargers using an adapter and the Detroit automaker’s EV charging app, starting next year. The partnership between GM and Tesla will allow GM to save up to $400 million from a previously announced $750 million investment to build out EV charging.

GM and Ford to Use Tesla’s North American Charging Standard

GM, like Ford, will also begin installing a charging port used by Tesla, known as NACS, or the North American Charging Standard, instead of the current industry-standard CCS, in its EVs starting in 2025. This marks a stark reversal in strategy for GM, which was previously working with engineering organization SAE International to develop and refine an open connector standard for CCS. Analysts have hailed the Tesla-Ford deal as a “win-win,” and both GM and Tesla stocks were up about 3% during afterhours trading on Thursday.

Benefits for Both Companies

The deal is expected to more than double access to fast chargers for GM’s and Ford’s customers and increase use of Tesla’s network, putting pressure on other automakers to adopt Tesla’s technology. Tesla says it has roughly 45,000 Supercharger connectors worldwide at 4,947 Supercharger Stations. The company does not break out how many are in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Energy reports the country only has about 5,300 CCS fast chargers. Tesla previously discussed opening its private network to other EVs, and White House officials announced in February that Tesla committed to opening up 7,500 of its charging stations to non-Tesla EV drivers by the end of 2024.

Public charging of EVs is a major concern for potential buyers, and no automaker other than Tesla has successfully built out its own network. Instead, those automakers have announced partnerships with third-party companies that have often proven unreliable and frustrating to owners. Most U.S. drivers log vehicle miles from home to locations nearby. But EV buyers who want to take longer road trips, or who don’t have access to a garage with a charger, often worry about access to reliable, public charging.

GM CEO Mary Barra told CNBC’s Phil LeBeau on Thursday that the partnership with Tesla is a major win for both companies. It is expected to add pressure on other automakers—as well as the U.S. government, which is investing billions in building out an EV charging network—to adopt Tesla’s technology. During a live audio discussion on Twitter Spaces, Barra said, “I think we have a real opportunity here to really drive this to be the unified standard for North America, which I think will even enable more mass adoption, so I couldn’t be more excited.”

The deal was announced by Barra and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the Twitter Spaces discussion. It is notable that this was Barra’s first tweet since Oct. 27, since she stopped using the social media platform when Musk became owner. GM also discontinued advertising on the platform at that time. A GM spokesman said Thursday that its brands and some executives continue to use Twitter, but the company has not resumed any advertising on the social media platform. Barra told CNBC after the Twitter discussion that “it’s possible” the company could eventually reinstate advertising, as the company searches for a new chief marketer and is “reimagining” its marketing.

GM’s partnership with Tesla for access to its North American charging network and technologies marks a significant shift in strategy for the automaker. The deal is expected to benefit both companies, put pressure on other automakers to adopt Tesla’s technology, and address concerns about public charging of EVs.

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