Dealers to help weak EV charging infrastructure

The nation’s charging infrastructure is catching up as electric cars start to gain market share all over the US.

Some people, like some Californians and Tesla enthusiasts, already have an advantage in this race, but many EV owners in America still have to contend with charging deserts and unreliable stations, which are two major barriers to decarbonizing transportation and being good neighbors.

The Biden administration wants to see 10 times as many charging stations functioning by 2030 as there are currently, according to the Department of Energy, about 50,000 in the United States. Several manufacturers are turning to dealerships to help fund thousands of public charging stations across the U.S. in rural and urban regions, though it’s unclear how the nation will reach that milestone. Their policy is in sharp contrast to the no-dealer approach taken by companies like Tesla, Rivian, and others.

In towns across the United States and Canada, GM announced last year that it would install as many as 40,000 level 2 chargers. A further update was provided by the company on Wednesday: those chargers, each with a 19.2 kilowatt maximum output, will be supplied by Canadian EV charging provider Flo. GM told TechCrunch that while dealerships are responsible for things like cable management, maintenance, and warranties, they would just be responsible for the cost of the chargers and shipment.

Importantly, dealerships won’t carry these chargers. Dealers will choose neighboring locations to host the co-branded stations, according to GM. The corporation cited entertainment events, schools, and other well-known locations as examples. Additionally, hosts will have to agree to pay for expenses including installation, permits, and energy fees. GM further stated that hosts could want to charge drivers or provide it for free.

The initiative has only placed stations at multiple places in Marshfield, Wisconsin, and Owosso, Michigan, so far. According to GM, the following states will follow: Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, and Washington. Dealers in these states will “install their first chargers in the weeks and months ahead.” Less than a thousand dealerships have signed up for the initiative so far, representing approximately a quarter of all GM dealers in North America, according to GM. Dealers in the program are given 10 each.

In-store public chargers are being installed at GM dealerships by a different business called Blink. That aspect of the equation more closely resembles what American automakers are doing elsewhere.

Not just GM but other established automakers are using dealerships. Ford said earlier this week that 1,920 dealers had agreed to participate in its EV sales initiative. The majority of these locations will have two chargers installed at each of them. According to a Stellantis representative, if dealers “want to continue to offer our electric vehicles into the future,” they will also need to install chargers on-site and purchase new equipment for EV repairs.

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