General Motors said it will install up to 40,000 electric vehicle chargers across North America as part of an ambitious plan to pour nearly $750 million into charging infrastructure that will help attract drivers to its electrified models.
Under the program, GM will supply the charging equipment to auto dealers across the U.S. and Canada. Those dealers won’t deploy the chargers on their property -- instead, they’ll work to identify suitable sites and get the infrastructure installed. GM will give each dealer up to 10 Ultium charging stations to deploy in their community. The automaker said it will also help dealers apply for incentives and other funding programs to install the chargers.
GM chose to partner with dealers under the plan — dubbed the Dealer Community Charging Program — because they’re often already engaged in their local area, Alex Keros, GM’s lead architect of EV infrastructure, told TechCrunch in a recent interview. “Dealers are already pretty active in their communities, have great relationships, they know them well and so why not leverage them?”
The new infrastructure will be called Ultium Chargers, so they'll have clear GM branding, but unlike Tesla’s Supercharging network, GM's 40,000 new Level 2 chargers will not be a proprietary network. Keros indicated that the automaker has no interest in taking an exclusive network path to boosting sales of electric vehicles.
“Our view of the world is, ‘everybody in,’” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re growing the ocean.”
The automaker will also be rolling out three Ultium Level 2 smart chargers, for both home and commercial uses, that were developed and manufactured in partnership with EV charging company CTEK. Two of the units will be 11.5-kilowatt capacity, and the third will be a 19.2 kW unit best suited to deliver power to the forthcoming electric GMC Hummer or Cadillac Lyriq. These chargers will be used in the Dealer Community Charging Program, but they’ll also be suitable for residential use cases, Keros said.
The chargers will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities; the more powerful unit will be outfitted with a customizable screen. The stations will also be able to load balance, meaning each unit can safely coordinate the flow of energy to the vehicle. For instance, when installed at a residence that might mean balancing the flow of electricity between the vehicle and other electrical home appliances.
Through GM’s Ultium Charge 360 app, customers will be able to get data on the charger status, set a charging schedule and view other statistics on charging habits and history. The app already lets drivers search for chargers across seven networks in North America, including Greenlots, Blink, FLO, ChargePoint, EVgo, EV Connect, Greenlots and SemaConnect. The automaker declined to provide further details on how the charging experience might differ between GM and non-GM cars, only that every EV would be compatible.
GM plans to make the charging units available next year, alongside the launch of the community charging program. Customers will be able to roll in the cost of a charger to their GM Financial lease or contract.
The automaker is moving swiftly as it zeroes in on its target of launching 30 EVs globally by the end of 2025, with plans to invest $35 billion on EVs and automated technology through that same year.
“When you look at the strong portfolio, the fact that we’re going to have affordable EVs, really affordable EVs for people and we’re also working on the ecosystem they need because for a lot of people it’s going to be their only vehicle — they need to have a reliable charging infrastructure,” chair and CEO Mary Barra said during a media briefing last week.