Companies hoping to dip into the coffers of the Biden administration’s $7.5 billion EV charging initiative will have to meet a new set of requirements that even Tesla has agreed to.
The Biden administration laid out Wednesday the final standards for its plan to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers along highways, including a requirement that all EV chargers funded through the Inflation Reduction Act must be built in the United States. Specifically, the final assembly and all manufacturing processes for any iron or steel charger enclosures or housing must occur in the United States. And by July 2024, at least 55% of the cost of all components will need to be manufactured domestically, as well.
All chargers are also required to use a standardized payment system that is smartphone-friendly and all connectors must use the “combined charging system” (CCS), which dominates in the U.S.
Tesla doesn’t use CCS in North America; its vast Supercharger network in the U.S. uses a proprietary connector that only Tesla vehicles can use. That’s going to change, at least a little bit, under an agreement reached with the Biden administration.
Tesla will open up a portion of its Supercharger and destination charger network to non-Tesla EVs. The company will make at least 7,500 chargers available for all EVs by the end of 2024, according to the White House. At least 3,500 of those will be 250 kW chargers located along highway corridors. All EV drivers will be able to access these stations using the Tesla app or website.
Notably, Tesla has agreed to more than double its supercharger network.
Tesla’s concession, which will allow it to access that $7.5 billion, comes just days after CEO Elon Musk met with White House officials. There’s been talk of Tesla opening up its EV chargers in the U.S. for years. In July 2022, a memo from the White House indicated that Tesla would open its chargers to other EVs by the end of the year.
That date came and went. Doubt was cast on whether Tesla would make the move after it shared its EV charging connector design in an effort to encourage network operators and automakers to adopt the technology and help make it the new standard in North America. It seemed, at the time, that Tesla was angling to make its technology the standard.
Tesla has opened up its Supercharger network to other non-Tesla vehicles in parts of Europe. That transition has been easier since its chargers and vehicles use the CCS standard. The transition will likely be more complicated here, although there have been reports that the company has come up with a solution called the Magic Dock to give non-Tesla vehicles access to its proprietary chargers in the U.S.
Tesla isn’t the only company to make commitments in order to access incentives in the Biden EV charging plan.
GM previously announced a partnership with Pilot Company and EVgo to build a coast-to-coast network of 2,000 high-power 350 kW fast chargers at Pilot and Flying J travel centers along U.S. highways. The companies announced Wednesday that the first 200 chargers in this network are expected to be available for use by drivers in 2023. GM is also working with Canadian EV charging company Flo to install 40,000 Level 2 units in communities across the U.S. and Canada.
Other previously announced partnerships include TravelCenters of America and Electrify America, which plan to install 1,000 EV chargers at 200 locations along major highways over the next five years, and an agreement between Mercedes-Benz, ChargePoint and MN8 Energy to install 400 charging hubs with more than 2,500 publicly accessible DC fast charging ports across the U.S. and Canada.
ChargePoint, Volvo Car and Starbucks have also announced a partnership to add 60 DC fast chargers at up to 15 locations along the 1,350-mile pilot route between Seattle and Denver to be completed by summer 2023.