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General Motors & EVgo to Triple the Size of the Largest Public EV Charging Network in the U.S.

General Motors & EVgo to Triple the Size of the Largest Public EV Charging Network in the U.S.

Author: Eric Walz   

Now that electric vehicles are becoming a popular alternative to gas-powered models, finding convenient places to recharge is becoming increasingly important. It's one of the drawbacks to owning an EV right now, especially for people who live in cities or apartment buildings where EV chargers are often shared or there are too few of them. But U.S. automaker General Motors is working to address this issue in a new partnership with EV charging provider EvGo

The automaker has teamed up with the EV charging infrastructure operator to triple the size of its U.S. charging network, building more than 2,700 new fast charging stations in cities throughout the U.S. The Los Angeles-based company currently owns and operates the nation's largest public fast charging network for electric vehicles. 

The company says that 100 million Americans now live within a 15 minute drive of an EVgo charging location. In 2019, EVgo became the first North American charging company to contract for 100% renewable energy to power its EV chargers.

GM and EVgo said the partnership aims to speed up the widespread adoption of battery-powered vehicles, which GM is planning to produce millions of in the future.

"Today EVgo and General Motors are making it even better to drive electric," said Cathy Zoi, EVgo CEO. "115 million Americans already live within a 15-minute drive of an EVgo fast charging station. With EV choices rapidly increasing, building more fast charging stations across the U.S. is necessary to extend the power of EVs for more drivers."

The new EVgo fast charging stations will be available to customers starting early 2021. The new stations will be located in highly visible areas and most will be able to charge at least four vehicles simultaneously. 

GM did not give a dollar amount of it's investment in the project.

The automaker and EVgo designed the EV charging station project to leverage private investment alongside government grant and utility programs to help offset some of the costs. The companies said that building out the necessary charging infrastructure ahead of market demands "will require continued public-private partnership."

Both companies said they will continue to work with key stakeholders to leverage new and existing public-private programs to help accelerate the rollout of additional EV charging infrastructure.

EVgo has been working closely with the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission to promote the adoption of EVs.

The new EVgo stations will feature new charging technology with 100-350-kilowatt charging capabilities, which many new and future EV models accept for recharging the vehicle's batteries in under 30 minutes. The latest electric models from General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Hyundai, Audi and others can accept higher charging rates—up to 350 kW. 

As of March, EVgo operates a network of 800 charging stations and is the nation's largest public EV charging station operator. Tesla's charging network is the biggest, but it's not open to non-Tesla drivers. However, EVgo was the first EV charging network to offer integrated Tesla connectors, which make sense being that Tesla models make up a significant portion of all EV on the road in the U.S. 

Another goal of the partnership is to add additional EV chargers for drivers who live in multi-unit dwellings, rental homes or cannot install chargers where they live. This includes EV charging not provided by their employer.

Many EV charging operators in the U.S. are installing new stations in large shopping centers, which is not always great for people that need to charge at the grocery store. 

As part of the partnership, customers will have better access to some of the fast charging stations in EVgo's nationwide network at more convenient locations that they frequent more often, including grocery stores, retail outlets, entertainment centers and other high-traffic destinations, the companies said.

For GM the timing is right to invest in EV charging infrastructure. The automaker plans to roll out 25 new electric models globally by 2023 as part of its multi-billion dollar investment in electrification.

Earlier this year, GM announced that the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant will be GM's first plant that is 100 percent devoted to electric vehicles and in fall 2021 and will soon begin building the new fully-electric GMC HUMMER EV there.

"We are moving quickly to bring new EVs to market that customers will love," said Barra, "We know how important the charging ecosystem is for drivers, one that includes access to convenient and reliable public fast charging. Our relationship with EVgo will bolster the public fast charging network available to EV customers ahead of increased market demand and reinforce our commitment to an all-electric, zero-emissions future."

In 2019, GM announced the creation of Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture with LG Chem to mass-produce advanced battery cells. The two companies are investing $2.3 billion in a battery factory in Ohio to build GM's advanced Ultium Batteries, which will power the new Cadillac Lyric, a fully-electric crossover that will debut on Aug 6.

GM is reinventing Cadillac as a luxury electric brand which will compete with luxury electric models from Tesla, BMW and Audi and Ford's Lincoln division Lincoln.

DC-fast charging supports higher charging current, charging an EV's battery to 80% takes about 20 minutes or less. The DC-fast chargers will be built at locations where people traditionally spend about 15 to 30 minutes, the companies said.

GM also announced its working is working with Qmerit to create a more accessible at-home charging solution, such as installing an EV charging plug in a homeowner's garage.

In January, EVgo entered into a partnership with rival ChargePoint, allowing customers of both companies to use each other's chargers. The charging network is accessible from a single app.

In February, GM announced an update to its "myChevrolet'' app to make it easier for Bolt EV owners to find and pay for charging. The updates let Bolt drivers check availability at any EVGo charging station and pay for a charging session right from the app. 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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