General Motors is hoping to bolster consumer demand for electric vehicles by tripling the size of its fast charging network.
The automaker is adding more than 2,700 fast chargers over the next five years in conjunction with its EVgo partnership. Chargers will be installed in a variety of areas across cities and suburbs, including grocery stores, retailers and other “high-traffic” locations, with the aim of letting people charge their cars while running errands, the company said in a press release. It takes under a half hour for a car to fully charge.
The strategy stands in contrast to Tesla’s own fast charging network, known as Supercharger, that originally focused on providing quick-charge capability along Interstate routes to facilitate long-distance drives. GM CEO Mary Barra said on a call with reporters that the focus on metropolitan areas was a result of customer feedback, and a desire to tap into an underserved potential customer base who live in apartments without access to personal garage charging systems.
EVgo already has more than 800 charging locations, with some of the new chargers launching by early 2021, the two companies announced Friday.
Barra said in a release the expansion would “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.”
GM has been expanding its fleet of electric vehicles on sale in recent years. A new version of the Bolt EV will be launched later this year, the company recently said, and the GMC Hummer electric truck will be released next year. A crossover SUV version, called the Bolt EUV, will debut in the summer of 2021.
GM announced in March it has created a new electric vehicle battery that offers up to 400 miles of range and will be cheaper to produce than today’s batteries. That’s slightly less driving range than any car Tesla offers. Tesla claims a range of 402 miles for the latest version of its Model S Long Range Plus sedan.
Electric cars don’t need fast chargers all the time, of course. The vast majority of the time, electric cars are charged at home or at work, using chargers that can take six to eight hours. Fast chargers are different. They are designed to quickly fill a car’s battery — not all the way, which would stress the battery, but usually up to about 80% — so people can get back on their way.
In addition to GM and Tesla, Volkswagen is working on a charging network in the US. It’s being funded thanks to a settlement VW reached with US regulators over the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal. Electrify America expects to have about 500 fast chargers in the US by the end of the year.
–CNN Business’ Peter Valdes-Dapena contributed to this report.