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GM’s electric vehicles will use Tesla’s charging network




General Motors said on Thursday it would adopt Tesla technology to charge its electric vehicles, including selling models that use the plugs developed by Tesla.

The announcement, which came two weeks after Ford struck a comparable deal, is likely to make Tesla’s plugs the industry standard and pressure companies trying to build similar networks as sales of electric vehicles increase. The agreements mean that owners of Ford and GM vehicles will be able to use Tesla chargers, which are often the only ones available in many locations and have a reputation for reliability.

“This really almost doubles the access to chargers” for GM customers, Mary T. Barra, the automaker’s chief executive, said during a streamed Twitter conversation with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and owner of Twitter.

Mr. Musk said the deal “is going to be a fundamentally good thing to drive EV adoption.”

But it could raise concerns that Tesla, which already dominates sales of electric cars, could overwhelm competitors in the fast-growing charging business.

While GM gets access to more chargers, Tesla will make money by selling energy to owners of models made by other automakers. Tesla has charged owners of the other cars higher prices than owners of their own cars. The electric car company must also open up its network to qualify for some of the $7.5 billion the federal government is using to speed up the construction of charging stations.

By adopting Tesla’s charging standard, Ford and GM also risk becoming dependent on their most formidable competitor. None of the Michigan-based automakers sell anywhere near as many electric cars as Tesla, and none of them operate a charging network.

The agreement also has risks for Tesla. The popularity of the cars has created congestion at the company’s charging stations in some cities and along some highways. Tesla owners may be annoyed that they now have to queue with cars made by Ford and GM

“I don’t think Tesla owners will be happy to see a Ford Mustang Mach-E being charged while they’re in line,” said Ben Rose, president of Battle Road Research, which follows the auto industry.

The battle between Tesla’s charging plugs and those currently used by Ford, GM and other car manufacturers recall the competition between Betamax and VHS video cassettes in the 1980s. VHS eventually won the battle.

At one level, the competition between the standards is a difficult technical problem, with each side arguing that the plug is the best choice. But it could have long-term implications for the millions of people expected to switch to electric vehicles in the coming years.

Tesla sells cars with a plug known as the North American Charging Standard. Ford, GM and most other automakers have sold cars with plugs that use the Combined Charging System plug. The two are not compatible.

Fast chargers offered by companies like EVGo or Electrify America usually have both plugs and can charge Teslas as well as cars from manufacturers that use CCS, including Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo. For most of its roughly 10-year history, Tesla’s network was closed to cars from other manufacturers, but the company recently began allowing other cars to use some of its chargers.

The reaction from the competitors was restrained on Thursday. “We support all moves to increase the use of electric vehicles,” Brendan Jones, CEO of Blink Charging, said in an email. He added, “We are monitoring the market closely and will adjust if we believe it is necessary.”

Investors welcomed the deal. The share prices of Tesla and GM were up around 3 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

This year looks set to be crucial for GM’s electric car ambitions. The company is weeks away from offering a battery-powered version of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. It also plans to introduce electric iterations of the Blazer and Equinox SUVs.

Ford is working to speed up production of its electric F-150 Lightning at a factory in Dearborn, Mich.

Mr Musk said during the call with Barra that Tesla would not use its control of the country’s largest charging network to disadvantage competitors. But if Tesla’s standard becomes dominant, other operators will depend on a competitor for information they need to manufacture and install charging networks.

Jonathan Levy, chief commercial officer of EVgo, said the company hoped the North American standard “will be published in a way that allows suppliers across the industry to have access to provide more charging options for EV drivers.”

From the beginning of 2024, owners of Ford and GM electric cars will be able to buy adapters to connect to Tesla fast chargers. By 2025, both companies plan to sell vehicles designed to use Tesla’s North American plug. Owners need an adapter to connect to CCS chargers.

By teaming up with an archrival, Ford and GM have admitted they need Tesla’s network to sell electric vehicles.

“Reliable, widespread public charging is a key driver for scaling the adoption of electric vehicles,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in an email when the company announced the deal with Tesla last month. “The Tesla Supercharger network has proven reliability and has already established charging corridors across the United States and Canada.”





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