The move would qualify the company for a share of billions in public dollars to build a national network of highway chargers for electric-vehicle road trips.
Tesla Inc will open part of its proprietary Supercharger network to other kinds of vehicles for the first time, the White House said Wednesday. The move qualifies the company for a share of billions of federal dollars on offer to build a national network of electric-vehicle chargers.
Tesla plans to open at least 3,500 new and existing 250 kilowatt chargers to drivers of all kinds of EVs by the end of next year, the White House said. Fast chargers can repower cars in about 30 minutes, but those available to any kind of EV are in short supply across U.S. highways, where their presence is considered key to boosting EV adoption as auto makers convert fleets to electric.
Tesla already has a U.S. network of more than 17,700 fast chargers at over 1,650 locations, but in the U.S. they aren’t available to other types of vehicles. The network is popular among its drivers and widely regarded as the most reliable in an industry where finding operable equipment can be challenging. The White House said the company would triple its Supercharger network.
White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu said that Tesla CEO Elon Musk participated in a call last year with other executives and administration officials, part of a series of discussions about how to improve highway charging. “He was very open. He was very constructive. And at that time, he said his intent was to work with us to make his network interoperable,” Mr. Landrieu said.
Mr. Musk has said since 2021 that the company would open its network to others, though details have been sparse. Regulatory filings and other documents last year showed Tesla had applied for public funding in California and Texas, which, if granted, would require access by other EVs to chargers built with public money. It has launched a pilot program that allows non-Tesla drivers in parts of Europe to use its charging network.
The chargers were part of a broader White House announcement that included details on the phase-in of a domestic manufacturing requirement for chargers amid a larger push by the Biden administration to boost clean energy manufacturing. To qualify for government funding, charger final assembly and the manufacturing for iron or steel charger enclosures or housing would need to happen in the U.S. starting immediately. By July 2024, at least 55% of the cost of all components would need to be manufactured in the U.S.
Federal funding for chargers in 2021’s infrastructure law and tax credits approved in the Inflation Reduction Act last year has prompted a wave of private investment in the industry.
Mr. Musk has criticized the new law, and said that federal funding for electric-vehicle charging is unnecessary. Tesla wasn’t invited to a White House meeting with other EV makers in 2021, Mr. Musk tweeted at the time.
The federal government has already started to release to states $5 billion in funding for highway chargers. It will soon start to release the first $700 million of $2.5 billion planned for discretionary grants that would place chargers at places like schools, stores and apartments.
“This is not pie in the sky,” said Ali Zaidi, White House national climate adviser. “It is literally steel in the ground. We are seeing the Biden climate vision on wheels.”
Tesla has also agreed to further open its network of so-called Destination chargers around the country found at hotels and other locations where people might park for several hours, according to the White House. Other EV drivers already have been able to use an adapter to access Destination chargers.