Tesla to Open U.S. Charging Network, Reaping Federal Subsidies

The EV maker will allow rival brands to use at least 7,500 of its domestic chargers, including 3,500 Superchargers, by the end of next year

A parking lot with Tesla-brand charging stations
A Tesla charging station.

Smith Collection - Gado - Getty Images

Tesla (TSLA) will open some of its U.S. chargers to electric vehicles made by competitors for the first time, the White House announced Wednesday, advancing the buildout of a nationwide public charging network in exchange for subsidies under a $2.5 billion federal program.

The leading domestic maker of electric vehicles has committed to making at least 7,500 chargers in its network universally accessible by the end of 2024, the White House said. That's to include at least 3,500 fast-charging Superchargers located along highways and a minimum of 4,000 slower 'Destination Chargers' at locations like hotels and restaurants. Tesla's U.S. charging network consists of nearly 17,000 Superchargers and about 10,000 Destination Chargers.

Key Takeaways

  • Tesla will open at least 3,500 Superchargers and 4,000 slower Destination Chargers to electric vehicles made by rivals by the end of 2024.
  • The commitment qualifies the leading EV maker for a share of federal subsidies under a five-year, $2.5 billion federal program.
  • The program, authorized under the 2021 infrastructure law, aims to nearly quadruple the number of U.S. chargers to 500,000 by 2030.
  • Fast chargers can add 200 miles to an EV's range in 15 minutes, while slower ones can take an hour to extend the range by up to 44 miles.
  • The U.S. EV fleet is projected to grow to at least 26 million vehicles by 2030, from some 3 million today.

Federal funding for public charging stations under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act supports the Biden administration's goal of 500,000 public charging stations by 2030, up from about 130,000 today.

The initiative has spurred plans for public charging networks from other public companies, including a partnership between car rentals provider Hertz (HTZ) and energy supplier BP (BP), as well as a group that includes General Motors (GM). Tesla's participation is crucial: it operates the country's largest commercial charging network and is a leading EV brand. The company also plans to double its nationwide network of Superchargers made in Buffalo, New York, according to the White House.

A Supercharger can add 200 miles to an electric vehicle's range in 15 minutes, while a Destination Charger takes an hour to extend the range by up to 44 miles. Increasing the number of convenient and universally accessible chargers nationwide should alleviate "range anxiety" that discourages the adoption of electric vehicles, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Tesla's Superchargers in the U.S. use attachments incompatible with other electric vehicles. To qualify for the new subsidies, the company will need to equip some of its chargers with an alternative connector adopted by other manufacturers and promoted as a standard by the U.S. government.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long expressed a willingness to open the company's charging network to vehicles made by competitors. The company already provides the standard connector for its superchargers in Europe and Australia.

The company will allow drivers of cars other than Tesla to recharge at its compatible sites using the Tesla app or website, and will identify the locations for public mapping apps, according to the White House.

More than 3 million plug-in electric vehicles use U.S. roads, according to the White House, and one utilities industry group expects the total to grow to more than 26 million by 2030. S&P Global Mobility projects a U.S. EV fleet of 28.3 million by 2030 and estimates it would require 172,000 fast chargers along with more than 2 million slower-charging units.

The five-year, $2.5 billion Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program complements $5 billion in state funding for EV infrastructure development. The federal government plans to award $700 million in competitive grants under the program from funds for fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

Article Sources
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  2. Supercharge.info. "Charts."

  3. S&P Global Mobility. "EV Chargers: How Many Do We Need?"

  4. Tesla. "Charging Your Tesla."

  5. EnergySage. "A Complete Guide to Tesla Destination Chargers."

  6. Federal Highway Administration. "EV Charging Minimum Standards Rule as Submitted to Federal Register for Publication," Page 10.

  7. Federal Highway Administration. "EV Charging Minimum Standards Rule as Submitted to Federal Register for Publication," Page 19.

  8. Electretek. "Elon Musk Explains How Non-Tesla EV Owners Are Going to Be Able to Use the Supercharger Network."

  9. Electretek. "Tesla Expands Supercharger Pilot Program for Non-Tesla EV Owners to a Large Part of Europe."

  10. Edison Electric Institute. "EEI Projects 26.4 Million Electric Vehicles Will Be on U.S. Roads in 2030."

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  12. Federal Highway Administration. "Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program."

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