Tesla Noted As Part Of $700 Million US EV Charging Manufacturing Capacity Boost

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The Biden–Harris Administration highlighted this week the more than $700 million in EV charging investments from the private sector. A White House fact sheet related how these investments will:

  • increase US domestic capacity to manufacture more than 250,000 new EV chargers each year;
  • add at least 2,000 good-paying jobs; and,
  • make EV charging more affordable, accessible, and equitable.

The historic private investments follow $7.5 billion included in the Biden–Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that includes steps to build a national network of EV chargers. The Infrastructure Law includes language that supports systems where “a seamless charging experience” is available through convenient and uniform charging at home, work, and across the country.

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To spark important constituents to join in the movement to EVs, the administration sought buy-in from automakers and unions around an ambitious target for 50% of new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric. The cooperation of the US auto industry to step up its EV charging manufacturing capacity was deemed by the administration to be part of a “renaissance” for nationally-based automakers.

Moreover, by activating the federal government’s purchasing power to procure more zero-emission vehicles by 2027 and 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035, US drivers should experience less range anxiety due to more convenient, reliable, and affordable charging, the White House says, including when driving long distances.

Interestingly, instead of focusing on federal investment, the White House fact sheet describes how the administration has catalyzed private investment to boost domestic EV charging manufacturing capacity.

Where Does Tesla Fit into the New Private Investment Scenario?

Tesla has been making investments at its Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, to support the deployment of new fast charging stations to add to its fast-charging network.

  • More than 1,600 employees work at Giga New York producing the Tesla Solar Roof and Supercharger stations, which are capable of charging vehicles up to 250 kW.
  • Tesla is expanding production capacity of power electronics components that convert alternating current to direct current, charging cabinets, posts, and cables.
  • Later this year, Tesla will begin production of new Supercharger equipment that will enable non-Tesla EV drivers in North America to use Tesla Superchargers. (Note: This is huge! Non-proprietary charging will soon be offered by Tesla!)

Earlier this year our own Steve Hanley reported that Tesla opened more of its Superchargers in Europe for other EV drivers to use. The shift in EV charging culture will be very important as a whole new audience of consumers begins to see themselves driving EVs. Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles don’t require a melange of adapters to affix to the end of gasoline hoses — “star-shaped for Fords, octagonal for GM products, trapezoidal for Chryslers” — but EV drivers are forced to tote around adapters for their charging cables and a pocketful of charging company credentials, each with its own password to remember.

“It’s always been our ambition to open the Supercharger network to Non-Tesla EVs,” the company says, “and by doing so, encourage more drivers to go electric.” Tesla revealed in 2021 that it was launching its Non-Tesla Supercharger pilot, which would continue to expand to new sites and countries in support of the company’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

With this pilot, some stations have been accessible to non-Tesla EV drivers in selected countries via the Tesla app (version 4.2.3 or higher). Tesla drivers continue to use these stations as they always have. Part of the pilot included closely monitoring each site for congestion and listening to customers about their experiences.

Which Other Companies Committed to Increased EV Charging Manufacturing Capacity?

Electrify America, a leading network of fast chargers, announced a new investment of $450 million into its charging network by Siemens, a global technology and electrification company, as well as with the Volkswagen Group. These investments will support the rapid deployment of up to 10,000 ultra-fast chargers at 1,800 charging stations, more than the number of high-power chargers available in the US today.

[Note: We must not forget that Electrify America is the result of the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal. Volkswagen is prohibited by the terms of its agreement with federal authorities from branding the charging network as a VW enterprise.]

Siemens is on track to build 1,000,000 EV chargers over the next 4 years by investing more than $250 million in the US, joining the administration’s emphasis on foregrounding union manufacturing jobs that support critical power and EV charging infrastructure. Additionally, Siemens announced a $25 million minority stake investment in a US-based wireless charging company, has a new manufacturing facility coming online later this year, and is introducing a new Buy America-compliant AC charger this fall.

ABB E-mobility is increasing operations at 2 new facilities. In Sugarland, Texas, it is opening a training center where ABB will provide authorized service partners with hands-on training for servicing and maintaining EV chargers. In Southern California, ABB E-mobility is opening a product development and research facility where it will design, develop, and test EV chargers for the U.S. market.

The ChargePoint EV charging network is expanding its partnership with SMTC Corporation to expand DCFC production, establish a manufacturing line for Level 2 chargers at its Milpitas, CA, facility, and create approximately 250 new manufacturing jobs. The expanded facility will be able to produce 10,000 DCFC dispensers and 10,000 Level 2 chargers by 2026.

FLO, a North American EV charging network operator and smart charging solutions provider, announced a $3 million investment in its first US assembly facility located in Auburn Hills, MI, earlier this month. By 2028, the facility will produce upwards of 30,000 Buy America compliant charging stations and fast chargers annually, create upwards of 730 jobs, and bolster Michigan’s economy by $76 million.

Tritium is accelerating its production schedule to manufacture DC fast chargers in the 3rd quarter of 2022. It also plans to build its first Buy America chargers in early 2023. This facility will create more than 500 local jobs and will be capable of producing up to 30,000 fast charger units per year.

What Influence Will These Investments Have on Workforce Development & Equity?

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), as part of the Administration’s Talent Pipeline Challenge, pledged to train 10,000 of their members through the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) by this August.

Philanthropies, including the Hewlett Foundation, committed a total of $250,000 to support women and workers of color training for the EVITP-certification — with an emphasis on geographic diversity.

ChargePoint recently partnered with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to prepare its nearly 4,000-member companies, all of which are IBEW unionized, to install EV charging infrastructure quickly and professionally in advance of the release of NEVI funding to states.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack: https://carolynfortuna.substack.com/.

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