GM and Tesla are collaborating on the EV charging community after Ford

DETROIT – General Motors will follow the crosstown rival Ford engine in a partnership with Tesla to leverage the EV leader’s North American charging network and technologies.

Under the agreement, GM vehicles will have access to 12,000 of them Teslas Rapid chargers with an adapter and the Detroit automaker’s EV charging app coming next year.

GM, like Ford, will also begin installing a charging connector used by Tesla, known as NACS, or North American Charging Standard, in its electric vehicles in place of the current industry standard, CCS, beginning in 2025.

GM CEO Mary Barra told CNBC’s Phil LeBeau Thursday that the deal is expected to save the automaker up to $400 million of its previously announced $750 million investment in expanding electric vehicle charging capabilities.

The partnerships with what are now two leading Detroit automakers are a major win for Tesla and its charging technology. This is expected to increase pressure on other automakers — as well as on the US government, which is investing billions in building an EV charging network — to adopt Tesla’s technology.

Wall Street analysts hailed the Tesla-Ford deal as a “win-win” when it was announced last month. Both GM and Tesla shares are up about 3% during Thursday’s after-hours trading.

The deal was announced by Barra and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a live audio discussion on Twitter Spaces. This comes at a time when GM is ramping up production of its all-electric vehicles in a bid to achieve Tesla-level sales volumes in that segment.

U.S. President Joe Biden listens to General Motors CEO Mary Barra during a visit to the Detroit Auto Show to highlight America’s manufacturing of electric vehicles September 14, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

It also marks a stark shift in strategy for GM. When Ford announced its own partnership with Tesla weeks ago, GM worked with engineering organization SAE International to develop and refine an open connector standard for CCS.

“I think we have a real opportunity here to really make this the single, unified standard for North America that I think will allow for even more mass adoption, so I couldn’t be more excited,” Barra said during the less than ten-minute discussion .

Adding to the rivals’ curiosity about a partnership, the Twitter Spaces were Barra’s first tweet since Oct. 27, as she stopped using the social media platform when Musk took ownership. At that point, GM also stopped advertising on the platform.

A GM spokesman said Thursday that its brands and some executives continue to use Twitter, but the company has not resumed advertising on the social media platform. Barra told CNBC after the Twitter discussion that “it’s possible” the company could eventually reintroduce advertising as the company is looking for a new chief marketer and is “reconsidering” its marketing.

The GM-Tesla deal, like Ford’s, should be beneficial to both companies. Access to fast chargers for GM and Ford customers is expected to more than double and use of the Tesla network to increase.

Tesla states that it has around 45,000 Supercharger connections at 4,947 Supercharger stations worldwide. The company does not disclose how many there are in the US. The US Department of Energy reports that the country only has about 5,300 CCS fast chargers.

A view of Tesla Superchargers on February 15, 2023 in San Rafael, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Tesla has already talked about opening up its private network to other electric vehicles. White House officials announced in February that Tesla had committed to opening 7,500 of its charging stations to non-Tesla EV drivers by the end of 2024.

Musk said Thursday that Tesla owners would not get priority at the company’s chargers, calling the access “a level playing field” for electric vehicle owners.

“The most important thing is that we’ve seen the electric vehicle revolution,” Musk said.

Public EV charging is a big concern for potential buyers, and no automaker other than Tesla has successfully built its own network. Instead, these automakers have announced partnerships with third-party companies that have often proven unreliable and frustrating for owners.

Most US drivers log vehicle miles from home to nearby locations. But EV buyers who want to make longer car journeys or don’t have access to a garage with a charger often worry about access to reliable, public charging facilities.

– CNBC’s Lora Kolodny and John Rosevear contributed to this report.

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