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GM to Use Tesla’s Connector for Electric Vehicle Charging

Tesla

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General Motors announced on Thursday that it would use Tesla technology to charge its electric cars. This includes selling models with the plugs that Tesla invented.

The announcement, which came two weeks after Ford made a similar deal, is likely to make Tesla’s plugs the industry standard and put pressure on companies that are racing to build similar networks as sales of electric cars rise. The agreements mean that owners of Ford and G.M. cars will be able to use Tesla chargers, which are often the only ones available in many places and have a good reputation for being reliable.

“This really almost doubles access to chargers” for G.M. customers, said the company’s CEO, Mary T. Barra, during a live-streamed Twitter chat with Tesla CEO and Twitter owner Elon Musk.

Mr. Musk said that the deal “will be a huge step forward for the adoption of electric vehicles.”

But it might make people worry that Tesla, which already sells most electric cars, could beat out rivals in the charging business, which is growing quickly.

G.M. will have access to more chargers, and Tesla will make money by selling energy to users of cars made by other companies. Tesla has been charging owners of those other cars more than it charges owners of its own cars. The electric car company also needs to open up its network to get some of the $7.5 billion that the federal government is spending to speed up the building of charging points.

By using Tesla’s charging standard, Ford and G.M. also risk becoming dependent on their biggest rival. None of the companies in Michigan sell anywhere near as many electric cars as Tesla, and none of them run a network of charging stations.

There are also risks for Tesla in the deal. Because the company’s cars are so popular, the charging stations in some towns and along some highways are always full. Tesla users may be annoyed that they will have to wait in line with Ford and G.M. cars.

Ben Rose, president of Battle Road Research, who keeps an eye on the car industry, said, “I don’t think Tesla owners will be happy to see a Ford Mustang Mach-E getting charged while they wait in line.”

The fight between Tesla’s charging plugs and the ones used by Ford, G.M., and other automakers reminds me of the competition between Betamax and VHS video cassettes in the 1980s. VHS won the war in the end.

On one level, the competition between the standards is a complicated technical problem, with each side saying that its plug is better. But it could have long-term effects on the millions of people who are expecting to switch to electric cars in the next few years.

The plug on the cars that Tesla sells is called the North American Charging Standard plug. Most car companies, including Ford, G.M., and others, have sold cars with plugs that work with the Combined Charging System. They don’t go together.

Fast chargers from companies like EVgo or Electrify America usually have both plugs and can charge Teslas as well as cars from Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Volvo, which use the C.C.S. system. For most of its roughly 10-year history, Tesla’s network, which runs more than half of the country’s nearly 30,000 fast chargers, didn’t let cars from other companies use its chargers. However, the company recently started letting cars from other makers use some of its chargers.

Thursday, rivals didn’t say much about what happened. Brendan Jones, the CEO of Blink Charging, said in an email, “We support all moves to get more people to use EVs.” He also said, “We are keeping a close eye on the market and will make changes if we think it’s necessary.”

The deal was good news for investors. During Thursday’s extra trading, the prices of Tesla and G.M. shares went up by about 3 percent.

This year could be very important for G.M.’s plans to make electric cars. A Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that runs on batteries will be available from the company in a few weeks. It also plans to make electric versions of the Blazer and the Equinox, which are SUVs.

Ford is working at a plant in Dearborn, Michigan, to speed up the making of its electric F-150 Lightning.

During his talk with Ms. Barra, Mr. Musk said that Tesla would not use its control of the largest charging network in the country to hurt its rivals. But if Tesla’s standard becomes the standard, other operators will have to get the information they need to build and install charging networks from a rival.

Jonathan Levy, the chief commercial officer of EVgo, said that the company hoped the North American standard “will be published in a way that suppliers across the industry will be able to use it to give EV drivers more charging options.”

At the beginning of 2024, owners of Ford and G.M. electric cars will be able to buy adapters that let them connect to Tesla fast chargers. Both companies want to sell cars that use Tesla’s North American plug in 2025. To connect to a C.C.S. charger, the owner would need an adapter.

Ford and G.M. have admitted that they need Tesla’s network to sell electric cars, so they have joined forces with a foe.

“Reliable, wide-spread public charging is a key driver to increasing the number of EVs on the road,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in an email last month when the company announced its deal with Tesla. “The Tesla Supercharger network has shown that it can be trusted, and charging corridors have already been set up across the U.S. and Canada.”


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