White House: Tesla to make some EV chargers available to all

WASHINGTON (AP) - Electric car giant Tesla will, for the first time, make some of its charging stations available to all U.S. electric vehicles by the end of next year, under a new plan announced Wednesday by the White House.

The plan will make at least 7,500 chargers from Tesla's Supercharger and Destination Charger network available to non-Tesla EVs by the end of 2024, the White House said.

The plan to open the nation's largest and most reliable charging network to all drivers is a potential game-changer in promoting EV use, a key component of President Joe Biden's pledge to fight climate change. Biden has set a goal that 50% of new U.S. car sales be electric by 2030, and he has promised to install 500,000 chargers across America and build a network of fast-charging stations across 53,000 miles of freeways from coast to coast.

"As President Biden said, the great American road trip will be electrified,' ' said Mitch Landrieu, a White House aide who oversees implementation of the 2021 infrastructure law signed by Biden.

Soon, charging an EV "will be as easy as filling up at a gas station,'' Landrieu told reporters Tuesday ahead of the White House announcement.

The plan to open up Tesla's charging network was among a series of developments announced Wednesday by the White House, including new standards to make EV charging networks convenient and reliable for all Americans and made-in-America requirements for EV components.

"No matter what EV you drive, we want to make sure that you will be able to plug in, know the price you're going to be paying and charge up in a predictable, user-friendly experience," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

Standards imposed by the Transportation Department require that EV chargers funded through the infrastructure law be built in the United States, effective immediately. By July 2024, 55% of the cost of all components must come from the U.S.

Automakers warned before the rules were issued that imposing made-in-America requirements on EV components could harm EV growth.

Tesla has disbanded its media relations department, and the company did not respond to messages seeking comment.

By opening up its network, Tesla will be eligible to compete for federal grants to help create a nationwide charging network. The infrastructure law blocks federal subsidies for chargers that only serve one brand.

Tesla, General Motors, EVgo, Pilot, Hertz and other companies have agreed to add thousands of public charging ports in the next two years, using private funds and federal spending from the infrastructure law, "putting the nation's EV charging goals even closer within reach,'' the White House said.

Under the administration's plan, Tesla will set up charging sites at hotels, restaurants and other public spaces in urban and rural locations, the White House said. All EV drivers will be able to access these stations using the Tesla app or website, officials said. Tesla plans to triple its nationwide network of Superchargers over the next few years, the White House said.

The developments come after Landrieu and another top White House aide, John Podesta, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Washington last month. Biden did not attend the meeting, which centered on the EV industry and the broader goal of electrification of the U.S. economy, the White House said.

A week later, the Treasury Department said it is making more electric vehicles - including SUVs made by Tesla, Ford and General Motors - eligible for tax credits of up to $7,500 under new vehicle classification definitions. The revised standards follow lobbying by Tesla and other automakers to change vehicle definitions to allow higher-priced EVs to qualify for a maximum tax credit.

Tesla raised prices on its Model Y SUV within hours of the Treasury announcement.

Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for Guidehouse Insight, said the agreement to open up Tesla chargers to non-Tesla EVs "is potentially a very big deal.''

The plan "should be a big help to non-Tesla EV drivers if they can use the Tesla network and if the network remains as reliable as it is today,'' he said. A lack of high-quality public chargers on U.S. roads has slowed the growth of EV sales and is often cited by potential buyers as a leading obstacle to purchase of an EV.

While the White House said the Tesla network should be available through use of a company app or website, an adapter - or even a new charger design - will likely be required for non-Tesla EVs, Abuelsamid said.

Mike Ramsey, an analyst at Gartner, said the agreement with Tesla was important on its own, but also as a sign of relative peace between Musk and the Biden administration. Musk has repeatedly clashed with Biden and other Democrats, and as the new owner of Twitter, Musk has released a slew of company information showing internal debates among Twitter employees over a decision to block a story about Hunter Biden, the president's son.

"It's not good for the U.S. government to alienate the top seller of EVs,'' Ramsey said in an interview.

The Biden administration "needs Musk's help to grow EV use" in the United States, he added, and the new agreement "is a sign the government is working with the world's most important EV maker.''

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