Ford has struck a deal to give its drivers access to 12,000 fast-charging stations in Tesla’s network, in an attempt to combat range anxiety that might discourage car shoppers from buying one of its electric vehicles.
The deal more than doubles the number of fast-charging stations in Ford’s North American charging network. Ford owners will receive access next spring via an adapter that converts the electric connectors in Tesla’s Superchargers for use in Ford’s Mustang Mach-E or F-150 Lightning pick-up trucks.
Ford chief executive Jim Farley announced the deal alongside Elon Musk, the billionaire boss of Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, on a surprise event on Twitter Spaces, the social media site’s audio livestream function.
“We’re really excited,” Farley said. “We’re ramping production, and we think this is a huge move for our industry and all electric customers.”
Tesla already was planning to partly open its 45,000-charger network to all electric car models by the end of 2024, at the White House’s urging and to gain access to $7.5bn in subsidies. The EV manufacturer will open up at least 7,500 chargers to drivers of any EV model, including 3,500 along US highways.
The Biden administration wants to make 500,000 chargers across the country by 2030, up from roughly 130,000 available now, as it races to expand EV adoption.
“We don’t want the Tesla Supercharger network to be like a walled garden,” Musk said.
When Ford’s second generation of EVs are available in 2025, they would be built with the same connector that Tesla already uses, eliminating the need for an adapter, Farley said. The adapter would cost in the “hundreds of dollars range”, Musk said — not “super expensive”.
The long distances travelled in the US have led to “range anxiety” among drivers, who worry being stranded far from a charging station. The fear has led US carmakers to push to source batteries capable of travelling further on a single charge, although that in turn drives up the cost of the vehicle. EVs already cost more than comparable ones with traditional engines.
Ford sees fast-chargers as a way to circumvent the problem.
“Our industry is obsessed with these huge batteries, and I think that is maybe not the right approach,” Farley said. “We should make the battery as small as possible . . . but have really great fast-charging experience combined with that, so we don’t have to be driving around $20,000 of extra battery.”
Musk and Farley bantered, traded compliments and exclaimed about the difficulties of building cars on the 30-minute livestream that attracted more than 100,000 listeners. The head of the Michigan carmaker ruefully told a story about driving in California with his children, needing to charge his car, and passing one Tesla station after another.
“My kids kept looking at me, ‘There’s another Supercharger, can you stop there? How about on the I-5, Dad?’”, he recalled. “I was like, ‘No, you have to go behind this other building.’”