Ford has struck a deal to give its drivers access to 12,000 fast-charging stations in Tesla’s network, in an effort to combat concern over how much it 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 freight network. Ford owners will get access next spring via an adapter that converts the electrical connectors in a Tesla supercharger for use in Ford’s Mustang Mach-E or F-150 Lightning trucks.
Ford CEO Jim Farley announced the deal alongside Elon Musk, the billionaire boss of Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX, in a surprise event on Twitter Spaces, the social networking site’s live podcast function.
“We’re really excited,” Farley said. “We are ramping up production, and we think this is a big step for our industry and all electric customers.”
Tesla was already planning to open its 45,000-charger network to all electric vehicle models by the end of 2024, at the White House’s urging and $7.5 billion in support. The electric vehicle manufacturer will open at least 7,500 chargers to drivers of any EV model, including 3,500 along U.S. highways.
The Biden administration wants 500,000 chargers available nationwide by 2030, up from about 130,000 available now, as it races to expand adoption of electric vehicles.
“We don’t want the Tesla Supercharger network to be a walled garden,” Musk said.
When the second generation of Ford cars becomes available in 2025, Farley said, they will be built with the same connector that Tesla already uses, eliminating the need for an adapter. Musk said the adapter would cost in the “hundreds of dollars range” — not “expensive.”
The long distances being covered in the US have led to “range anxiety” among drivers, who worry about being stranded too far from a charging station. Fear has led American automakers to use batteries capable of traveling farther on a single charge, even though that in turn increases the cost of the car. Electric vehicles already cost more than comparable electric vehicles.
Ford sees fast charging as a way to circumvent the problem.
“Our industry is obsessed with these huge batteries, and I think that’s probably not the right approach,” Farley said. “We got to make the battery as small as possible . . . but you have a really great fast charging experience on top of that, so we don’t have to drive around $20,000 extra battery.”
Musk and Farley joked, traded compliments, and ranted about the difficulties of building cars in the 30-minute live broadcast that drew more than 100,000 listeners. The head of a Michigan automaker ruefully told a story about driving in California with his kids, having to charge his car, and going through one Tesla after another.
“My kids kept looking at me, ‘There’s another supercharger, can you stop there?'” How about I-5, dad? He recalled. “I was like, ‘No, you have to go behind this other building.’”