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GM and Bechtel to Build Massive EV Charging Network

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【Summary】GM and Bechtel’s fast-charging EV network will focus on serving congested, highly populated locations in the US. The parties plan to create a separate company for the project, which requires funding from outside investors.

Michael Cheng    Jun 03, 2019 2:23 PM PT
GM and Bechtel to Build Massive EV Charging Network

In the past five years, numerous businesses and large organizations have pledged to build EV charging stations for the upcoming electrified era. The latest companies to join the growing list of establishments with EV infrastructure projects are GM and construction firm Bechtel.

The parties plan to create a separate company for the project, which requires funding from outside investors. If all goes according to plan, the duo (with its investors) could start deploying EV charging hubs by the end of 2019.

Installing EV Chargers Across the US

It is important to highlight that the project is still at the very early stages of development (Memorandum of Understanding phase), without a finalized business structure. GM and Bechtel's fast-charging EV network will focus on serving congested, highly populated locations in the US. By comparison, other groups are deploying EV chargers along major highways and rural areas.

GM believes the installations will be most effective around cities leading EV adoption. One of the main reasons EV charging stations do so well in urban locations is due to lack of access to home chargers. Most people living in apartments can't charge their battery-powered cars in a private garage. Instead, such individuals rely on charging their EV at public parking lots or commercial facilities that provide charging services.

"This collaboration and future build-out will help alleviate issues with customers' range anxiety by leveraging GM and Bechtel's scale, flexibility and proprietary data to provide chargers in locations convenient to EV customers," said GM, during an interview with Reuters.

Bechtel will provide building, infrastructure and permitting solutions in the collaboration. The construction company has experience completing megaprojects in the US and is responsible for helping build roughly 20 percent of the country's power-generating capabilities. For Bechtel, this collaboration could propel its footprint in the alternative energy sector.

Seeking New Investors

To start the colossal project, the duo is in the process of seeking external investors. Talks are currently ongoing, though the companies have not named any potential groups. With the solid reputation that both parties have in their respective industries, finding outside investors to fund the project should not be difficult. GM, which recently announced plans to invest $300 million into a new auto plant for EVs, is a leader in electrified transportation.

On the other hand, Bechtel is considered to be one of the biggest construction companies in the US. Founded in 1898, it ranked 11th in the list of largest privately owned American businesses in 2018. The establishment specializes in infrastructure, nuclear, mining and alternative energy.

"We think that, with the involvement of two companies like General Motors and Bechtel, that this is going to be attractive to outside investors," said Keith Hennessey, President of Bechtel Enterprises.

When the EV charging network comes to fruition, GM is expected to promote and use the stations to support its lineup of electrified cars (the stations will also be open to compatible EVs made by other car manufacturers). The automaker plans to launch up to 20 new EV models by 2023.

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