Whether you’re already an enthusiast or simply keeping an open mind about electric vehicles and their potential in North America, one pressing issue in 2023 is access to high-powered charging stations. While EV owners who are also homeowners can (and do) frequently charge their vehicles at home, public charger access is important.

Some people can’t easily charge at home—for example, those who live in older apartment buildings or multi-family dwellings. Other people, especially during the summer, may want to plan road trips—something that’s distinctly less appealing if you’re worried about consistent, reliable access to fast charging. Additionally, as more people start driving or riding electric vehicles, things like charging speed, accessibility, and reliability will only become more important characteristics. 

On July 26, 2023, seven global automakers publicly announced a partnership to build a high-powered charging network, first in the US and later in Canada. The seven automakers (two of which are also motorcycle makers) involved are: 

  • BMW Group 
  • General Motors 
  • Honda 
  • Hyundai 
  • Kia 
  • Mercedes Benz Group 
  • Stellantis NV 

Together, these automakers plan to create an extensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure that supports EV customers with vehicles that use either the Combined Charging System (CCS) or the North American Charging Standard (NACS). Current plans are to begin opening the first stations under this joint venture in summer 2024 in the US. Canadian stations are planned in the future, at a date yet to be announced. 

How many stations are we talking about? The plan so far calls for “at least 30,000 high-powered charge points,” although a timeframe for installation and activation of those charge points has not yet been made clear. Where will these charge points be located? The wording here is somewhat vague, and simply mentions “urban and highway locations.”  

One point that is clear in the joint statement is that each chosen site will have multiple chargers—not just one or two. In theory, at least, that should go some way toward ensuring that riders and drivers won’t show up to a charging station and find that either a) all chargers are broken, or b) all chargers are occupied by other vehicles.  

It’s worth noting that the joint venture between these partner OEMs isn’t official yet. Although the companies involved expect it to become official within the year, it still requires a few small things, including regulatory approval. Assuming all the technicalities go off without a hitch, though, those are the broad strokes of what the venture has planned.  

How Will This Affect Electric Motorcycles?

As of July 27, 2023, only two electric motorbike manufacturers that currently sell their vehicles in North America have fast charging capability. The LiveWire One and the Energica Motorcycle Company lineup both offer available CCS charging. Other manufacturers that sell motorbikes in the US (such as Zero and BMW) max out at Level 2 charging, and they do not offer Level 3 fast charging on their two-wheeled vehicles at this time. 

A third electric motorbike manufacturer, Verge, has plans to offer its motorcycles in the US market in the coming months. It also recently announced plans to adopt the NACS charging standard. At the time of writing, however, its bikes are not yet available in the US. If all goes according to Verge’s plans, though, perhaps they will be by the time this charging network gets off the ground. 

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