Stellantis NV, owner of the Jeep and Ram brands, is setting up a business unit focused on electric-vehicle charging as it prepares to roll out new fully electric models in the US next year.
The unit, called Free2move Charge, will take a page from Tesla Inc.’s playbook by selling energy storage and charging equipment to plug-in owners and businesses. A smartphone app will offer route-planning and aggregate available charge points to simplify the search for a battery top up.
Free2move is one of many automaker initiatives created to speed up adoption of EVs in the US, where the charging network can be fragmented and unreliable.
“Public charging is not in great shape in US — it’s a top reason why people don’t consider the BEV (battery electric vehicle), and when they own a BEV, it’s the top reason they’re dissatisfied,” said Ricardo Stamatti, senior vice president of Free2move Charge, on a call with reporters.
Other EV makers, including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., have agreed to adopt their vehicles to Tesla’s charging technology to give customers access to the largest, fastest and most reliable network. GM also set up its own energy business last fall to compete with Tesla’s solar and Powerwall business.
Tesla, which uses the so-called North American Charging Standard, runs a global network of 45,000 Superchargers, which can add up to 200 miles (322 kilometers) of range in just 15 minutes. Stellantis is “still evaluating” the NACS standard and will have “more to share soon,” according to Stamatti.
President Biden has made electric cars a cornerstone of his climate and economic policies, devoting $5 billion to the buildout of a charging network along major roads and $2.5 billion to charging within communities.
“The industry has been fractured and hopefully we can all come together,” Stamatti said.
Free2move Charge will rely on corporate partnerships and direct investments from its venture arm to put the pieces of an EV charging ecosystem together, Stamatti said, without naming specific partners.
Stellantis is rolling out eight new all-electric models to North America next year. It will introduce its first all-electric Jeep SUV in the US, the Recon, an electric version of its three-row Wagoneer and an electric Ram pickup truck.
“It’s about control of the customer experience,” Stamatti said. “If we don’t play a more vertically integrated approach, it’s going to be very hard for us to build and deliver that value to our customers.”
© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.