White House reveals plans to outfit more restaurants with electric-vehicle chargers

The efforts to build a recharging infrastructure involve Starbucks and a number of truck stop operators.
Restaurants figure into the plans for a charging infrastructure. / Photo: Shutterstock

Electric vehicle charging stations are coming to U.S. restaurants in a big way.

The White House today announced the next steps in its plan to foster the development of 500,000 chargers throughout the United States.

It set a near-term goal of installing 100,000 of the devices through a variety of public/private partnerships, including collaborations that involve Starbucks, the Pilot, Flying J and Travel Centers of America truck stop chains, and an unspecified number of individual restaurants Tesla hopes to include in a national network of 7,500 chargers.

The identities of Tesla’s possible restaurant partners were not revealed. The car manufacturer has expressed interest in possibly developing food and beverage concepts of its own to accommodate drivers while they wait for their vehicles to be charged.

The Biden administration stressed that developing an infrastructure to refuel electric vehicles, or EVs, is essential to achieving the president’s goal of having gas-powered cars account for less than half of all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030. It characterized the steps announced yesterday as an acceleration of the development plan.

The White House mentioned that private initiatives are key to the effort, with public financing adding considerably to the resources available. About $7.5 billion was earmarked in the administration’s landmark infrastructure re-development law for installing chargers.

Restaurants figured into a number of the private-sector initiatives the White House flagged today as figuring into the infrastructure-building effort. The administration highlighted these contributions:

Starbucks has agreed to develop 15 stations each sporting four high-speed battery rechargers by the summer, a collaboration with Volvo and ChargePoint. The re-up centers will be located along a 1,350-mile route from Seattle, Starbucks’ headquarters, to Denver.

The sister truck stop concepts Pilot and Flying J intend to have 200 car chargers in place this year, a part of the 2,000 devices that will eventually be developed at the operations’ 500 locations. The network is part of a partnership with General Motors and the tech supplier EVGo.

A rival truck stop operator, TravelCenters of America, has committed to installing 1,000 EV chargers at 200 locations within the next five years. The drive is a collaboration with Electrify America.

Tesla, the market leader in EV sales, has committed to developing 7,500 charger stalls in operation by the end of 2024. The White House specified that the host sites will include restaurants and hotels, in rural as well as urban and suburban locations. The carmaker indicated Wednesday that the equipment will be tweaked to accommodate all brands of EVs, and not just Teslas.

The White House did not say whether the various charging stations envisioned for the near-term will be offered as a free amenity or will charge for the electricity downloads.

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