Tesla is opening up its charging system, but not in the way that helps people who own electric vehicles that aren’t Teslas.
The automaker is renaming its Tesla connector the “North American Charging Standard” (NACS) and is pitting it against the current CCS combo charging standard. CCS is the agreed-upon standard that every manufacturer selling in North America has adopted for DC fast charging.
In a new blog, Tesla says that its connector is “half the size, and twice as powerful” as CCS and points out that it’s “the most common charging standard” by a degree of 2 to 1. Tesla currently sells more EVs than any other manufacturer in the US, but other automakers are starting to catch up. According to the Department of Energy, there are about 17,000 Tesla Supercharger connectors in the US and Canada, compared to about 11,000 CCS combo ports.
Earlier this year, a White House memo revealed that Tesla Superchargers in the US will start serving non-Tesla EVs by late 2022, but since then, there have been no updates from the company. The Biden administration passed an infrastructure law that aims to help boost EV adoption and grow charging infrastructure, but funding would only go to companies that build charging stations that can accommodate more than one company’s EVs. As it stands, this would disqualify Tesla from receiving these funds unless it can convince at least one other automaker to adopt its plug.
Tesla is essentially challenging EV charging operators and other automakers to use its Supercharger — sorry, North American Charging Standard — plug instead. It’s a power move that can only further fracture EV charging adoption that already suffers from fragmentation with three DC Level 3 plug options. Europe, in comparison, settled with a single CCS2 standard for all manufacturers, including Tesla. The company started opening up its Supercharger stations in some countries on the continent without requiring the need of any adapters.
Some EV charger companies have already been courting Tesla drivers, including EVgo, which started by retrofitting Tesla plugs in place of the dwindling CHAdeMO standard that was only largely used by Nissan Leafs. Tesla had sold a CHAdeMO adapter for a while and now is selling a CCS adapter as well that gives owners access to other DC fast charging networks.
Tesla hasn’t confirmed that it will add stations that can accommodate other manufacturers with CSS ports, but it’s still a possibility. The company even started selling home chargers with a J1772 plug that works on all other EVs, so there’s certainly some exploration in meeting somewhere in the middle. Although, retrofitting about 1,700 Supercharger stations in North America to support CCS combo would be an expensive affair. Plus, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk seems a bit distracted these days to help steer the company in the right direction.