It was announced that the Society of Automotive Engineers have decreed the NACS charging plus to be the standard in North America.
It appears that Tesla and Elon Musk are winning the electric vehicle sweepstakes…
Why? It comes down to one thing: A plug standard for fast charging.
As of now, there are three standards for fast charging plug receptacles. CHAdeMO is an older system and a heavier one to use. It is also limited to a threshold of 62.5 kilowatts at 500 volts. Yet, Nissan and Mitsubishi use this on their Leaf and Outlander PHEV respectively. J1772 CCS is the more common plug-in standard found on almost every vehicle, except for Tesla. The CCS plug can transfer more kilowatts into higher capacity batteries.
Where Tesla comes in is the fact that it offers its own proprietary charging plug standard – NACS. It is considered to be “more common” across North America, due to the fact that there are many Teslas on the road, as well as their Supercharger recharging stations. The cycle is double of that of both CHAdeMO and CCS, yet it can only send up to 250 kilowatts of energy through to the battery.
Why is all of this important? It was announced that the Society of Automotive Engineers have decreed the NACS charging plus to be the standard in North America. This, on the heels of announcements by several automotive manufacturers that they will move to the NACS format on their EVs starting in 2025.
To meet the change in charging formats, ChargePoint and ElectrifyAmerica will start adding NACS plugs to their public DC fast charging stations by 2025. We have yet to hear from EVGo or GreenLots whether they will follow suit.
This truly puts a spanner in the works.
Let me explain why I say that. First, I was under the impression that when you start developing electric vehicles for the world, there should be one universal format for DC fast charging. As I found out, that answer is “no.”
In the case of Tesla, NACS Superchargers are not found in other global markets where they are thrusting their wares. In Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia, Teslas use a Type 2 CCS standard. Probably to meet a certain standard imposed by the European Union.
However, you now have three DC fast charging formats in North America. This causes a hell of a lot of confusion for consumers.
Granted, the advantage of the NACS charging format is its lightweight plug-in cord. It is a smaller and simpler design that American EV motorists will love. Tesla people do, apparently.
Yet, recharging is a different matter altogether. Tesla claims that you can recoup 200 miles of range in 15 minutes using their Supercharger stations. That may sound quicker than some CCS format EVs, which is tempting for manufacturers, such as Ford, General Motors, and Volvo to jump on the NACS bandwagon.
While Tesla is opening up access to their Supercharger network to some EV owners, there is still the question of expanding public charging infrastructure to places where they lack such facilities. Does this give public charging companies incentive to build new stations with NACS and CCS plugs where they are needed? Short answer: They better do so!
If a consumer wants to avoid Tesla’s Supercharger network, then the other charging networks need to step up and provide options in those “charging deserts.”
Here’s another series of questions that must be brought up: If a consumer with a home charger trade in their EV with a J1772 plug-in for one with NACS, how much of an impact will that make? Will the charger’s supplier be able to do a swap out of one for the other? Will there be a need for additional electric work when doing so? How about incentives when changing from one format to the other?
This is the can of worms that has to open up to understand how much of an impact changing from one EV plug format to another will do. These are necessary questions that should have been considered before committing to a format that has a success rate among a single brand of EVs only to be used in one part of the world.
One could see this as a way for legacy manufacturers to acquiesce to a start-up, because of their sales leadership. Perhaps a way to say “if you can’t beat them, join them.”
Let’s see if this all works out…
All photos by Randy Stern