The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International recently announced that they had set the standards for Tesla’s Supercharger Network so that other automakers can use it for their electric vehicles (EVs).
It’s an announcement that Autoweek reported as a “milestone” for EV charging. Tesla uses the North American Charging Standard (NACS) style of charge port. In contrast, the rest of North America’s automotive industry currently uses the Combined Charging System (CCS) charge port. Japanese car manufacturers developed their charging standard in 2010, the CHAdeMO, which EVs like the Nissan Leaf use.
It’s Big Money For Tesla
The SAE International’s decision makes Tesla eligible for as much as $7.5 billion in federal funding due to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, which the government established to help companies create EV charging infrastructure. However, Tesla would not be eligible for these funds if they did not allow EVs with CCS charging equipment to use their Supercharger Network. The hope is that this will allow Tesla’s NACS standard to develop into something the automotive industry can continue to advance in collaboration.
However, it is unlikely that, given SAE International’s announcement for standards on Tesla’s NACS connector, which their Technical Information Report (TIR) calls standard J3400, the automotive industry will continue to embrace the CCS standard indefinitely. Look at the CHAdeMO charging standard’s declining popularity (outside of Japan). Newer and improved technology always gets embraced over older technology.
The head of the Transportation Electrification Center at the University of Delaware and chairman of SAE International’s J3400 NACS Task Force, Rodney McGee, has stated that CCS charging equipment has “a bulky and hard-to-handle cable” and a latch that creates too many “opportunities for damage.”
McGee added that while the certification process for Tesla’s NACS standards is still ongoing, most of the “basics have been locked down–connection types, the way you plug it in, the meat-and-potatoes items” that are “important to get out this year because carmakers other than Tesla will be using NACS by 2025.” McGee further specified that SAE International’s TIR contains all the pertinent information for “regulators, designers and engineers, people building stuff around NACS” who need “recommended practices” for safety protocols and other general information. Additionally, McGee indicated that this is only the beginning for Tesla’s NACS tech because the “J3400” standard “will gradually become more technically mature.”
Formalizing the NACS standard to make it more universal while allowing room for further development of the fledgling technology through industry-wide collaboration, as the government hopes, will create a much more reliable charging infrastructure than the one currently exists. SAE International also believes that the new NACS standard will make future charging stations less expensive to build due to NACS’s upgrades.
There are currently many automakers who have signed deals with Tesla to join their NACS Supercharger Network. They induced Audi, BMW, Fisker, Ford, Genesis, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Lexus, Lucid, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volvo & Polestar, Rivian, Scout Motors, Toyota, Porsche, and Volkswagen.
Most of these automakers will also issue adapters so that their current EV owners using the CCS standard can use both CCS and NACS networks. Stellantis, who owns Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, and Maserati, has yet to ink a deal with Tesla to join the NACS network.