A Unified Front: How the NACS Alliance is Changing the EV Landscape — Lectron EV Skip to content
A Unified Front: How the NACS Alliance is Changing the EV Landscape

A Unified Front: How the NACS Alliance is Changing the EV Landscape

A radical change is happening in the electric vehicle (EV) industry – and it's more significant than you might think. In 2019, Tesla began a transformative move by opening its Supercharger network to non-Tesla EVs. Fast forward five years, and major automakers are now adopting the very ports that were once exclusive to Tesla.

Tesla Chargers: The Gold Standard in EV Charging

Tesla chargers have set a high benchmark for EV charging, offering a robust network and a seamless experience. Non-Tesla drivers, with vehicles like the Chevy Bolt and BMW, have relied on third-party J1772 to Tesla adapters to utilize this proprietary connector.

With the 2030 target to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles in the US, there's an increasing push to expand charging infrastructure. President Joe Biden has earmarked a significant $7.5 billion budget to prepare the country for mass electrification.

In response to the need for more accessible and efficient charging solutions, manufacturers are now looking to Tesla's North American Charging Standard (NACS) ports.

What is NACS?

NACS, initially known as the "Tesla charging connector," is Tesla's proprietary direct current (DC) fast charging connector standard. Unlike the Combined Charging System (CCS), which adds two DC pins to the existing J1772 or Mennekes connector, Tesla’s version utilizes a compact connector capable of high-capacity charging. This innovation has led to Tesla Superchargers being more scalable and easier to maintain. As of May 2023, there are about 19,210 Supercharger ports in the US.

NACS and EV Adoption

The expansion of Tesla's Supercharger network to accommodate non-Tesla EVs is poised to significantly boost EV adoption. The increase in charging stations, particularly the 250 kW Supercharger stations strategically located along highways, makes long-distance travel more practical for EV users of all brands. This move not only enhances the existing infrastructure but also addresses a critical concern for potential EV buyers: the availability of reliable and fast charging options.

In addition to expanding its network, Tesla has committed to doubling the number of its charging locations across the nation and maintaining them effectively. The federal government mandates a 97% uptime for these chargers, requiring Tesla to ensure that any issues are resolved swiftly, typically within an average of less than 11 days. This requirement is crucial, considering that currently, one in every five public charging attempts fails due to poor maintenance. Improving the reliability of these chargers is expected to greatly reduce the frequency of such failures.

By the end of 2024, Tesla plans to have 7,500 Supercharger stations operational, which will substantially aid the growth of EV adoption. The availability of these high-capacity Supercharger stations, especially along major travel corridors, is set to transform long-distance EV travel into a more feasible and appealing option for drivers, irrespective of their vehicle brand. Overall, Tesla's initiative to open its charging network marks a significant stride towards creating a more interconnected and interoperable charging ecosystem, thereby removing a major hurdle for those considering the switch to electric vehicles.

Which EVs are Switching to NACS?

In a significant industry shift, numerous leading car manufacturers are aligning with the future of electric vehicle charging by incorporating Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) ports into their EVs. While these automakers will gain access to Tesla's Superchargers starting in 2024, the actual integration of NACS ports on new vehicle models is more likely to begin from 2025 onwards. This interim period will necessitate the use of NACS to CCS adapters. The automakers committed to this transition include:

  • BMW and its subsidiaries Mini and Rolls-Royce
  • Fisker
  • Ford
  • Genesis
  • GM (General Motors)
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar
  • Kia
  • Lexus
  • Lucid
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Nissan
  • Polestar/Volvo
  • Rivian
  • Toyota

In addition to these brands, Stellantis — which includes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati, and Ram — and Volkswagen are reportedly in discussions to also adopt the NACS charge port. Furthermore, major charging networks like ChargePoint and Electrify America (owned by the Volkswagen Group) have announced plans to integrate Tesla's NACS connector at their charging stations.

A comprehensive list of all NACS alliance automakers can be found here.

Advantages and Challenges

The industry-wide adoption of Tesla's North American Charging Standard (NACS) is set to revolutionize the EV charging experience. This shift towards a unified standard offers several advantages:

  • Seamless Charging Experience: EV owners can enjoy a standardized charging process across different vehicle brands, enhancing convenience and usability.
  • Interoperability: Tesla's decision to open its Supercharger network to other automakers promotes a more integrated charging infrastructure.
  • Expanded Infrastructure: The move addresses range anxiety by significantly increasing the number of available charging stations, thereby contributing to the growth of the EV market.
  • Simplified Process: The adoption of NACS eliminates the need for multiple memberships or adapters, streamlining the charging process for EV owners and fostering wider acceptance and adoption of electric vehicles.

However, challenges remain, particularly in the speed of implementation. As the industry anticipates the rollout of 2024-2025 EV models with NACS ports, Tesla's progress in upgrading its chargers to be CCS-compatible is slower than expected. As of March 2023, only a fraction of Tesla's Supercharger stations are accessible to non-Tesla vehicles, significantly below the targeted number.

To mitigate these challenges, third-party solutions like the Lectron Vortex Plug are emerging. Specifically designed for brands in the CCS alliance seeking early access to Tesla’s network, the Vortex Plug allows CCS-enabled non-Tesla EVs to use Supercharger stations. This adapter, with its high current and voltage capacity, not only compensates for the slow rollout of Tesla’s chargers but also serves as a transitional solution, allowing non-NACS-equipped EVs to access the Tesla network.

The adoption of Tesla's NACS marks a pivotal moment in the EV industry, leading towards standardization in EV charging. This shift not only streamlines the charging process but also addresses long-standing concerns about the practicality and convenience of electric vehicles. With major automakers aligning with the NACS standard, the once-divided EV landscape is gradually transforming into a cohesive ecosystem.

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