What does Tesla NACS mean? — Lectron EV Skip to content
What does Tesla NACS mean?

What does Tesla NACS mean?

The North American Charging Standard (NACS), alternatively referred to as the Tesla charging standard or the Tesla Supercharger network, is a charging connector system developed by Tesla Motors. Despite common assumptions, the NACS differs from Tesla's current connectors; it's more of a revised edition, using a distinct protocol.

By 2025, major electric vehicle manufacturers such as Ford, Audi, and BMW will start using NACS ports in their EVs. Before NACS-equipped electric cars hit our roads, here's everything you need to know about this new charging standard.

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Brief history and development of Tesla NACS

In December 2019, Tesla initiated a test run of non-Tesla Supercharging in select European cities. This move signaled Tesla's early exploration of opening up its proprietary charging infrastructure to vehicles from other manufacturers. The test run provided valuable insights into the feasibility and potential benefits of interoperable charging solutions.

Release of Supercharger Design to Third Parties (2022)

In 2022, Tesla took a significant step toward standardization by releasing the Supercharger design to third parties. By making its fast charging technology available to other stakeholders, the EV giant aimed to establish the Tesla Supercharger Network as the de facto fast charging standard in North America. This decision reflected Tesla's commitment to fostering collaboration and driving industry-wide innovation in the EV charging space.

Introduction of NACS Connector

Distinct from the proprietary Tesla connector, NACS connectors represent a modified version designed to enhance compatibility and interoperability. Unlike the traditional CAN bus communication used in the Tesla charging connector, the NACS utilizes power-line communication (PLC). The NACS employs the ISO 15118 protocol, aligning it with the Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors commonly used in the industry. This strategic alignment ensures electrical compatibility with any CCS-enabled EV for seamless charging experiences across different vehicle brands.

Main Selling Points of NACS Standardization

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The compact and robust design of the NACS connector, coupled with its compatibility with CCS-enabled EVs, emerged as the main selling point for standardizing the NACS. Unlike the bulkier CCS connectors, the NACS connector offers a more streamlined and user-friendly design, enhancing the overall charging experience for EV owners. Additionally, its compatibility with existing industry standards underscores Tesla's commitment to promoting interoperability and driving the adoption of electric mobility on a broader scale.

How Does NACS Charging Work

The NACS charging system is designed to accommodate both AC (alternating current) charging and DC (direct current) fast charging for electric vehicles (EVs). Here's how it works:

Charging Capabilities

The NACS standard supports both AC and DC charging. For AC charging, the system can deliver up to 80 amps at 277 volts. When it comes to DC fast charging, NACS can provide up to 500 amps at up to 500 volts. However, in residential setups, the more common configuration delivers up to 48 amps of current at 240 volts.

Connector Design and Operation

Image courtesy of Tesla

The NACS connector features a user-friendly design with a single button located on the top center of the handle. When the button is depressed, the connector emits a UHF (ultra-high frequency) signal. This signal serves as a command to the vehicle: when the connector locks into place, the signal instructs the vehicle to retract the latch holding the connector. Conversely, when the connector isn't locked, the signal prompts the nearby vehicle to open the door covering the inlet, facilitating seamless connection.

Safety Mechanisms

The NACS standard incorporates several safety mechanisms to ensure the protection of end-users during the charging process. One notable aspect is the regulation of heat generated during charging to prevent overheating and associated risks. By implementing rigorous safety protocols and standards, NACS prioritizes the safety and well-being of EV owners and operators.

Communication Protocol

Crucially, NACS and CCS (Combined Charging System) utilize the same communications protocol between the EV and the charging station. This standardized protocol enables seamless communication and coordination between the vehicle and the charging infrastructure. By agreeing on charging parameters and ensuring adherence to safety protocols, NACS and CCS facilitate a safe and efficient charging experience for EV users.

Importance and Impact of Tesla NACS in the Electric Vehicle Industry

The expansion of Tesla's Supercharger network to accommodate non-Tesla EVs represents a pivotal development with far-reaching implications for the EV industry. By opening its charging infrastructure to vehicles of all brands, Tesla is poised to significantly boost EV adoption and reshape the landscape of electric mobility.

Enhanced Accessibility and Convenience

The increase in charging stations, particularly the introduction of 250 kW Supercharger stations strategically located along highways, addresses a critical concern for potential EV buyers: the availability of reliable and fast charging options. This expansion makes long-distance travel more practical and appealing for EV users, regardless of their vehicle brand. By facilitating seamless charging experiences across a broader spectrum of EVs, Tesla is democratizing access to electric mobility and breaking down barriers to adoption.

Improved Reliability and Maintenance

In addition to expanding its network, Tesla has committed to doubling the number of its charging locations nationwide and ensuring their effective maintenance. The federal government mandates a 97% uptime for these chargers, underscoring the importance of reliability in driving EV adoption. By swiftly resolving any issues that arise, typically within an average of less than 11 days, Tesla is addressing one of the key challenges faced by EV owners: the reliability of public charging infrastructure. This proactive approach to maintenance is expected to significantly reduce the frequency of charging failures and enhance the overall user experience.

Transformative Impact on Long-Distance Travel

By the end of 2024, Tesla aims to have 7,500 Supercharger stations operational, marking a substantial milestone in the expansion of its charging network. These high-capacity Supercharger stations, particularly strategically placed along major travel routes, are set to make long-distance EV travel more practical and attractive for drivers. This extensive network coverage ensures that EV owners can embark on cross-country journeys with confidence, knowing that reliable charging infrastructure is readily available along their route.

Creating an Interconnected Charging Ecosystem

Tesla's initiative to open its charging network to non-Tesla EVs represents a significant stride towards creating a more interconnected and interoperable charging ecosystem. By embracing industry-wide standardization, Tesla is promoting a spirit of inclusivity and cooperation within the EV community. This move not only benefits EV owners by providing greater flexibility and convenience but also accelerates the transition to electric mobility on a global scale.

Removing Hurdles to EV Adoption

Ultimately, Tesla's commitment to expanding its charging network and welcoming non-Tesla EVs represents a significant step forward in overcoming the hurdles to EV adoption. By addressing concerns related to charging infrastructure availability, reliability, and interoperability, Tesla is making electric mobility more accessible and appealing to a broader audience. This proactive approach to infrastructure development underscores Tesla's leadership in the EV industry and reinforces its commitment to driving sustainable transportation solutions.

Tesla NACS Charging Network

Tesla's Supercharger network stands as one of the most extensive and well-established charging networks globally. As of now, there are nearly 2,000 Tesla Supercharger stations equipped with over 17,000 chargers across the United States. These stations are strategically located along major travel routes, enabling Tesla owners to embark on long-distance journeys with confidence. In addition to standalone Supercharger stations, Tesla has also collaborated with other companies to integrate the Tesla Destination Charger network - an infrastructure located in various destinations, such as hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers.

In July 2023, BMW Group, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis NV announced plans to create a new charging network joint venture. The partnership aims to install at least 30,000 high-powered charge points in urban and highway locations across North America. These charging stations will be accessible to all EV customers, offering both CCS and NACS connectors. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2024, this initiative marks a significant expansion of charging infrastructure, providing EV owners with enhanced accessibility and flexibility.

Electrify America Partnership

In June 2023, EV charging giant Electrify America announced it is adding NACS connectors to Electrify America and Electrify Canada’s fast charging network. By 2025, the company aims to offer NACS connector options at existing and future charging stations as part of its commitment to promote vehicle interoperability and simplify public charging. Electrify America will continue supporting the Combined Charging System (CCS-1) connector across its network while introducing the NACS connector to accommodate automakers integrating NACS charge ports.

How to Access NACS-compatible Tesla Superchargers

If you're driving a non-Tesla EV and need to find NACS-compatible Tesla Superchargers, you can follow these simple steps:

1. Public Charging Apps

  • Tap on the Home icon on your vehicle’s touchscreen.

  • Select Public Charging.

  • The app will display the nearest charging stations to your vehicle's current location.

  • Tesla Superchargers will be identified with a label indicating the need for an adapter.

  • Stations that are incompatible will be marked with a red alert stating "Station not compatible."

  • If you haven't received your Ford NACS adapter or don't have it on hand, you have the option to hide stations that require the adapter. You can do this by selecting the Filters button in the Public Charging App.

2. Tesla App

  • Download the Tesla App on your phone.

  • Register your vehicle details to automatically see which NACS Superchargers you can charge at.

  • Enter your location.

3. Tesla Website

  • Open Tesla’s “Find Us” page.

  • Enter your current location.

  • Select “Superchargers Open to NACS” from the filter options.

  • This will refine your search, displaying only the upgraded Tesla Superchargers near you that are compatible with non-Tesla EVs.

Tesla NACS and Electric Vehicle Industry

Tesla's adoption of the North American Charging Standard has significant implications for various stakeholders in the EV industry.

EV Manufacturer:

The integration of Tesla NACS into the charging infrastructure presents an opportunity for EV manufacturers to standardize charging protocols. This alignment streamlines the charging experience for consumers and encourages the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

EV Driver:

Benefits: EV drivers using Tesla NACS plugs gain access to a robust charging network, enhancing convenience and enabling longer journeys. The interoperability with Tesla's Supercharger network expands charging options, reducing range anxiety and promoting EV adoption.

Experiences: EV drivers appreciate the seamless integration of NACS with Tesla's charging infrastructure, facilitating easy access to charging stations. However, challenges such as adapter compatibility issues or station availability may affect the overall experience.

Existing EVs:

Compatibility: The compatibility of existing EVs with Tesla NACS depends on their charging port specifications. Vehicles equipped with NACS-compatible charging ports can seamlessly utilize Tesla's charging infrastructure, expanding charging options for EV owners.

Non-Tesla Vehicles:

Considerations: Non-Tesla EV owners using Tesla NACS must ensure compatibility with their vehicles and may need to invest in adapters or accessories to access Tesla's charging network. While this provides additional charging options, it's essential to verify compatibility and understand any limitations.

Tesla NACS Adoption and Future Developments

The adoption of Tesla's North American Charging Standard (NACS) has gained momentum among major car manufacturers, including Lucid, BMW, Ford, and GM, who have committed to incorporating NACS-compatible charging ports into their electric vehicles by 2025. This widespread adoption signals a significant shift towards standardization in the electric vehicle industry.

SAE International, the regulating body for automotive standards, has played a crucial role in the development and recognition of NACS. Following the switch by Ford and GM to the NACS charge port in May 2023, SAE International announced plans to standardize the connector under the SAE J3400 umbrella. This move accelerates the formal recognition of NACS and paves the way for its commercialization.

Tesla's decision to switch to NACS reflects its commitment to promoting interoperability and standardization in electric vehicle charging. By retrofitting its Superchargers with the "Magic Dock" adapter, Tesla aims to facilitate access for non-Tesla EVs to its charging network. The phased rollout, prioritizing early adopters like GM and Ford, demonstrates Tesla's strategic approach to integrating NACS into its charging infrastructure.

Future Developments

While the official standardization of NACS under the SAE J3400 is targeted for Fall 2024, Tesla is already taking steps to adapt its charging infrastructure to accommodate NACS-compatible EVs. Third-party manufacturers, such as Lectron, have also introduced NACS-to-CCS adapters to aid in the transition.

The adoption of NACS as a standardized connector has the potential to drive innovation in charging technology and infrastructure. As more automakers and charging station operators embrace NACS, investment in research and development for faster, more efficient charging solutions is expected to increase. This could lead to advancements such as higher charging capacities, improved battery technologies, and smarter grid integration, ultimately enhancing the appeal and practicality of electric vehicles.

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