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Is NACS Open Source?

Is NACS Open Source?

When Tesla introduced the Model S sedan in 2012, it subsequently launched its proprietary connector, then called the Tesla Charging Connector. It would be used in subsequent Tesla electric vehicles: the Model X, 3, Y, and the Cybertruck. As the pioneer in e-mobility, Tesla owners enjoyed access to the robust Tesla Supercharger network--something J1772 EVs didn't.

The most notable feature of the Tesla connector is its ability to support both AC charging and DC fast charging. This means that Tesla electric cars won't need different connectors for different charging levels. On the other hand, J1772 EVs have to shuffle between the J1772 charging standard for Level 1 and Level 2 charging and the Combined Charging System (CCS) connector for DC charging.

While the use of J1772 chargers has long been the standard for non-Tesla EVs, the industry's clamor for a more inclusive EV charging infrastructure prompted Tesla to make a move: to establish a new North American Charging Standard. And the first step is to open-source its proprietary connector to third-party manufacturers.

Early Test Runs

Image courtesy of Arena EV

It was back in 2019 when Tesla first tried an ambitious move to open its Supercharger network to non-Tesla EVs. The company launched a limited Pilot Program in select European cities using the CCS2, as Tesla vehicles sold in the region use the said standard. As of 2023, there are 15 European countries in the Program and it has since expanded to Australia, Turkey, and Mainland China (native compatibility with GB/T standards).

In North America, Tesla started retrofitting its Superchargers with the Magic Dock, a CCS1 adapter that allows CCS-enabled EVs to charge at Tesla's Supercharging network.

Importance of Open-Source Technology in the Electric Vehicle Industry

Tesla's open-source philosophy reflects a strategic decision to promote innovation, collaboration, and industry-wide growth within the EV ecosystem. By sharing its patents, Tesla aims to accelerate EV adoption and development and potentially expand patent pools. It also helps prevent patent lawsuits and encourages third parties to develop Tesla's existing technology. This has led to strategic partnerships with major Toyota, Ford, and Rivian, enabling Tesla to leverage its expertise and resources for mutual benefit.

Image courtesy of Tesla

As more companies utilize Tesla's technology, the company gains market share and brand recognition. The increase in recognition of Tesla's technology enhances investor confidence and enables Tesla to capture a larger consumer market share. This bold move allowed Tesla to push its connector for industry-wide standardization.

Overview of the NACS Connector

The North American Charging Standard (NACS), often referred to as the Tesla charging standard or the Tesla Supercharger network, is a charging connector system developed by Tesla Motors. While called a "standard", it has yet to earn recognition from SAE International. However, the ball has been rolling since mid-2023 and just six months later, the Technical Information Report was released.

What is NACS?

While commonly mistaken for Tesla's existing connectors, the NACS is actually a modified version designed to enhance compatibility and interoperability. Tesla connectors use CAN bus to communicate, while NACS connectors use power-line communication (PLC) and the same ISO 15118 protocol as CCS connectors. This makes NACS chargers electrically compatible with CCS-enabled EVs.

The current version 3 of Tesla's Supercharger network can deliver up to 250 kW of power, but NACS chargers are set to deliver up to 80 amperes at 277 volts for AC charging and up to 500 amps at 500 volts for DC fast charging.

NACS significance in the EV industry

NACS plays a crucial role in standardizing the charging infrastructure, fostering interoperability among different EV models. By establishing a common connector system, NACS streamlines the charging process and eliminates compatibility issues, promoting the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

Compared to traditional charging standards, such as CCS, NACS offers a more streamlined and user-friendly charging experience. With its compact and robust design, the NACS connector simplifies the process of connecting EVs to charging stations, ensuring a hassle-free charging experience for users. Additionally, NACS employs advanced communication protocols to optimize charging efficiency and reliability, further enhancing the overall user experience.


At least in the North American market, vehicles practically have two classifications: Tesla and non-Tesla. Teslas use a single connector for both AC charging and high-power DC charging, while non-Teslas use J1772 for AC and CCS for DC. When the NACS is officially standardized and non-Tesla EVs with NACS charge ports become available, it could potentially signal the end of the CCS. But how do these stack up against one another? Let's delve into a comparative analysis of NACS versus CCS:

Connector Design and Compatibility:

  • NACS: Developed based on Tesla's Supercharger network, the NACS connector features a compact and user-friendly design. It utilizes power-line communication (PLC) and the ISO 15118 protocol, making it electrically compatible with CCS-enabled EVs.

  • CCS: Widely adopted in the US and Canada, CCS connectors offer compatibility with various EV models. However, their design may vary across manufacturers, with some featuring bulkier designs compared to NACS.

Charging Speed and Power:

  • NACS: Capable of delivering up to 500 amps at 500 volts for DC fast charging, NACS connectors provide rapid charging times. However, they may have a slightly slower charging rate compared to CCS.

  • CCS: With a maximum output power of 350 kW, CCS chargers offer faster charging speeds. This higher power output enables EV owners to charge their vehicles more quickly, enhancing convenience.

Interoperability and Industry Adoption:

  • NACS: Backed by major automakers like Ford, GM, and Rivian, NACS has gained traction in the industry. Its compatibility with CCS-enabled EVs underscores its potential for widespread adoption.

  • CCS: Embraced by various automotive manufacturers, CCS has established itself as a leading charging standard. Its broad industry adoption ensures compatibility with a diverse range of EV models, contributing to its popularity.

Future Outlook and Standardization Efforts:

  • NACS: With standardization efforts underway by SAE International, NACS is poised for formal recognition and commercialization. Its compatibility with Tesla's charging infrastructure further enhances its prospects for widespread adoption.

  • CCS: Despite facing competition from NACS, CCS remains a dominant player in the EV charging landscape, especially with bidirectional charging not being supported by the former.

Adoption By Various Vehicle Manufacturers and Network Operators

Ford Motor Company and General Motors were the first to announce they were adopting the NACS charge port beginning in 2025. While the first generation of non-Tesla vehicles with native NACS charge ports will not be in the market until then, Tesla is giving prior electric Ford models early access to its charging network with a NACS adapter.

Here are the EV manufacturers committed to the NACS adoption:

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

Discussions are also underway for Stellantis, which includes brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati, and Ram under its umbrella, and Volkswagen. Additionally, major charging networks such as ChargePoint and Electrify America, owned by the Volkswagen Group, have announced plans to integrate Tesla's NACS connector at their charging stations.

Image courtesy of Tech Times

Just in March 2024, Ford started to ship its own NACS adapter for free to its customers. Rivian is also offering its NACS adapter starting in April. In an update, Tesla now includes "Supercharges open to NACS" in its Supercharger map, allowing qualified non-Tesla EVs to register in their app and locate accessible Superchargers.

Third-party manufacturers have also started shipping out their NACS adapters. Lectron, for instance, has been fulfilling pre-orders of its Vortex Plug.

Challenges For Legacy Automakers

While the NACS standardization will open possibilities in the EV market, legacy automakers could face several issues, in particular, compatibility concerns.

  1. Intellectual Property Concerns: Open-sourcing NACS may raise concerns about intellectual property rights and ownership. Automakers and technology companies may be hesitant to share proprietary technology and risk losing their competitive advantage in the market.

  2. Compatibility Issues: Standardizing NACS across different EV models and charging stations may present technical challenges, particularly in ensuring backward compatibility with existing infrastructure and addressing differences in charging requirements among manufacturers. More particularly, bidirectional charging, a crucial feature of some EVs, currently use the J1772 standard, and Tesla's seeming disinterest in the technology doesn't look promising.

  3. Fragmentation Risk: Without proper governance and coordination, open-sourcing NACS could lead to fragmentation within the EV charging ecosystem, with competing standards and protocols hindering interoperability and complicating the user experience.

Future Outlook

The future direction of NACS will likely depend on industry collaboration, regulatory initiatives, and market dynamics. If NACS remains open-source and gains widespread adoption, it could emerge as a dominant charging standard, driving interoperability and innovation in the EV charging ecosystem. However, challenges such as intellectual property concerns, compatibility issues, and fragmentation risk must be addressed to realize the full potential of NACS.


  • Does Tesla own NACS?

    Contrary to popular belief, NACS is not the same proprietary connector owned by Tesla. Instead, it is a modified version developed to support both Tesla and non-Tesla charging.

  • Is there a licensing fee for NACS?

    There is no licensing fee for NACS. Tesla has taken an open-source approach, sharing the design of its Superchargers and NACS connectors with third-party manufacturers to promote industry standardization and collaboration.

  • Is Lucid switching to NACS?

    Yes, Lucid Motors has announced plans to switch to NACS. The luxury electric vehicle manufacturer intends to incorporate NACS ports into its upcoming models, aligning with the industry shift towards Tesla's charging standard.

  • What is the difference between CCS and NACS?

    The main difference between CCS and NACS lies in their design and compatibility. CCS adds fast-charging pins to the SAE J1772 AC connector, while NACS is a two-pin plug supporting both AC and DC fast charging. NACS plugs are smaller and lighter, with a more reliable charging network, while CCS connectors can deliver higher current and voltage.

  • What is the standardization of NACS SAE?

    The standardization of NACS is being led by SAE International, a global association of engineers and technical experts. Once standardized under the SAE J3400 umbrella, NACS will become an industry-recognized charging standard, facilitating interoperability and adoption of electric vehicles across North America.

  • Is NACS a 3 phase?

    Yes, NACS supports three-phase AC power. It specifically supports AC voltages commonly available in commercial areas, streets, parking garages, and dense housing locations, including 480/277-V three-phase power, which is one of the most common configurations provided by utilities in the United States.

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