Ford's adoption of Tesla's NACS hardware provokes mixed responses among industry players
Telsa and Ford recently announced a collaboration that would result in Ford's upcoming electric vehicles replacing the CCS plug with Tesla's North American Charging Standard (NACS) plug — or at least offering the two along-side each other — starting in 2024.
Ford's move to NACS has generally been received by the public as a positive step for EV adoption, since Tesla's charging experience is generally regarded as being more reliable and convenient than much of its competition. What electric vehicle charging providers do, however, might not always line up with what the public wants.
FreeWire, an EV charging network that features integrated batteries in all of its EV charging stations, responded with a fairly measured approach, stating that it "plans to make the NACS connector available on Boost Chargers by mid 2024." FreeWire didn't specify whether it was going to replace the CCS-1 (Combined Charging System) port it uses on many of
Electrify America, Volkswagen's subsidiary, argues against the adoption of the NACS, saying in a statement to CleanTechnica that it has always "focussed on building an inclusive and open Ultra-Fast charging network," and clarifying that its entire charging network is built on the SAE CCS-1 standard.
Electrify America seems to be committed to the standard because it's already widely accepted, in spite of its issues, but the company also didn't come out and say it would never support Tesla's charging standard. Electrify America added that the EV charging industry is one that is still evolving, and that it would adapt to meet the needs of the consumer as that happens.
As the EV charging infrastructure landscape continues to evolve, we continue to monitor market demand and government policies. Electrify America is committed to being a part of the broader charging solution for EV drivers today and in the future.
Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN), a global industry-agnostic non-profit organisation that exists to promote electric vehicle charging infrastructure, was much less receptive to Ford's adoption of Tesla's charging standard. CharIN, which has over 300 member companies, stated that supporting multiple charging standards is only going to cause fragmentation in the industry and lead to slower adoption, reiterating that CCS is a non-proprietary standard. CharIN also rejected the notion of CCS to NACS adaptors, citing concerns about excessive wear, safety, and poor ratings and standards regarding adaptors.
CharIN also points out that there are already 81,000 CCS-based DC fast chargers around the world, compared to Tesla's 45,000 Superchargers. Comparing the charging standards directly, CharIN notes that NACS is not a standard that is certified by ISO, IEC, or SAE, and the deal between Tesla and Ford is a proprietary implementation rather than the adoption of an open standard. The majority of CharIN's argument stems from the basis of EV adoption hinging on interoperable charging standards rather than adoption — widespread as it may be — of proprietary ones.
It remains to be seen how exactly the rest of the electric vehicle industry will proceed when it comes to charging standards, but if more and more vehicle manufacturers flip to the NACS system, it's likely that electric vehicle charger providers will have to follow suit. This type of fragmentation and ecosystem approach is exactly what led to the walled garden issues the smartphone market has dealt with for over a decade.
CharIN's response has merit, since, even though the charging hardware and specification are both open to use, Tesla's DC Superchargers have only just started to open up to other vehicle manufacturers, and anyone that adopts the NACS port is at the mercy of Tesla and the charging providers that have implemented NACS hardware in their chargers. CCS, on the other hand, is designed for backwards compatibility and interoperability with other standards without the need for additional hardware.