sponge The EV charger plug migration continues to gather steam. Since we last wrote about the subject, first Polestar and then Mercedes-Benz also announced that they dropped the Combined Charging Standard 1 (CCS1) connector in favor of Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS). Next year, non-Tesla electric vehicles from manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Volvo, and Rivian will begin using Tesla’s Supercharger network. In 2025, those automakers—and maybe a few others—will start making cars with NACS ports built in.
It’s not just the car makers. Manufacturers of chargers and charging networks also announce new NACS products, and feel that there is enough critical mass built up that CCS1 can be eliminated. Or at least it can be relegated to curio status alongside CHAdeMO. Things are looking better now that SAE International is in charge of NACS, so it can no longer be controlled by a rival OEM run by a billionaire known for impulsive and often arbitrary decisions. At this point, many are waiting to see if Hyundai Motor Group or Volkswagen Group will be the next big convert.
The rationale for dropping an entrenched standard and moving to NACS, from Ford and others, is the same as getting access for their EV owners to Tesla’s Supercharger network, and why not? Even the most hardened partisan from the EV brand flame wars must agree that not only are there more Superchargers out there, but they offer a better charging experience than any of the public charging networks.
But does that automatically mean that switching from CCS1 to NACS will guarantee a better charging experience for all Fords, Chevys, Rivians, Volvos, Polestars, and Mercedes? I’m not entirely sure. I have three big unanswered questions: Will the non-Tesla fit the Superchargers, will the non-Tesla fit? on of Superchargers, and why should we believe that a different plug will suddenly make all those terrible unreliable third-party charging networks suddenly run perfectly?
For hardware makers — cars and chargers alike — the switch in theory shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, NACS actually uses the same communication protocol as CCS (and also ISO15118, also known as “plug and charge”), unlike previous versions of the Supercharger network that used a proprietary communications protocol that used interface to a Tesla’s CAN bus.
Will it fit?
But the first big problem for drivers from all that Tesla does not encounter is whether the charging cable can reach their charging port. As a completely closed ecosystem (so far), Tesla has been able to optimize the Supercharger experience for its EVs. That’s why all Teslas have charging ports in the same location (at the back, integrated into the side of a light cluster), which in turn means that Superchargers don’t need long cables to reach them.
Other brands’ ports are all over the place—usually on a front wing ahead of the door, but sometimes behind the C-pillar—but there’s little standardization of which side of the car they go on. We don’t know if Tesla will redesign the Superchargers to accommodate the new arrivals, but if so, “you’ll need long cables to get to each charging port position,” he said. Dennis Mueller, SVP of product marketing and communications at ADS-TEC, which makes EV charging hardware. “A long cable means they’re heavy; there’s a lot of copper and stuff.”
Those longer cables aren’t just expensive; they are also heavier and more unwieldy. And it’s not really the plastic CCS1 plug that contributes to the bulky cables you have to deal with with an Electrify America or Chargepoint (or whoever) fast charger; these are all copper cables.