How Tesla Won the EV Charging Battle

Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

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Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.

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Tesla’s Supercharger network has changed the face of EV charging in America. Now it’s changing how rival automakers build their EVs. Here’s what to expect from future EVs.

Tesla supercharger up close view

In April 2024, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, abruptly fired the entire Supercharger team. Don’t let that fool you into thinking they’d done a bad job.

Quite the contrary.

In just a few years, the Supercharger department at Tesla has completely changed the future of EV charging. Both in the US and worldwide.

How Tesla charged ahead

Most EVs available in 2024 aren’t immediately compatible with Tesla’s proprietary charging stations, known as the North American Charging Standard (NACS) 

Trust Musk to give Tesla charging technology a grandiose name.

Instead, rival automakers typically use something called the Combined Charging System (CCS).

The NACS and CCS have different connectors.

Basically, if you have an EV with a CCS compatible connector, you can’t plug it into the Tesla Supercharger Stations for faster, more convenient charging.

Unless, that is, you purchase a special adapter, such as the Magic Dock. This lets you plug a CCS vehicle into an NACS port and use Supercharger locations.

Is J1772 the same as CCS?

The CCS connector uses the SAE J1772 charging inlet and ‘combines’ (adds) two pins below for high speed charging.

How did Tesla achieve what amounts to a monopoly on EV charging tech? As with many things, good design wins out.

The beauty of the NACS connector is that it:

  • Supports both AC charging and DC fast charging through the same connector
  • Has a smaller, lighter design compared to CCS
  • Is more user-friendly.
Tesla Supercharger in Jackson, WY

A two-stage takeover

Thanks to the successful rollout of Tesla’s Supercharger network of EV charging stations, though, most automakers have little choice but to get on board and adopt Tesla compatible charging technology for their future EVs.

The charging technology transition appears to be happening in two stages. 

  1. EVs already in production for 2024 will typically ship with adaptors that enable drivers to use the Supercharger network/NACS charging stations
  2. New 2025 model vehicles will integrate the NACS port natively, i.e., no adaptor necessary.

So far, a huge number of major and minor EV manufacturers have said they’ll adopt Tesla’s NACS technology in plug-in models for 2024-2025.

Here’s how it’s likely to roll out.

Ford takes the lead

Ford was one of the first automakers to see the writing on the wall. By signing up to Tesla technology, Ford has a head start and will roll out EVs with NACS ports from 2025 models on. 

For EVs delivered in 2024, Ford is including adaptors, so as to attract customers with concerns about access to charging stations.

Current EVs such as the 2024 Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning will be delivered to customers with CCS-to-NACS adapters.

Beyond that, Ford will integrate NACS ports for all its EVs in 2024/2025.

GM will also provide adaptors for EVs it ships in 2024, as will Rivian from April 2024 onwards.

Other automakers have said they’ll begin integrating NACS ports as standard on new and refreshed EV models from Q4 2024. These manufacturers include:

  • Hyundai
  • Kia
  • Genesis.

For 2025 models, the following automakers plan to integrate NACS ports:

  • Toyota
  • Lexus
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo
  • Audi
  • Porsche
  • Mazda (in the US)
  • Jaguar (but not Land Rover)
  • BMW Group (Mini, Rolls-Royce)
  • Lucid
  • Rivian.

Other brands say they’ll likely adopt NACS sometime in 2025:

  • Nissan
  • Honda
  • Subaru
  • Lotus
  • Fisker
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Stellantis.

Final thoughts

There’s no getting away from Tesla charging technology. NACS is here to stay, and it’s not just automakers feeling the pressure to adopt Tesla tech.

Even Tesla Supercharger rival, Electrify America, is considering adding NACS connectors to its charging stations. After all, if NACS vehicles become the norm, Electrify America will lose out if customers can’t charge their EVs at its locations.

All in all, NACS adoption is firmly underway in the US. So, if you have an older EV that uses CCS, you might want to consider getting an adaptor.

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