If you'd asked me back in November 2022 when Tesla announced they were "opening the North American Charging Standard" — making the previously proprietary Tesla charigng connector available to other manufacturers — I would've told you that I didn't expect much to come of it. Everybody else seemed pretty well committed to the competing CCS1 standard.

Rivian R1S Charging
Source: Rivian

Well, I was wrong. Not only did Ford and GM see the NACS light and commit to adopting the connector by 2025, but today electric truck builder Rivian announced that they will start shipping NACS-equipped vehicles in 2025. Rivian is an up-and-coming American electric vehicle maker, capturing both hearts and wallets with their very capable R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV, and a healthy 3% of the American EV market in the first quarter of this year

Rivian will also sell an adapter the their existing fleet of CCS-equipped trucks so they can start using Tesla Superchargers and other NACS chargers — and that will be available as soon as the spring of 2024.

Tesla, Ford, GM, and Rivian account for 3/4 of EVs sold in the US — and they're all on the NACS bandwagon.

Why the rapid changeover? Frankly, it's the Tesla Supercharger network and the minimal disruption that these companies will undergo making the change. Tesla currently accounts for top 60% of American EV sales, and while the size of the EV pie is growing other manufacturers aren't delivering them in nearly the same quantity as Tesla. Making the commitment now to a different charging connector, giving themselves 18+ months to make the changeover, and offering adapters for existing and near-future customers that buy CCS connector cars. It'll be a minor hassle for those customers, but in the years ahead it will be a simpler ecosystem for everybody.

Adding Rivian to the NACS party puts Tesla's connector up to more than 75% of EVs being sold in the US. Other major auto brands in the US like Stellantis (Chrysler, Jeep, RAM) and Hyundai (with subrand Kia) haven't yet declared their support for CCS or NACS — but they are considering it. Stellantis told Reuters that they "continue to evaluate the NACS standard and look forward to discussing more in the future" (i.e. they're leaning hard towards switching to NACS) while Hyundai is also looking at it but is concerned by the potentially slower charging of Tesla's 400-volt system versus the 800-volt architecture that Hyundai and Kia vehicles use. While the NACS documentation provides for up to 1000-volt connections, Tesla's Superchargers currently max out at 400V.

If it helps influence their decision at all, Tesla's Superchargers soon won't be the only option for NACS charging. Almost every EV charging company has committed to adding NACS connectors to their charging stations. Participating companies include:

  • ABB E-mobility, which doesn't operate a network of its own but sells chargers for others to install.
  • Blink, a charging network across the USA, will add NACS to its new 240V DC fast charger alongside CCS1 connectors.
  • Chargepoint, one of the largest EV charging networks and a seller for third-party installs, will "soon be offering a NACS connector option" for its newest products, as well as "cost-effective field upgrades".
  • EVgo, which started fielding some chargers with the Tesla connector in 2020 and intends to to add NACS to future chargers and will update some existing chargers.
  • Flo, a charging network that's mostly in Canada but also working their way into the US Northeast.
  • Freewire, which makes chargers for other companies and for non-networked installations.
  • SK Signet, who makes chargers for networks like Electrify America, opened a US manufacturing plant in Texas just a few weeks ago and plans to add NACS to their options.
  • Tritium, a manufacturer for networks like BP Pulse will offer NACS as an option on its fast chargers.
  • Wallbox, a seller of both home chargers and DC fast chargers, will offering NACS for its coming-soon-to-America Supernova DC fast charger.

The biggest outlier so far is Electrify America, a VW subsidiary born of their diesel emissions cheating settlement. They haven't publicly committed to adding NACS connectors to their new or existing chargers, though seeing as SK Signet is one of their suppliers, it might only be a matter of time before Electrify America joins the NACS club.

The only thing raining on the NACS parade right now is the US government. The rules written for EV charger incentives from the federal government required the inclusion of CCS connectors, but to not prohibit the addition of a separate NACS plug, and they are holding firm on that, at least for now. It would take a stroke of the pen to add NACS to the allowed standards, and if enough companies commit to NACS and lobby the government for that rules change it may yet go through.

Even so, the winds of change are such that the American auto industry may just abandon CCS even if there aren't government incentives. They're going where the money is, and access to the by-far largest DC fast charging network is apparently incentive enough.

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