Tesla Bags Big Wins in Ongoing Charging Expansion
Texas transportation authorities rubber-stamped the inclusion of Tesla’s North American Charging Standard in state infrastructure expansion plans. Here’s the latest on Tesla’s growing charging business.
Texas transportation officials have agreed to include Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) in the state’s charging infrastructure expansion plans, giving the company an edge over the longstanding Combined Charging System (CCS) standard. The Texas-headquartered EV giant has also landed commitments from several major automakers to install its charge port and connector in future EV models.
Tesla’s North American Charging Standard is expected to become ubiquitous as it gains market share over the incumbent Combined Charging System. Image used courtesy of Tesla
Texas Involves Tesla Tech in Federal Funding Distribution Plans
The Texas Transportation Commission approved new rules incorporating Tesla’s NACS in new charging stations built under its federally funded infrastructure expansion. Companies must include NACS alongside the incumbent CCS technology to receive local funding distributions.
The ruling applies to Texas’s share of the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, which supplies states with grants covering up to 80% of project costs for deploying EV charging stations and interconnected charging networks. Texas is expected to receive $407.7 million through NEVI (more than any other state) from 2022 to 2026. Per federal NEVI guidance, stations should provide at least four CCS ports designed to charge four EVs simultaneously at a power of 150 kilowatts each. Texas’s decision to open access for NACS deviates from these guidelines, as states can independently set their own charging options when distributing funds locally.
Texas’s grant program will accept applications for EV charging infrastructure along its Electric Alternative Fuel Corridors through October 2023. The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) expects NACS adoption by automakers (which we’ll cover in the next section) to happen between 2024 and 2025, allowing time to expand access in future phases of its charging plan. The DOT’s presentation to the Texas Transportation Commission mentioned that new connectors beyond CCS and NACS could be included in future phases if and when vehicle manufacturers, charging networks, and equipment suppliers develop and standardize other charging options.
The DOT’s presentation said the two-connector approach would ensure 97% access for the 168,847 EVs in the state with fast charging ports; another 44,017 don’t have fast charge ports.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s August 2023 presentation to the Texas Transportation Commission shows Tesla’s NACS has the state’s largest market share of fast charging ports. Image used courtesy of the Texas Department of Transportation (slide 3)
EV adoption is growing in Texas, ranking third in the country for EV registrations behind California and Florida. Per the latest draft of the state’s EV charging plan, non-Tesla models comprise 41% of the 212,864 plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicles registered in Texas as of August 2023. NACS has a 75% market share of direct current fast charging (DCFC) ports, totaling 126,502. CCS 1 has a 22% share with 37,263 connectors, while CHAdeMO only accounts for 3%. The draft plan specifies that each port must have at least one SAE CCS 1 connector and one NACS connector.
NACS’s inclusion comes after a group of companies—including charging network ChargePoint and equipment suppliers ABB and EVBox—called on Texas authorities to delay the decision as they test Tesla’s connectors to ensure interoperability. CCS has long been certified as an industry-standard connector for EV charging equipment. Standards-setting organization SAE International plans to develop a new NACS-specific standard on an expedited deadline. Still, NACS has already achieved heavy market penetration: According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. has 6,289 public NACS charging connectors, while CCS only accounts for 5,693.
If other states decide to include Tesla’s standard in their infrastructure expansion plans, it would be a boon for the company’s charging business. Its Supercharger network has become one of the largest fast-charging providers, with over 45,000 Superchargers spread globally. ScrapeHero data counts 1,841 Supercharger locations across the U.S. Tesla recently inked a deal with Ford and General Motors to make more than 12,000 Superchargers in the U.S. and Canada available to the companies’ EV owners.
Honda Is the Latest Auto Giant Switching to NACS
Tesla started adding NACS in its vehicles in 2012, and the connector design was made available to charging network operators and manufacturers in November 2022.
Honda recently announced it’s joining other leading players, including General Motors and Nissan, in adopting NACS for its future EVs and that of its luxury arm, Acura. The expansion will start with the Acura ZDX, which uses shared technology with GM’s Ultium battery platform. The company said that once GM moves to NACS, the ZDX switch will follow in 2025 or 2026.
Honda executives confirmed the move in an exclusive interview with AutoBlog. Jay Joseph, vice president of sustainability and business development at American Honda, pointed out the shortcomings of existing public chargers and said Tesla’s Supercharger network is low maintenance as staff monitor the equipment on-site and remotely.
Industry-Wide NACS Adoption Commitments
Ford became the first automaker to announce the switch from CCS to NACS earlier this year. A recent NPR segment with Ford CEO Jim Farley noted that the deal was partially motivated by the lack of quality charging stations, as drivers frequently encounter broken or unavailable non-Tesla plugs.
Starting in 2024, Ford EV drivers will have access to over 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada, doubling the number of DC fast chargers in Ford’s BlueOval Charge Network (currently 10,000). Ford’s future EVs will include the NACS port in 2025, though an adapter will be available for CCS-compatible models.
A Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle charges up at a Tesla station. Image used courtesy of Ford
Other major EV players have followed suit, including General Motors (also switching its plug for new EVs by 2025), Nissan (offering NACS-equipped ports in U.S. and Canadian EVs starting in 2025), Volvo (also by 2025), and Mercedes-Benz (including the plug in all EVs by 2025).
Despite committing to equipping future EV models with NACS ports, many automakers are looking to rival Tesla’s charging station dominance. GM, Mercedes, Honda, and other major car giants recently formed a joint venture to build a fast-charging network with at least 30,000 charge points, with the first U.S. stations set to open in mid-2024 and later in Canada. The new stations would be accessible to any BEV from any automaker using CCS or NACS systems.