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Tesla’s Fast Charging Tech Is Clearly Better, But …

CharIN has put out a forceful article on why it is unlikely to be a public charging standard. We’ll see about that….

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Tesla’s fast charging tech is second to none. It’s Superchargers are relatively small, fast, powerful, and easy to use. Furthermore, they are unmatched in reliability.

As Tesla explains it, the Tesla charging connector “has no moving parts, is half the size, and twice as powerful as Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors.” What’s not to love?

CleanTechnica research as well as other research and anecdotal evidence indicates that access to Tesla’s Supercharger network is the primary reason many people buy Teslas, and even the sole reason according to some Tesla owners.

Aside from tech superiority of what Tesla now calls the North American Charging Standard (NACS), there’s the fact that most electric vehicles in the United States use Tesla’s system — because most electric vehicles sold in the US have been Teslas. It’s a similar thing with the number of installed chargers. “NACS vehicles outnumber CCS two-to-one, and Tesla’s Supercharging network has 60% more NACS posts than all the CCS-equipped networks combined.”

The evidence is piling up that Tesla’s charging protocol should be a public standard. So, why not push for this earlier?

Years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that electric vehicle from non-Tesla OEMs could use Tesla Superchargers if those automakers designed compatible vehicles and contributed to the cost of developing the superfast charging network. There was murmuring off and on that some other automakers were going to take Tesla up on the offer, but nothing ever came of that. Instead of expecting competitors to help fund the charging network — along with swallowing massive amounts of pride and designing their cars to be compatible — perhaps Tesla should have just allowed open access years ago. It appears that what stimulated the change is federal and perhaps state funding for EV charging stations, funding that requires open access to the chargers. Some funding may even be tied to the chargers using a public standard. Such requirements came a bit earlier in Europe, where the ability to win permits for key charging locations has been tied to open access to the charging stations (i.e., the stations not being for only Tesla drivers).

Whatever the impetus was, Tesla is now working to get its charging connector designated as a public standard. “Network operators already have plans in motion to incorporate NACS at their chargers, so Tesla owners can look forward to charging at other networks without adapters. Similarly, we look forward to future electric vehicles incorporating the NACS design and charging at Tesla’s North American Supercharging and Destination Charging networks,” Tesla writes. “As a purely electrical and mechanical interface agnostic to use case and communication protocol, NACS is straightforward to adopt. The design and specification files are available for download, and we are actively working with relevant standards bodies to codify Tesla’s charging connector as a public standard. Enjoy.”

So, that’s Tesla’s argument, but an organization that has been working on public charging standards for years has responded with its take on why it thinks Tesla should just stay in its lane. The organization, CharIN, actually counts Tesla as a partner. CharIN makes a few points, but the gist of it is that it takes years of cooperation and negotiation and testing to come up with technical industry standards, and the work has already been put in for more than a decade on the CCS charging standards and MCS standards. In other words, “we’ve been doing this for years — we’re not starting over now.” (Not a direct quote.) For CharIN’s arguments in its own words, here’s the full press release:

In response to Tesla’s announcement on November 11, 2022 to publicly-release the North American Charging Standard (NACS), the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN e.V.) and its CharIN North America Chapter (operating as CharIN Inc.), would like to issue the following statement. CharIN is the largest global association focused on the electrification of all forms of transportation based on the seamless and interoperable charging experience enabled by the Combined Charging System (CCS) and the Megawatt Charging System (MCS). CCS and MCS are the global standards for charging vehicles of all kinds.

CharIN applauds Tesla for including DIN 70121 and ISO 15118-02 communication standards for the NACS proposal. We also appreciate Tesla’s effort to move the e-mobility market forward even faster than it is moving now.

However, we encourage stakeholders to investigate ways to focus on market acceleration rather than the creation of yet another form factor alternative, which will lead to further consumer confusion and delay EV adoption. CCS has gone through many years of rigorous standardization processes, which is a required activity for any new standard proposal. After a decade of collaborative work, the domestic and international EV industry has aligned around CCS. For example:

  • Nearly 300 domestic and international CharIN members are using or investing in CCS.
  • The majority of major domestic and international automakers are using and supporting CCS, including Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai/Kia, Lucid, Lotus, Mazda, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Navistar, New Flyer, Nikola, Nissan, PSA Groupe, Proterra, Renault, Rivian, Scania, Stellantis, Subaru, Suzuki, Tata Motors, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo, and Volkswagen.
  • In the U.S., CCS is used in over 50 passenger vehicle models.
  • The Combined Charging System can connect to all AC charging stations without an adapter via the J1772 standard.
  • Worldwide, there are 61,000 DC fast chargers using the CCS connector, compared to 40,000 Tesla Super chargers according to data published by CharIN and Tesla.
  • In North America (including the U.S. and Canada) there are 18,880 CCS connectors compared to 18,405 Tesla Super charger connectors and 178,926 J1172 connectors compared to 15,529 Tesla destination connectors, according to recent Plugshare data (includes public and restricted use).

At a minimum, the Tesla proposal will have the hurdle of passing through an established standardization process via standards bodies, such as ISO, IEC, and/or SAE. It is also important to acknowledge the challenges of creating new standards or changing the existing standards, such as:

  • Market disruption: Creating a standards proposal will disrupt the EV industry by causing companies to divert energy and resources towards integrating and implementing another standard into vehicles and chargers, which typically have a product develop cycle of 3-6 years.
  • Policy and regulatory disruption: Creating an additional standard proposal will likely disrupt existing regulatory and policy discussions and delay important EV charging infrastructure decisions and investment at local, state, and federal levels. Decisionmakers should not divert EV charging infrastructure funding for non-industry standard charging systems.
  • The pathway to standardization: CharIN supports a rigorous peer review process applied to the development of standards, such as ISO, IEC, and SAE. The current CCS standard, including connectors and related communications protocols, is a true international standard that has gone through the standardization process described above.  Any newly introduced idea, including a mechanical improvement to the existing CCS connector design, would have to follow the same process before the industry can safely adopt it. There is a significant chance that what is ultimately approved in the standards development process may not align with what is currently proposed by Tesla.

We strongly encourage Tesla, as a CharIN member, to work with CharIN’s membership base, the standards organizations, and others to accelerate the adoption of a fully interoperable EV charging solution to transition to electric vehicles more quickly. Ecosystem-driven collaboration is a proven method to create true standards accepted and adopted by a multitude of stakeholders, as well as a testing and conformance infrastructure to guarantee interoperability in the field. This is how CharIN, an inclusive, industrywide coalition representing nearly 300 leading e-mobility stakeholders, seeks to accelerate the e-mobility market in North America.

An EV owner and influencer, Branden Flasch, added some commentary on that press release to critique it a little bit:

So, what do you think — does Tesla have a chance of getting NACS certified as a public charging standard?

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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