Arizona’s EV Plan Gives Us A Clue About Tesla CCS Charging

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Last year, I shared details that came out of an online Arizona DOT meeting about its plan for federal Infrastructure Bill funds, also known as funding from the NEVI program. Since then, the state has narrowed down its choices for EV charging sites to meet federal requirements, and it reveals something interesting that’s probably happening behind the scenes with Tesla, confirming plans to deploy CCS-compatible charging stations in the state.

Some Background

2021’s Infrastructure Bill provided billions of dollars to expand EV charging in the United States. The first round of funding is supposed to focus on Interstate highways, and states were required to submit plans for their state’s share of the funding. The plans for these first highways had to meet the following criteria:

  • Gaps of no more than 50 miles between chargers.
  • Chargers within a mile of the interstate.
  • At least four 150 kW or higher-rate chargers, with CCS connectors.
  • Ability to simultaneously charge four vehicles at that rate or greater.
  • Exceptions are available for any of these on a case-by-case basis (unavailability of electricity, etc.), but funding can be used to prepare a site for stations by adding power-generating capability, etc.

So, Arizona sought a lot of public input, did some studies, and produced a plan. Its plan was among the first approved by the federal government.

One interesting question asked last year at the online meeting was which stations will require new construction and which ones need upgrading in order for them to meet the above federal requirements. To ensure that various plans can be implemented when it comes time to obtain permits, draw up blueprints, and begin building with contractors, ADOT said its final plan must remain open-ended enough so as not to limit itself or potential third parties.

But, the public didn’t let ADOT off with that answer. Another person asked very specifically about Tesla’s possible role in Arizona’s NEVI plan. ADOT said that it had already reached out to Tesla and asked the company about upgrading Tesla stations to have some CCS plugs to meet the plan’s requirements (obviously, in exchange for some of those federal funds). According to ADOT, Tesla’s representative indicated that they were definitely open to the idea of working with ADOT to put in some CCS stations at Supercharger sites, but Tesla was still looking into it to make sure it would work for them, both physically and legally.

New Maps Show Us That These Talks Must’ve Gone Somewhere

Looking at the latest versions of the Arizona charging plan maps shows us that using Tesla’s Superchargers must be part of the plan. Let’s take a look at the sites they’ve chosen and I’ll explain how I arrived at this conclusion.

Image by Arizona DOT.

Let’s start by looking at Willcox, Arizona. It’s listed as a potential site that requires upgrading instead of new construction. But what happens when we look for CCS sites that can be upgraded in the area?

In Willcox, the number of not only CCS sites, but even J1772 sites is, as Agent K in Men in Black would say, “precisely d*ck”. It’s a charging wasteland if you’re rolling up in, say, a Nissan LEAF or Chevy Bolt with a low battery. In fact, the only way you can get a charge with a CCS or CHAdeMO car in the city is to head to an RV park and BYOEVSE (Bring Your Own EVSE).

I know this from experience.

Charging an EV at Fort Willcox RV Park. Image by Jennifer Sensiba.

However, the Tesla drivers who’ve been through Willcox and are reading this are probably just itching to jump into that comment box and tell us all about how much easier it is to drive on that stretch of I-10, and how stupid I was to buy a LEAF. After all, there’s a Tesla Supercharger right next to the TA truck stop at one of the hotels!

Yeah, the LEAF was a somewhat stupid purchase (and it’s a car I no longer own), but this was before the Model 3 came out, and it was what I could afford at the time, but that’s not really the point. The point is that the only EV charging station in Willcox is a Tesla Supercharger, and if Arizona is going to upgrade anything, that’s the one they’re going to upgrade.

I won’t bore you with all of the boring details about my charging stops at RV parks in places like Cordes Junction and Holbrook. I stayed the night at a hotel in Cordes just to get charged up, and I slept in an Arizona state park in Holbrook once. You can read about that particularly dumb journey here.

Once again, the point to take from this is that those places appear on the map as places where they want to add CCS ports to an existing station, and there’s literally nothing else there for Arizona to upgrade, so they must be talking about adding CCS charging to the only girl in town: Tesla’s Supercharger station.

If you look on PlugShare, this happens yet again in Gila Bend and Tacna along I-8 if you’re headed out to San Diego. I haven’t slept in a car in either of those places, but I think I’ll go ahead and trust PlugShare on this. Plus, my Bolt EUV would make that trip, so there’s no need.

So, bottom line: nearly all of the places ADOT wants to add CCS ports are Tesla Supercharger stations. And, if you’ve been following the Tesla CCS story, there are some very, very good reasons to do this.

Tesla’s Got A Cheap Way To Add CCS Charging

If you’ve been following Tesla’s coming opening of its network to CCS cars, you might have seen this little bit of news from a few days ago:

The Magic Dock is going to integrate CCS charging into Tesla Superchargers without getting rid of the Tesla (or “NACS” if you’re a fanboy and want to call it that) plug like they did in Europe. If you need the Tesla plug, you pull out the Tesla plug just like you always have. If you’ve got a CCS car at one of these upcoming stations, you pull out the larger part of the Magic Dock and it gives you a CCS adapter on the end of the cable.

This appears to be an image that Tesla didn’t intend to release yet, but it shows just how cheaply the change could be made. This not only makes it possible for Tesla to make it cheaper for states to use their stations to meet NEVI requirements (and save that money for stations on rural highways), but it also means Tesla should turn a healthy profit from whatever arrangements it makes with state governments to offer this.

So, my educated guess is that Tesla will roll out CCS charging spots at Supercharger sites as it gets state governments to pay something for them. This means that Tesla will get a cut of the Infrastructure Bill funds, and hopefully fund further rollout of the Supercharger network as states move onto covering other highways with subsequent funding rounds.

Featured image by Arizona DOT.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba