It took a couple of weeks, but we now have CharIN's response to Tesla's public release of the North American Charging Standard (NACS), previously referred to as the Tesla connector. 

In a joint statement, the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN e.V.) and the CharIN North America Chapter made it very clear that there is already a universal standard, CCS, and to move to another standard now would disrupt the industry and delay the transition to electrification.

Tesla: North American Charging Standard vs CCS Combo 1

The CharIN association was formed in 2015, with the purpose of worldwide promotion and support of the Combined Charging System (CCS). Tesla is one of the 155 "Core Members" identified on the CharIN website. However, that relationship didn't buy Musk & Co any subtlety in the association's response. 

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.  - CharIN Association

CharIN also listed some reasons to stick with the J1772 connector for AC charging and the Combined Charging System (CCS) for DC charging including:

  • CCS is already used in over 50 passenger vehicle models, while NACS is currently used in 4
  • CCS plugs already outnumber Tesla Superchargers by 61,000 to 40,000 worldwide
  • In North America, there are 18,880 CCS connectors compared to 18,405 Tesla Superchargers
  • There are 178,926 public J1172 connectors compared to 15,529 Tesla destination chargers
  • 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 have all invested in and agreed to use the CCS standard. 
Tesla: North American Charging Standard

NACS Challenges 

CharIN pointed out that NACS will still have to pass through the established standardization process via standards bodies including ISO, IEC, and/or SAE. It also pointed out that we must also acknowledge the challenges of 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 development cycle of three to six 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. 
European CCS (Type 2 / Combo 2) Conquers World - CCS Combo 1 Exclusive To North America

A Chevrolet Bolt EV using a CCS connector to DC fast charge

What's best for EV adoption in the long run?

While switching to NACS would undoubtedly cause initial problems and likely set back electrification for a couple of years, it still may be the right move. 

Anyone that has used NACS as well as J1772 and CCS extensively understands how much more user-friendly NACS is. It's smaller, lighter, easier to use, and an overall much more elegant solution. There's no need for a rocker switch tab that locks the connector to the vehicle, which is a weak point on the J1772 and CCS connectors. These tabs frequently snap off and create a charging hazard because without the tab the connector can be unplugged hot, while current is flowing through it. 

However, it's difficult to imagine any of the established brands switching to NACS. Aptera has already announced it will use NACS, but it hasn't even made a single production-intent vehicle yet and has been signaling from the start that it intended to use the NACS. 

For the established brands, I think the only way to incorporate NACS would be to add it to the vehicle as an additional charge port, instead of replacing J1772 and CCS. That way, owners would have the ability to charge anywhere, provided Tesla then allowed non-Tesla EVs with NACS to use Superchargers - something they haven't agreed to do yet.

We'll continue to monitor this topic, as it's far from settled. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Those interested in reading the full press release response from CharIN can do so directly from the CharIN website. 

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