Everybody knows that the public fast-charging life is just easier when you're a Tesla owner. But starting today, Ford F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E owners will begin to play on their level too as the Tesla Supercharger network opens up to them. 

Ford today announced two major developments on the electric front. First, Ford customers can now order the Fast Charging Adapter—the first from a major automaker—that allows Tesla North American Charging Standard (NACS) plugs to link up to the Combined Charging System (CCS) fast-charging port standard on basically all non-Tesla EVs. 

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For years, Tesla's proprietary charging network was considered the best—but it was open only to Teslas. Now the rest of the car industry is switching to Tesla's smaller and sleeker plug, and finding ways to grant access to Tesla's stellar charging network. In other words, the charging experience enjoyed by Tesla owners will soon be more open to all kinds of EVs. 

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Second, both Ford's EVs and the Tesla Supercharger network are receiving over-the-air updates that will enable Ford vehicles to charge at those stations, just like any Tesla can. That adds another 15,000 DC fast chargers for Ford owners as soon as they get their adapters in the mail.

In other words, today marks the beginning of the era where Tesla's Superchargers, which are widely regarded as the most extensive and most reliable public charging network in North America, start to open up to drivers of all kinds of EVs. Soon, other automakers will follow Ford's lead in allowing Tesla charging access via an adapter, and in the years to come nearly all of them will use Tesla's NACS plug format from the factory. 

More than 80% of Ford EV owners charge at home, said Ken Williams, Ford's Director of Charging and Energy Services. "Their main pain point is public charging," he said.

Today, that starts to get a lot less painful. 

How It Works

Robert Hayes, Ford's Manager of Public Charging Customer Experience, said that owners can now log into their FordPass account, go to the Connected Service Home Page, click the offer for the free charger, and then receive it in the mail free of charge. They can also do so on Ford's website

The charger is free until June 30. Starting July 1, it's going to cost $230, which includes taxes and shipping. The adapters are expected to start shipping over the coming weeks. 

Ford officials said that the adapter does not have any communication protocols, so in theory, it should work with any EV. But since those EVs may not yet be authenticated to work with Tesla's network, don't expect them to actually charge. Officials added that the adapter is not expected to impact charging speeds or performance. (Neither Ford nor Tesla recommend the use of any third-party adapters, which are increasingly hitting the market but may present safety concerns.) 

Thanks to the over-the-air updates, Ford EV owners with the adapter will be able to plug in and charge automatically, without using a credit card onsite; the same convenience Tesla owners enjoy. "Once owners have created an account and activated Plug & Charge, Tesla Superchargers will support Plug & Charge with Ford EVs," Ford officials said. "This means customers simply have to plug in and charging will automatically start with charges managed through FordPass."


The native Tesla app is also not needed for the experience. The FordPass app is recommended instead to find compatible chargers and determine charging prices, Hayes said. The Tesla Supercharger system is now the 11th on Ford's Blue Oval Network, which lets Ford owners charge and pay natively without using multiple apps, memberships or on-site payment methods.

Owners of the Ford E-Transit van may have to wait a bit longer because that vehicle will have to be updated at dealerships later to use the plug-and-charge feature.

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The other upside to this move is that later this spring, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will offer native route planning to Tesla Supercharger stations from their navigation apps. Ford has been ramping up those features within the popular smartphone projection systems for a while, allowing their navigation systems to tell drivers how much range they'll have at their destination or where to divert and charge if that's necessary; now Tesla's Superchargers will get in on the fun. (And remember, charging route planning is one big reason crosstown rival General Motors cited for dumping Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on its EVs, so this move says a lot.)

Ford stressed that Tesla sets the prices for charging, so it's not immediately clear whether Ford owners will have to pay more for electricity. (Normally, this is where we'd ask Tesla for comment, but the automaker no longer speaks with the press in North America.) Ford officials speculated that charging prices could be similar to what Magic Dock users enjoy, but this is unconfirmed for now.

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Ford also added that all of the older V2 Superchargers, which were limited to 150kW charging speeds, are not compatible with this process. But since the faster V3 Superchargers have been around since 2019 and the improved V4 Superchargers began rolling out last year, it may not be too much of an inconvenience. 

Finally, Ford confirmed that the adapters are for DC fast-charging only; they do not work with Tesla's NACS-equipped slower destination chargers, which run on AC power. 

InsideEVs will know exactly how the Ford Fast Charging Adapter performs in real-world situations when we do a charging test with one in the coming days; stay tuned for that. 

The NACS Era Begins Today

Besides delivering a crushing blow to range anxiety for Ford EV owners, these announcements ostensibly begin the era when Tesla's plug—now called the SAE J3400 standard—starts to take over charging in North America. The slimmer, sleeker plug has many advantages over the heavy and unwieldy CCS fast-charging plug, and grants access to Tesla's vast network in the process.

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It was Ford that kicked this process off last May by announcing the forthcoming adapters, followed by a move to native NACS plugs from 2025 onward. Over the following months, nearly every other automaker announced it would follow Ford's lead here as they were reportedly fed up with the subpar experiences offered by other charging networks

So far, charging access—specifically, public fast charging—has proved to be a major barrier to wider EV adoption. While most owners charge at home, they do need fast charging for road trips or when they don't have their own garage. Automakers expected charging networks to just kind of pop up on their own as gas stations did; clearly, that ended up not being the case. Many of them are now finding ways to build their own networks instead

Opening up Tesla's charging network should help fix some of those challenges, given how ubiquitous, reliable and seamless the experience is. (It also stands to provide Tesla with a massive new revenue source, potentially up to $20 billion by 2030.) 

The move won't be some magic bullet for Ford EV owners, however. For one, it's going to take time to see if the cars and the chargers have any software compatibility issues. Lines at Tesla Supercharger stations are probably due to get longer as more EVs can juice up there, although new ones are being added all of the time

But with any luck, this marks a new era for the standardization and maturity of the North American EV charging experience. That will be even more apparent once the cars use the Tesla plug format from the factory as well. For now, Ford's EV owners can count on fewer headaches when they're on the road. 

Contact the author: patrick.george@insideevs.com

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