Many automakers join NACS, Musk is likely to dominate the North American charging market

Automakers join NACS, Musk may dominate North American charging market

【PhoneAuto】In recent years, electric vehicles have become a new growth point in the global automotive market, with new energy vehicle companies such as Tesla and BYD beginning to emerge in the automotive market. However, for consumers, there have always been two main pain points that have plagued their choice of new energy vehicles, especially pure electric models. One is the safety of the vehicle, and the other is the issue of energy supplementation. If the former is still only a probability issue, the latter is a challenge that every electric vehicle owner must face.

The convenience of energy supplementation for pure electric vehicles is mainly judged from two aspects. One is whether there are enough charging stations, and the other is whether the charging time is short enough. Currently, the best at achieving both is Tesla, which has its own charging network. After the “widely planting trees” period, Tesla is now starting to enjoy the fruits provided by these trees.

Tesla Supercharger

In a recent news story about electric vehicles, the term “NACS” appeared frequently. This set of charging standards developed by Tesla may gradually unify the entire American electric vehicle market.

On May 25th, local time in the United States, Ford CEO Jim Farley announced during a Twitter live event with Tesla CEO Musk that the company has reached a cooperation agreement with Tesla. Starting next year, Ford’s electric vehicle users can use Tesla’s 12,000 supercharging stations in the United States and Canada without obstruction, and obtain unprecedented fast charging services. Ford has also become the first traditional automaker to fully access the Tesla charging network.

Once Ford’s move was announced, it caused great attention in the market. Soon after, another major American automotive giant, General Motors, announced that it would follow in Ford’s footsteps, adopt the Tesla North American charging plug standard (NACS), and allow buyers of General Motors electric vehicles to use the Tesla Supercharger network. At this point, the top three new energy vehicle companies in the North American market have joined this alliance, and their share of the electric vehicle market in the United States has reached 70%.

General Motors (GM) and Tesla reach a cooperation agreement. After the two giants announced their participation, other car companies and charging companies also responded. Companies such as ChargePoint Holdings Inc, which operates electric vehicle (EV) charging station networks in North America and Europe, and Blink Charging Co, which operates EV charging stations in the United States, have announced that they will provide NACS connector options for their charging products. On the same day, four companies chose to join Tesla’s charging network.

After this, more car companies began to waver. According to reports, Mercedes-Benz, STELLANTIS, and Hyundai and Rivian, who recently made a statement, have announced that they are considering or have decided to join Tesla’s NACS network. With more and more large car companies making choices, Tesla is likely to unify the charging standards for electric vehicles in the United States in the future.

NACS stands for North American Charging Standard, which was originally Tesla’s exclusive TPC charging specification. Tesla renamed it on November 11, 2022, and announced the opening of its charging interface standards on its official website. At the same time, it released technical specifications, attachments (AC and DC charging shared Pin angles), AC and DC charging interface datasheets, and CAD data of charging interfaces to the public.

In addition to NACS, another major standard in the North American market is CCS (Combined Charging System). In terms of scale, CCS has been certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and covers most mainstream car companies in the world, and is also supported domestically. However, in the North American electric vehicle market, due to Tesla’s dominant leadership position, the number of vehicles using NACS standards is much higher than those using CCS. Therefore, it is not impossible for Tesla to replace CCS with NACS as the new national standard.

Different types of charging standards (image source: Zhihu)

The predecessor of NACS, Tesla charging connector, has been in use for over ten years since 2012, with a total of 20 billion kilometers of electric vehicle charging mileage. It is one of the most mature charging technologies in North America. The charger provides both AC charging and up to 1 megawatt DC charging in a small package. It has no moving parts, is half the size of the CCS combination charging system connector, and has twice the charging power. It is also one of the fastest electric vehicle chargers in the world, providing up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes.

Many car companies that have announced their joining of the NACS alliance consider Tesla to be their number one competitor in the field of new energy. But the reason they can put aside competition and become partners is simply to save money.

Perhaps because domestic automakers such as NIO and Xiaopeng have chosen to build their own charging stations (battery swapping stations), people mistakenly believe that new car makers will all build their own charging networks. However, the fact is that most car companies have not done so, and have instead entrusted this part of the work to third-party charging companies. The reason is simple: building their own charging networks is just too expensive.

NIO’s self-built battery swapping station

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, stated that choosing to join Tesla’s Supercharger network could save the group $400 million in costs. The construction cost of the current popular 800V charging station is even more frightening than that of a regular charging station. This figure is a considerable burden for old-school companies like General Motors and Ford, not to mention those small new players. As long as they join Tesla’s Supercharger network, they can save this expense. Why not do it?

Tesla Supercharging

Aside from saving the cost of building charging stations, joining NACS can also enhance the competitiveness of other vehicles. Tesla has the largest high-speed supercharging network in the United States, with 17,711 supercharging stations, accounting for about 60% of the total number of fast charging piles in the United States. Once other automakers choose to join this network, it will make it more convenient for the owners of their new energy vehicles to charge in the future. In addition to the large number of charging stations, its charging power is also greater than that of ordinary charging piles, which means that the charging time will be further shortened.

More automakers choosing to join Tesla’s NACS alliance is a double-edged sword for Tesla. On the one hand, the joining of many automakers can bring more charging vehicles, which can greatly improve the utilization rate of Tesla’s charging piles and reduce the average maintenance cost of related equipment. Moreover, the use of more vehicles can also bring more charging revenue to Tesla, which can play a good role in supplementing the company’s revenue.

Tesla’s opening of the fast charging network also brings Musk one step closer to realizing his dream of turning Tesla into an energy company. In fact, selling electric cars was only part of Tesla’s business when it was founded. Musk’s real goal was to turn Tesla into the world’s leading energy company. In addition to buying cars, Tesla also provides solar power generation, energy storage and other businesses. From the perspective of the industrial chain, Musk hopes that Tesla will become a full-chain company that collects, stores, and uses clean energy. Perhaps Musk hopes to turn Tesla into the “Saudi Aramco” of the new energy world. Opening up charging services to other automakers will also be an important step in its transformation into an energy company.

Tesla Energy Storage Power Plant

Although Musk has opened up Tesla charging for his own benefit, for many Tesla owners, they may face a new problem, which is that the use of charging stations may be more troublesome than before. Before opening up, Tesla charging stations only needed to serve their own users, and may only need to queue for charging during the peak periods of some users. However, after opening up to other brands, the total number of charging vehicles will inevitably increase, which will also make Tesla owners who may not have needed to queue before to spend more time queuing. I wonder if this will reduce the desire of potential owners to buy Tesla cars.

At least for now, more and more car companies choosing Tesla’s North American charging standard is a win-win situation for both parties. Other car companies have new charging options and can also save the cost of building charging stations, while Tesla can have a higher say in the formulation of charging standards, and also takes a big step towards the development of energy companies. After gaining support from more and more car companies, Tesla’s “North American charging standard” naming may become a reality.

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