Reading into the Fast Charger Partnerships Between Tesla, GM and Ford

It’s been over a decade since direct current (DC) electric vehicle fast-charger ports started showing up at public charging stations, and it’s now taking another pivotal turn. With CHAdeMO and the Combined Charging System (CCS1), at different times it had seemed that one of them would likely become the universal, open-source fast-charging platform. Now it looks like Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) will take that position — or at least the leader, with adapters that can make room for the other two platforms.

In an agreement very close to the recent deal set with Ford, General Motors and Tesla announced during a Twitter event last week that Tesla’s Supercharger network will be open to GM electric vehicle drivers starting next year. That will at first require an NACS to CCS1 adapter. In 2025, GM will adopt Tesla’s connector design into its EVs, and the adapter won’t be needed. GM EV drivers will also have the Supercharger network placed into their dashboard and mobile apps so that they can locate, pay for, and access charging at available Supercharger ports.

By reading over EV-focused news sources and social media, you’ll find debate on the subject — with a lot of concern expressed over whether the Tesla agreements with GM and Ford is the best way to go. Most of it supports the alliances, but not all of them do, including CharIN, the largest global association focused on the electrification of all forms of transportation enabled by CCS and the Megawatt Charging System (MCS).

However, the association released a second statement today supporting standardization of Tesla’s NACS…….

“CharIN is pleased that NACS is using DIN 70121 and ISO 15118 protocols based on power line communication (PLC) enabling CCS functionality. These protocols were created for CCS but are versatile communication standards that could help build bridges across all charging standards in North America. These standards are also deeply rooted in CharIN membership and activities. Like the process for the Megawatt Charging System, CharIN will work to convene an open task force to align requirements with the goal of submitting NACS to the standardization process. An open standardization process ensures proper peer review of the technology and the ability of all interested parties to contribute to the development of this standard.”

CHAdeMo was at first adopted by Japanese automakers as the standard, until the the Combined Charging System (CCS), which was a DC fast charging protocol certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), was introduced in 2011 and adopted by seven US and European automakers as the standard. CHAdeMO and CCS could both be accessed at the same charging stations, while Tesla’s Supercharger networks at first stayed on their own proprietary stations. Tesla more recently developed an adapter called the “Magic Dock,” which incorporates the popular CCS charging standard into the existing Tesla plug.

At this time, the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are the only vehicles still using CHAdeMo for fast charging, with CCS having become the norm for non-Tesla EVs. In November, Tesla announced it would open up its proprietary network for non-Tesla EVs, assuming it would spread to become the North American charging standard for AC and DC charging. That standard, NACS, has not been officially endorsed by SAE or any other entities. It looks like its called the North American Charging Standard because Tesla deemed it be so.

Superchargers have a connector to supply electrical power at maximums of 72 kW, 150 kW or 250 kW. Tesla’s V4 Supercharging station is capable of providing up to 350 kW of power starting next year. The first V4 Supercharging station is located in the Netherlands; it was launched in March and was opened up to non-Tesla electric vehicles in April. V4 will eventually spread around the world to Supercharger stations. CCS does already have a maximum power delivery of 350 kW.

Tesla, GM and Ford together have about 70% of current U.S. EV sales. Tesla Superchargers account for a little bit more than 60% of the total fast chargers in the US and Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Dept. of Energy reports that there are 34,184 DC fast charger ports in the U.S. at 8,965 locations, as of June 9, 2023. Of these, 9,118 are CHAdeMO, 12,798 are CCS
and 21,217 are Tesla ports, which also includes some Level 2 ports. However, in January, S&P Global Mobility estimated that there are presently around 16,822 Tesla Superchargers and Tesla destination chargers in the US.

The White House recently announced that EV charging stations using Tesla standard plugs would be eligible to tap into the pool of $7.5 billion in federal funding as long as they included the U.S. charging standard connection, CCS, as well.

Another interesting point about these recent forged agreements — there’s one more EV maker that endorses NACS. Aptera, a maker of three-wheeled solar electric cars that’s in the process of gaining funding for production, has been an advocate of making NACS the new standard. Last year, Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony, co-CEOs of Aptera, started a Change.org petition to ask Congress to require by law that Tesla’s connector and chargers become the standard for new EVs in the US. The petition received over 42,000 signatures, the company said.

And in other news………..

ICCT names EV leaders and laggards: A new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) evaluated how well the world’s 20 largest auto manufacturers are transitioning to zero emission vehicles. A set of measures were used to make the assessment: technology performance and strategic vision for future decarbonization. Six markets were included in the study: China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, and the US. Tesla took the lead followed by a company that’s catching up, BYD. BYD and Volkswagen did well. six automakers are lagging behind their competitors out of the list of 20. Of those, five are headquartered in Japan.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has signed a number of new deals with several well-known consumer brands and some of the nation’s largest and most environmentally-conscious transit agencies who are using renewable natural gas (RNG) to power fleet vehicles. Liberty Coca-Cola, one of the country’s largest bottlers and distributors of Coke and other brands and serving the Northeast U.S., will power trucks in New York and Philadelphia with RNG. Electrolux North America, a leading global home appliance company, has signed a fueling agreement with Clean Energy for an estimated 200,000 gallons of RNG to be used by new trucks from a contracted carrier that will fuel at Clean Energy’s station in Ontario, Calif. Several other RNG contracts have been signed including with Recology, a waste management company, and the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, Calif.

Mitsubishi’s Outlander Plug-in Hybrid seven-passenger flagship plug-in hybrid electric SUV earned high marks in IIHS safety testing. Priced from $39,9951, Outlander Plug-in Hybrid offers up to 420 miles of total range and 38 miles of all-electric range. The Outlander has been named a Top Safety Pick by IIHS. The award applies to vehicles built after May 2023.

Self-driving Uber rides: For those interested in getting an Uber ride in an autonomous vehicle while in Phoenix, there is good news. Beginning later this year, visitors will be able to hail Waymo taxis through Uber. This comes from a new “multi-year” partnership between the two companies. Waymo also separately announced that it’s doubled its Phoenix service area to 180 square miles.

GNA acquisition: California-based consulting firm, Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), has been acquired by major consulting and engineering firm TRC. GNA’s business model as a leading consulting firm in advanced, clean transportation, fuels, and technologies, and its industry conferences, will stay in place with support coming from TRC’s team of more than 7,000 employees. TRC provides environmental, consultative, engineering and applied technology experience to clients in power and utilities, transportation, real estate, water, and government. The entire GNA team, including its eight partners – Erik Neandross, Sean Turner, Karen Mann, Patrick Couch, Tony Quist, Sarah Gallagher, Joe Annotti, and JoAnne Golden – will remain at the company to lead its continued growth.

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