Back in October of 2021, I wrote an article titled “An Inflection Point.” The article pointed out that electric vehicles were going mainstream. Were I to write that article today, I’d change that to “electric vehicles have gone mainstream.”
There are quite a few EV models on the road today, with more showing up every time you look around. There are a number of new models that will be available to purchase before the end of the year. Carolyn spotted a Polestar during our trip to Indialantic and back recently. I pointed out an electric Amazon delivery truck as we got close to US 19 on our way home.
Probably the biggest harbinger of things to come is watching one auto manufacturer after another adopt the NACS charging standard. Late last year, Tesla announced that they were going to open up their Supercharger network and their proprietary plug for any company who wanted to use them. In doing so, they renamed the Tesla connector the North American Charging Standard, or NACS. Ford and GM jumped onboard last month and several other auto companies and charging equipment companies have now followed suit.
First, a little background is in order. I’ll offer my apologies in advance if this gets a tad geeky. Modern electric vehicles use one of three standards for direct current (DC) fast charging and a fourth one for charging at home or at alternating current (AC) stations using 120 or 240 volt service.
Nissan was first out of the gate with the Nissan Leaf. It uses a CHAdeMO (An abbreviation for “CHAde MOve” or “charge for moving” and is a pun for “O cha demo ikaga desuka,” which translates from Japanese as “Let’s have a cup of tea while charging.” At least, that is what the CHAdeMO organization says on their website.) CHAdeMO is still quite popular in Japan. AC charging requires a different connector, called an SAE J1772, so the Nissan Leaf has both sockets in it’s charge port assembly. CHAdeMO is being abandoned in North America. Even Nissan is abandoning it. Their new Ariya uses a CCS1 connector.
Tesla came out with their own proprietary connector, which can handle both DC and AC charging. It does not use the J1772 plug, but the cars come with an adapter to allow a J1772 cord to be plugged into a Tesla.
Everyone else adopted the CCS1 standard, which builds on the J1772 connector by adding connectors for DC current. For everyday use, you plug in the J1772 part and for DC fast charging, you open a flap so you can plug in the J1772 and the DC connectors at the same time. Europe uses a variation of the CCS standard called CCS2, which provides for using three phase power.
If all this sounds like the VHS and Betamax format war of the 1980’s, you have the general idea. So is one better than the others? Keep in mind that the better format lost the videotape war.
I’ve used all four connectors to charge the two EVs I’ve owned. It is my opinion that the NACS plug is clearly superior, on both a physical and software basis. The Tesla Supercharger network is also extremely reliable.
If the charging standard war can be compared to the Betamax / VHS war in the 80’s, I’d submit that this time, Betamax won.
By early next year, electric vehicles built by Ford and GM will customers will have full access to the Tesla Supercharger network. Between Tesla, Ford, and GM, we are talking about over 80 percent of the EVs on the road in the US.
The adoption of NACS as the standard in North America and new fast charging stations popping up all over the country eliminates the biggest concern about EVs, which is where can you charge them when you are on a trip.
It is nice to see a single charging standard emerging. People shopping for an EV can now pick their favorite new EV without worrying about what plug it comes with.
I’ll be happy to chat with you if you find yourself looking at electric options for your next car.