An Unexpected Upset In EV Charging Standards

Last November, Tesla open-sourced parts of its charging infrastructure, not-so-humbly unveiling it as the North American Charging Standard (NACS). It’s finally taking off with a number of manufacturers signing on.

Companies launching “standards” based on their previously proprietary technology in opposition to an established alternative usually leads to standards proliferation. However, with recent announcements from Ford, GM, and Rivian that they would begin supporting NACS in their vehicles, it seems a new dominant standard is supplanting CCS (and the all-but-dead CHAdeMO) in North America.

As Tesla already has the most extensive charging network on the continent and has begun opening it up for other EVs, it makes sense that other marques would want to support NACS, if nothing else to satiate customer demand for a dead-simple charging experience. Dongles are annoying enough for plugging in an external monitor. Having to mess with one while handling high-power electrical connections is less than ideal, to say the least.

If you want to add NACS to your own EV project, the standard is here. We’ve discussed some of the different standards before as well as work toward wirelessly charging EVs (besides the inductive charger on the EV1). It certainly seems like the time to get in on the ground floor of an EV charging empire with an army of Charglas.

52 thoughts on “An Unexpected Upset In EV Charging Standards

  1. Since it’s been brewing for months an involves wide collaboration and apparently no proprietary lock in, I am failing so see why it’s either unexpected or an upset.

    1. > no proprietary lock in

      Yet. Nothing says Tesla can’t put special features in later that only work with their cars. By that time, the alternatives are as good as dead, so nobody else has the same.

      1. Except that would only be for additional features over-and-above the actual EV-charging functionality, and since the connector standard is open and the charging standard it relies on was already open, any Tesla-only new features could be replicated in an open manner. e.g. if Tesla creates a new proprietary hot-fresh-tea-over-connector service, there would be nothing to stop ISO-123456789 Hot Beverages Over NACS also being implemented by others, and you’d be merely faced with the decision of whether you’re thirsty whilst your car charges regardless of charger availability.

      1. Indeed, it’s CCS2 that improves that aspect of it. As well as offering 800V, 350kW+ charging.

        Tesla claims to have 1000V charging, but have no rolled it out publicly. Maybe that’s why Cybertruck is so delayed. One of the reasons.

        I doubt that the Tesla connector can handle the kinds of charging rates that CCS2 can. The contacts are too small and the connector housing would need to be enlarged to accommodate water cooling for the cables.

        Europe has had 350kW, 800V CCS2 deployed for some years now and it’s great.

        1. You might be surprised how well even a modest gauge wire can handle HVDC current.

          In the (rather light) NACS standard paper under section 6.2 Current Rating, there’s a side note that states:
          “Tesla has successfully operated the North American Charging Standard above
          900A continuously with a non-liquid cooled vehicle inlet.”

          With no skin effect and low parasitic losses, DC transmission can break your intuition of what’s required. That’s why Europe has been building out an HVDC super grid for decades. AC allows utilities to easily step voltages up for transmission, then back down for utilization using simple transformer equipment, but in some cases; it’s not worth the skin-effect and parasitic losses.

          1. Ha!
            Yeah – that’s… Not likely to happen.
            Hydrogen isn’t a solution – it’s a mess.

            Hydrogen cars are evs with fuel cells that convert hydrogen to electricity. They’re an inefficient intermediary step with losses in creation and conversion back to electricity.

            With solid state (and other promising) battery tech coming out bringing charging time down to 6-10 minutes for hundreds of miles of charging – time to charge is no longer going to be an issue.

            Battery swaps are winning tech in China – so a 3 minute swap (where you don’t get out of the vehicle – at a 3rd generation battery swap station) is REALITY already.

            Hydrogen is a step backwards from electric – that appeals to the “I need to pump liquid fuel into my vehicle” crowd that hates change. It isn’t the future.

        1. Obviously bad from a waste of electricity point of view, but even imagine the heat dissipation from 10s of percent of wasted energy on a 100kw+ charger. Massive!

          I imagine EM noise might be an issue too?

          1. A typical Level 2 home charger operates in the range of about 83-94% efficiency grid-to-battery depending on which one you buy. Witricity’s wireless charging operates within a narrow band of efficiency (88-93%) that is equivalent to Level 2 plug-in charging, plus you get the added efficiency of not having to spend time plugging and unplugging the vehicle.

          2. This is more a comment about Joe Reals contribution. .. He states , and I don’t have evidence to disagree with him of an efficiency of 88% with the Witicity resonance magnetic coupling and comparable values with a direct AC to EV charging system my case an Energi 7.2KW cable connection. Since the Energi is a direct set of contactors to my mains , it’s efficiency will be 99.5%.. with only. a few watts going to the communication electronics .Any inefficiencies will be in the invertor rectification control system in my VW..which is why it Max’s out at 22KW AC charging ,even at a high power AC station ..and I fully expect that this power electronics module would have an efficiency of at best 90%.
            However I suspect that in his enthusiasm, Joe has omitted the system losses in the Witicity ..
            Grid to EV battery .. Eg .. 90% Grid to Witicity DC, 88% transmission ,90% Witicity to DC reconversion and possibly 90% DC to AC and then AC to Battery DC. .. or overall 65%.

        2. That doesn’t mean it’s a gimmick. My phone charges perfectly fine with wireless charging, which I do every night. I never use the cable. My phone stays cool, that means my battery lasts a lot longer, my USB port doesn’t go bad, which all results in me keeping my phone for a long long time, instead of replacing my phone very quickly. Sure, uses a tiny bit more energy, but the result is less e-waste. I’ve had this phone for 2 years and the battery is still in perfect condition, the USB is still unused so it should work perfectly. I hope to keep this phone for a few more years and unless I do something really stupid, I should be able to do so. Besides, my house produces about double the energy that I use, so why not?

          1. So why not is simple, read the messages above. Your phone is a toy in comparison to a car. My phone has 5000mAh which equals about 18.5wh. My car has by comparison 91,000wh. So do the math, it’s 4,918 times the energy.

            Some day, maybe if there is some crazy new technology that wouldn’t kill anyone near the wireless charger, or be so slow that nobody would ever adopt it. But today it’s so impractical talking about it is just silly.

          2. You can get the efficiency up by minimizing leakage, and you do that by getting the primary coil as close to the secondary coil as you can. Various tinkerers have come up with gadgets that do that mechanically. But that’s not so good for fast charging at a bus stop or continuous operation on a “magnetic road”.

          3. Top tip: if you use wired charging overnight, use an old USB 5V/1A wall wart adapter and a micro USB->USBC adapter.

            The phone will charge much slower and the battery will thank you.

      1. Um, you’re right, and it won’t ever make more sense to charge your car via wireless over wired, EVER.
        So Greg, I agree with you, let’s stop going down a silly rabbit hole!

    1. I just want to point out that not all induction is “wireless” charging.
      I know that most people think of it that way, cut and dry, YOUR TRYING TO BEAM ELECTRICITY! And yes it would be awesome if there were some HAD way to TESLA COIL charge your TESLA. It would most certainly be incredibly inefficient.

      The induction charging paddle used in the GM EV1 was a captive coil inserted into a keyed slot port of a wall mounted charging system. When in place the system essentially became an air gap isolation transformer between the vehicle and the charger.
      There were no electrical contacts to touch or corrode on either the charger or the cord/paddle. So from an overall design and safety perspective it was a good system.

      Now 26kwh in an 8hr charge is no L3 supercharger but its a respectable rate of charge for a turn of the century vehicle. Id rather an induction paddle than a teslaplug, even if I need 2 or 3 or 4…maybe 3d print a multipaddle plug. I agree that a giant coil in the slab of the garage probably isnt a great plan though.

  2. Hopefully this doesn’t lead to lots of (otherwise ok) older EV’s obsolete. My 2020 EV (Renault Zoe 52kw) only has up to 27kw A/C charging (the car was new in 2020 and CCS was an optional extra, not chosen by the previous owner); where I am in the UK lots of new chargers have been installed in the last year or so at service stations but many are D/C fast chargers only so I’m left hunting down fast (20+kw A/C rather than slow 3kw or 7kw) chargers along any long-distance routes I go on.

    1. The only standard faced with potential obsolescence is the wonderful CHAdeMO which is not electrically compatible.
      Tesla/NACS is electrically compatible with CCS.

  3. This means little, the EU still requires CCS (2). So tesla and others will have to compy with that. So maybe at thing for the US market, but unlike americans most other citizens of this planet understand that the rest of the world is the larger market.

  4. I think the current charging paradigm is misguided. Having each “pit stop” on a road trip take 30+ minutes is a major impediment to widespread EV acceptance. The standards that should be promoted are for the battery interface – form factor, HV/high current electrical connection, and a data interface so the car and battery can adapt to one another. Service stations then become battery storehouses; you pull in, they pop your battery out, replace it with a fully charged one, and off you go. The physical interface should be simple, like sliding a tray into a rack and securing it with a bolt or clips. As long as the battery’s physical dimensions fit the standard, and the data interface is flexible enough, innovations in battery technology won’t be hindered. Service stations could be active (recharging locally) or, in more remote/rural areas with limited infrastructure, they could simply receive shipments of fully-charged batteries and send the discharged ones back on the same truck.

    Making the “refueling” process as quick and painless as possible is the key to making EVs ubiquitous. I often have to make car trips of 500+ miles, and range is the only reason I do not already own an EV. If I could “refuel” in just a few minutes as described above, I’d buy in a heartbeat – range would become irrelevant, and smaller/less expensive cars would become more attractive.

    1. Everyone would want to hold onto the batteries in good condition and swap away from the ones that are worn out. Anyway, it’s easier to sell a car where it’s hard to replace the battery but it’s got more range for the price. And while DC fast charging seems to be rough, if electric cars regularly accepted at least 12kW / 240V 50A, then they could make full use of an RV hookup in areas with no EV chargers.

      Unfortunately they’re not as aerodynamic or efficient as they could be, so even if all 12kW made it to the battery, with a current sedan you might only get perhaps 50 miles at rated speed back per hour. So it’s still much quicker on a long trip to drive slower in order to increase the range by reducing air resistance. The business has not shown if it will succeed yet, but the Aptera 2-seat hatchback EV has shown a car with much better aero can be more than twice as good as that in efficiency, a factor that applies to both the miles of total range and of range recharged per hour. In the absence of that, plug in hybrids do exist.

      1. >Everyone would want to hold onto the batteries in good condition and swap away from the ones that are worn out.

        The idea is more that you dont own YOUR battery anymore, you own whatever battery is in your vehicle today. when you pull into the station you can select a battery of higher capacity if youre going on a trip, or a lower capacity if your just staying around town. The charging company monitors battery condition, manages individual cell maintenance and even periodically updates the battery technology/material, etc

        That said, I do worry the catalytic converter thieves would quickly pivot if this tech becomes the norm in the states.

        1. No way.

          There’s a HUGE difference between yanking a 3-16 pound cat out of a car in moments, and pulling a 700+ pound battery pack down on top of you (with fasteners on the bottom.

          The battery packs are tiny bit harder to toss into your own vehicle and leave with.

          And breaking them open is a tiny life threatening high voltage accident waiting to happen.

          Ev battery theft isn’t likely to be an issue.

        2. In the occasional cases where batteries fail, people will be angry and want to pass legal blame if they got the failed battery from a swap. So pretending the exact capacity/range is whatever the monitoring says it is, and no failures can occur, you can choose to charge for the difference in capacity of two swapped batteries or to charge only for the electricity to fill them. If your swap price is fixed no matter the size of each battery, people will hunt and swap to get the best ones or at least to get rid of bad ones. Especially if they’re bad because people wore them out knowing they could swap to a fresher one. Then when someone on a roadtrip needs a bigger battery, the ones available may all be shorter range. If you do assign a price to the capacity differences, people will complain too, but it might not break the system. You might get scams if the monitoring and reporting isn’t absolutely secure.

    2. It’s all about trust… The bottled butane gas swop market works fine, because the bottle is about the same price as the gas energy stored The EV battery is about 1000 times more valuable than the energy stored in it. So there would be a thriving market in hiring batteries, ripping out the valuable cells, replacing them with scrap metal and and a fake memory chip and selling on the cells. Like Cat Convertors mark 2

  5. The American CCS (type 1) is so fucked up brain dead bad that this is maybe even an improvement.
    (America is three phase too! Type 2 is backwards compatible to single phase too.)
    And the fact that legacy users can use a cheap and passive adapter makes it less of a pain.

    It changes nothing about the crazyness that the NA and rest of the world (Except China) have different plugs.
    I would have preferred if NA had just adopted CCS type 2

  6. PS: Guys, don’t get too obsessed with the automatic cashless payment that Tesla offers. The only reason that works is because it’s a closed system.
    There is actually no benefit for the customer in that. Charge terminals just need to accept credit cards like all petrol stations do. What’s bad right now is the faffing around with phone apps and special cards and the bad cost control.

    1. Ccs also supports automatic card/appless payments…

      This isn’t unique to Tesla.

      VW supports it with 3 years of free charging in electrify America (2023 and newer evs – and I think the id4 from 2022 as well).

    2. But… That’s a false dichotomy.

      VW supports this with ccs on electrify America (with 3 years of free charging when purchasing a new ev).

      This isn’t “special” that only Tesla chargers provide. It’s built into the ccs communication standard as well (it just hasn’t been widely implemented in vehicles)

  7. Make your cars have easy to swap out batteries so I don’t sit at your stupid charging stations, seriously. What happens if a battery in the car goes dead? You need to bring it to a mechanic? Real dumb engineering they have there.

    1. This exists. Just not in the US.
      China is way ahead of everyone here…

      Subsidizing vehicles with swappable batteries, and having over a thousand battery swap stations in service already.

      It’s not new tech. It’s tried and tested. And it’s in Europe – through only about 30 battery swap stations are there so far – as well.

      Over 22 million battery swaps done by last month – averaging about 50k swaps a day. And growing.'s%201%2C400th%20battery,such%20facilities%20together%20to%20date.&text=NIO%20(NYSE%3A%20NIO)%20has,generation%20of%20the%20facility%20accelerates.

        1. What do you mean by “shut it down”?

          They stopped offering free battery swaps (like Tesla stopped offering free super charging for life) with a vehicle purchase.

          In Europe – it was about a $10 surcharge over plugging in to charge (I may have that wrong – I saw that somewhere – can’t cite or find it).

          They’re still doing – and expanding – the battery swap stations.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.