Tesla’s Plug Moves Another Step Closer To Dominance

Charging an EV currently means making sure you find a station with the right plug. SAE International has now published what could be the end to the mishmash of standards in North America with the J3400 North American Charging Standard.

The SAE J3400TM North American Charging Standard (NACS) Electric Vehicle Coupler Technical Information Report (TIR), which just rolls off the tongue, details the standard formerly only available on Tesla vehicles. We previously talked about the avalanche of support from other automakers this year for the connector, and now that the independent SAE standard has come through, the only major holdout is Stellantis.

Among the advantages of the NACS standard over the Combined Charging System (CCS) or CHAdeMO is a smaller number of conductors given the plug’s ability to carry DC or AC over the same wires. Another benefit is the standard using 277 V which means that three separate Level 2 chargers can be placed on a single 3-phase commercial line with no additional step down required. Street parkers can also rejoice, as the standard includes provisions for lampost-based charger installations with a charge receptacle plug instead of the attached cable required by J1772 which leads to maintenance, clutter, and ADA concerns.

Now that J3400/NACS is no longer under the purview of a single company, the Federal Highway Administration has announced that it will be looking into amending the requirements for federal charger installation subsidies. Current rules require CCS plugs be part of the installation to qualify for funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

If you want to see how to spice up charging an EV at home, how about this charging robot or maybe try fast charging an e-bike from an electric car plug?

46 thoughts on “Tesla’s Plug Moves Another Step Closer To Dominance

        1. 120, 240, and 480 seems pretty logical (idk, maybe the base of 120 doesn’t make sense). And in my limited understanding, 208 and 227 are derivative of those based on how the load is connected to the 120, 240, or 480.

          1. The weirdness is that the common EV battery voltage goes to 400 Volt-ish, so all of those except the 480 Volt requires a step-up converter in the car to charge, so there’s practically no difference whether you charge from 240 or 277 V – you just get slightly different amperage.

          2. >Don’t they actually convert down to ~4v to charge the cells?

            In a sense, but not really. Cell balancing is a complicated business and if you’re doing per-cell balancing that means so much extra cost and complexity that it’s just not feasible when you’re up to 400 or even 800 Volts for the entire battery with 8,000 individual cells.

          3. I mean, think about just how much more wiring you need to address individual cells in a Tesla battery pack. You’d add so much more weight and cost in plain copper that it doesn’t make any sense. That’s why the cells are used in modules of some X cells in parallel and Y in series. Whether they stay in balance forever is down to lord’s blessing.

          4. Cell balancing is usually performed by a board that spans 4 to 8 cells. Higher than that, and you tend to run into ADC resolution vs Vdd headroom issues. And that board has to be galvanically isolated from everything else, so it’s powered by the cells it’s monitoring/balancing, but communications has to be isolated somehow.

            My first thought many years ago was to make use of pairs of optical fiber (TX and RX). Workable, but still a “wiring” headache. Alternatively, flood the interior of the battery pack case with light to form a free-space optical communications network using LEDs and optical sensors – better….

            Then one of the semiconductor manufactures suggested an RF solution, and I thought 903MHz ISM. They went in another direction – Bluetooth (but WiFi may work as well). All of these networks would be contained (or not) within the shielded battery case.

    1. 347/600V is standard in Canada. Makes for nice math too, since 100A 3 phase is about 100kVA. The shame of it is that a Tesla Charger installed in Canada has a 600V to 480V transformer placed in the middle, which adds cost, space and losses.

    1. Wasn’t that supposed to be the point of J3068 (aka CCS2 for North America)

      Allowing Single Phase 19.2 kW AC level 2 and level 2 3-Phase up to 166 kW on 600V?

      Nuvve already produces/manufacturers a 99kW 480V 3-Phase level 2 EVSE.

      This would allowed US/Canada to have the same connector as Europe/Australia/RoW (rest of world) except China (Gb/T & soon ChaoJi) and Japan (CHAdeMO/ChaoJi)

      Allowing 3 Phase charging for Medium/Heavy Duty EVs alpns with allowing Single Phase charging solutions for passenger/consumer vehicles from a single cable/interface.

      NACS does at least dwindle the different connectors down.

      Instead of CHAdeMO, J1772 CCS1, J3068 CCS2, NACS, and MCS (Megawatt)

      We will now just have NACS, J3068 CCS2, and MCS (with the latter 2 being reserved for Commerical Heavy Duty use)

      Assuming RV type vehicle that crossover Consumer/Commercial in the future may have a NACS and MCS connector to utilize EV trucking stops that have Megawatt capability.

  1. The fact that everything still is at the initial design level and keeps changing all the time – especially something as basic as the charging plug for your $60,000 car – is just another indication that EVs are a technology that is not yet mature.
    But thankyous to all the rich guinea pigs for helping us to develop and get the kinks out of them!

    1. EVs are an upper middle class pursuit. It’s gone down a bit from “Hollywood celebrity” bit, but it still assumes that you own a house and a garage, and a second car for when your EV is tethered to the wall charging and can’t go.

      People living in apartments, renting, just can’t. I could buy a Tesla right now, cash in hand – but I don’t have the money for the house and the garage. It would make absolutely no sense. I would go from a Tesla’s worth net positive to minus 200-300,000 in debt to have the sort of lifestyle required to drive a Tesla. If I did that, I would be abjectly poor – but I would look rich.

      1. So are most of the other brand new cars. Anything popular with a “good resale value” is going to be very old and crappy by the time it’s affordable and anything desirable in spite of its lower resale value is probably cheap because it has expensive problems to fix. If you find something similar to a popular fleet vehicle, maybe you’ll be lucky and get something no-one wants that’s actually in decent shape with a low total cost of ownership. Around me, a 10-15 year old toyota or a 20 year old basic sporty car can cost about the same as a 5 year old work truck that is better in many quantitative ways despite being a truck.

        1. The “average priced car” is a lie, because it’s the average of 40-60k luxury cars and SUVs, and 15-25k economy cars and hatchbacks. The actual distribution of car prices isn’t normally distributed around the mean, but has two “peaks” around those price points.

          So when electric cars reach the “average” price point, they’re still catering to a very small subset of people who aren’t interested in SUVs or the proper luxury cars like BMW or Lexus, but are still rich enough to skip the economy class and subcompact cars.

          EVs don’t compare to 10-15 year old Toyotas, because they don’t last long enough for that. A 15 year old EV is scrap, because the battery refurbishment cost is greater than the value of the car.

          1. There’s quite a large difference between a 10 year old EV with an active battery cooling system (i.e. Tesla) or one that’s passive (Leaf). The passively cooled systems will be shot, no doubt, but there are EVs out there that have only had a 10-15% capacity fade in that timeframe which is still pretty decent for an EV starting with over 200 mi of range.

            Battery replacement costs are non-trivial, but so are the costs for an engine and/or transmission replacement that relegates most ICE vehicles to the scrap heap. At least with an EV, the battery is really the only expensive consumable part (outside of a few exceptions – like the i3s expensive to repair HVAC) and maintenance is basically only tires and wipers before that.

    2. >is just another indication that EVs are a technology that is not yet mature.

      I guess laptops aren’t mature yet either since many recently switched their power cord from barrel jacks to USB-C.

      Gasoline cars were considered mature long before the switch to unleaded gasoline. So, I don’t think switching plugs makes it any less mature.

      1. Laptops came with their own model-specific chargers that all plug to the standard wall outlets regardless of what plug they use at the other end, so that’s a false comparison. Also, they had standard sized barrel jacks and a limited choice of operating voltages, so you had universal chargers with replaceable jacks that would fit a range of laptops. Having the same USB-C in all laptops is a convenience, but not critical to the function of the device, since they all come with dedicated chargers anyways.

        The case of the electric cars is different because you don’t have a “standard wall outlet” with fast chargers: it is that standard outlet shape that we’re debating about here right now. Adapters between systems are possible, but that’s like carrying your own fuel hose to the gasoline station – that’s just not how cars work.

        1. Or maybe like carrying a funnel and a rag or something to keep from dribbling gas onto the paint while you use your classic car’s awkward fill port. Or struggling with the size of a typical diesel nozzle with your small german car’s fill port maybe?

      2. Perhaps, but the unleaded gas changeover is not as good as pointing to the electronification
        /computerization cars underwent as a result of catalytic converter changeover, of which the fuel was a secondary requirement. That was for sure a technology maturation inflection point, just like hydraulic brakes and all-steel bodies once were too.

        My citing of the connector changeover was just as one example – I could also point to the still extant wide variety in battery chemistries, battery physical layouts, or the lack of any battery recycling – as indicators of technology immaturity.

        Statistically, and technologically, things revert to the mean after they’ve been around awhile, after they’ve been figured out, and EV technologies are far from being close to a mean.

    3. The combined ccs/type 2 has been the standard in Europe for all EVs, even teslas use that plug here now, which is a real benefit for home charging since most European houses have three phase.

    1. Elon musk released the patents on it years ago. Finer details not withstanding; he was trying to be cooperative at one time, but everybody pushed back and treated him like crap even then.

      He’s exactly what people made him in to.

      1. It’s not rocket science. Tesla gets money from other people charging from their network, and they have the largest one right now, but with a proprietary plug they would eventually lose customers to the non-patent encumbered common standard.

        So it’s best to go open and kill the common standard in favor of the Tesla version, so they get to keep their dominance in the charging market.

        1. In essence, Tesla having an “open standard” charger plug is kinda like Microsoft having an “open” Office document file format.

          It only exists for the point that the actually open format or standard wouldn’t gain a significant a foothold on the market.

  2. It’s good that its happening but it sucks that so many automakers won’t be shipping the adapters for their existing vehicles until 2025 or later (if Ford and GM can start shipping the adapters in early 2024, there is no excuse for anyone else to be delaying until 2025)

    1. It is same everything in different plug, adapters are easy,
      i do not understand why Tesla bots ( human and ML alike ) always come to these (any ) discussions to spread FUD.

      Tesla won war, no one needed to participate in, so you go buy some model 3 and go brake under overpass…

    2. As I’ve heard it, Tesla is trying to roll out slowly to ease in other makes to the Supercharger network. I suspect that this was part of the agreements they passed with the automakers to gain access to their network, and the automakers don’t feel like rushing the adapters before their cars are allowed on Superchargers even if they could speak do it sooner.

      “Pretare added about the rollout to EVs from other automakers:
      ‘We will be opening up to most of the other car companies in stages just to make sure we don’t get swamped all at once.'”

  3. A lot of people seemed to have missed the ‘bring your own cord and use a jack built into a lamp post’ part. Very interesting, wonder if it will catch on. Its going to have to be alarmed against the copper thieves.

  4. Well there was different situation in Europe….

    in late 2011 Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen agreed to introduce CCS, same protocols, except Tesla which has to be special needs participant. This consent led to the European Unions requirement for the provision of Type 2 or Combo 2 within the European electric vehicle charging network since 2014……. 10 freaking years ago…. let that sink in. ( Pharrell Williams – Happy / Interstellar movie )
    Tesla’s first Superchargers opened in 2012…… Special needs indeed
    ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqxJdl5Wbwc )

    This sentence is manipulation / misinformation/ i do not know how to call it because incompetent people / consumer is manipulated into thinking Superchargers benefit from this. THEY DO NOT-
    ” Another benefit is the standard using 277 V which means that three separate Level 2 chargers can be placed on a single 3-phase commercial line with no additional step down required. ” And what amperage those 3 chargers get from that kind of ridiculous connection ?

    In europe we do have three phase * 230V = 400V system in most houses as compared to the 2 * 120V = 240V system in US.
    AND not even talking about higher voltages in front of transformers which are ALREADY not enough for european market, so i really hope US will make some concerted effort to modernize electricity grid

    and that wood burning in 1/3 of country at least moves to making woodfiber insulation for houses from that wood instead, so they do not have to put it into chimney like 17-19 century people.

      1. It grows only so fast.

        Europe had its very first fuel crisis in the beginning of the industrial revolution when almost all of the forests got hacked down for fuel. The situation went so bad that nations had difficulties sourcing timber to build sailing ships or houses. The invention of deep coal mining saved Europe from total deforestation.

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