The NACS Standard and what it means for us EV Owners on SSI
Perhaps you have seen the recent announcements of initially Apterra, then followed by Ford and GM shifting their electric vehicle charging strategy to support the NACS (North American Charging Standard) otherwise known as Tesla Chargers (Level 2 Destination chargers and Tesla Superchargers for high speed charging). Now other charger companies like Rivian, Flo and ChargePoint are following suit. This finally seals the deal for a single charging standard in North America.
Such technology battles are not new. Consider the Beta vs VHS battle which was followed by Blue Ray vs HD DVD and now the many streaming options. Another format competition was Palm Pilot vs Blackberry vs iPhone. Eventually there is just a few winners. Try to find someone using a beta machine or Palm Pilot today.
One of the first deaths in the EV charging arena was ChaDeMo, the Japanese standard (https://electricvehicleofficial.com/chademo-phased-out/). Vehicles that use it will see that receptacle not being supported and being considered the standard, CCS, the European standard. Now, CCS is destined to be replaced, at least in North America over time by NACS. Europe is likely to stay with with CCS. Global standardization can be a challenge. Left hand drive, right hand drive - you get it.There are many reasons for NACS to win. It was the first to appear in North America, and has by far the most chargers in place. It has the highest reliability rating and is the only networked solution. But probably one of the biggest reasons is reliability. The NACS port is used for Level 1, 2 and DCFC. The vehicle software determines the level, and then locks the port and engages the charging. There are no trigger switches. So no chance of damage to the charger wand or vehicle port. Because to date there is a single manufacturer, there is minimal chance of the issue of manufacturing variance, a topic of a recent article I wrote in the Driftwood.
The Tesla NACS Superchargers have no second party billing system (Fobs, etc.). Plug the car and the charge is automatically taken off the card you purchased the car with. Because of the network connectivity, there is real time interfacing with the vehicle. I know how many charging stalls are available as I approach the station, my vehicle will pre-adjust the battery temperature in preparation for optimal high speed charging. The software an re-route me to a better location for various reasons. The charging station is aware of the charging needs of each customer and can use that information to load balance, and if I am there parking past a full charger, I am fined at 3 times the normal rate. This pretty much ensures encourages a non-charging Tesla from parking there, watching YouTube, Netflicks or Apple TV on the free wi-fi. It remains to be seen how much of the network features will be available to the new converts.
Will a new host of charging adaptors appear to connect with NACS ? Probably. A decade from now, I suspect it will be likely a challenge to locate a ChaDeM and CCS charger.
So, what does that mean for the EV charging locations on SSI ? For those considering adding additional charging units, there is now a choice. An ideal combination for today is at Moby’s or the SS Apple Company, which have both a J1772 and a NACS, or Country Grocer (2 of each). In these locations and other locations, to future-proof and to provide the best customer experience, additional units will gradually shift to adding additional NACS. Remember, the majority of electric cars to enter the street have yet to be built.