One of Tesla’s main competitive advantages in North America is its network of chargers, which for the most part can only charge Tesla vehicles.
Tesla chargers outnumber so-called CCS chargers, the type used by Ford, General Motors, Audi, Rivian and others, by a factor of two to one, according to Tesla. Now Tesla has invited other automakers to build cars with charging ports that can work with Tesla’s charging format and for other charging companies, like EVGo, ChargePoint and Electrify America, to add outlets. Tesla style to their chargers.
It’s not yet clear if other companies might take up Tesla’s offer, or if anyone ever will.
Tesla drivers have long been able to use CCS chargers with a simple adapter that fits over the charging socket. But actually having a Tesla-style charging cord – Tesla now has dubbed it the “North American Charging Standard” or NACS, although not an official government designation, would make the process easier and not require the purchase of an adapter.
For non-Tesla vehicles, the ability to use a Tesla Supercharger – the company’s name for its fast chargers – has been more complicated and requires, at best, a special adapter purchased from another company. Even then, it may still not work due to differences in how cars communicate with the charger.
Driving a car with a Tesla-style NACS charging station will make this much easier. But no automaker or charging company has so far announced its intention to accept Tesla’s offer announced in a blog post on Friday.
The company and its CEO, Elon Musk, have previously talked about opening up its charging network to non-Tesla vehicles. The company has started doing this in Europe, where Tesla vehicles are equipped with a European version of the industry-standard CCS-style charging ports.
On the same day Tesla announced its offer for other companies to use its charging format, charging company EVGo announced a temporary offer for Tesla drivers with a CCS adapter to use EVGo fast charging stations without paying a fee monthly subscription.
Under EVGo’s existing plan, called Autocharge+, Tesla drivers can use the EVGo phone app to connect and quickly start a charging session. The timing of EVGo’s promotional announcement was coincidental, said Jonathan Levy, EVGo’s chief commercial officer, and EVGo currently has no plans to begin installing Tesla charging cables at its stations.
In the past, Tesla has offered to license other companies to use various Tesla-patented technologies, but that meant the companies had to abide by Tesla’s “Patent Pledge.”
Under the terms of this agreement, companies that wanted to use Tesla technology had to agree not to sue Tesla for any kind of patent infringement or to help any other company do so, essentially offering patent sharing. from Tesla a two-way street. .
It’s unclear whether Tesla’s patent promise applies to the use of the NACS charging standard. Tesla, which does not usually respond to questions from the media, did not respond to emailed questions on the matter.
Bill Visnic, editorial director of the Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, said he didn’t think automakers would accept Tesla’s offer. CCS is a standard developed by SAE with a consortium of automotive manufacturers.
“There’s a lot of significant work and collaboration that went into it,” he said.
Even Visnic admitted, however, that Tesla chargers tend to be more reliable and easier to use than other public chargers.
As for the charging companies, Visnic said, it’s likely they’ll want to keep their chargers using the CCS standard since Tesla already has a larger network of chargers and many Tesla drivers can easily use a adapter. (Some Tesla vehicles do not work with CCS adapters.)
But charging companies may want to add these cables because it could attract new customers, said Jim Burness, CEO of National Car Charging, a wholesaler of equipment for the electric vehicle charging industry. Burness owns a Tesla as a personal vehicle.
“It will help owners of older Teslas who would not only have to buy an adapter but also pay for a retrofit on their car if the plug is right there on the station,” he said.