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Tesla’s EV plug is closer to become the industry standard

DETROIT (AP) – A key United States (US) automotive industry organisation said it will set performance standards for Tesla’s electric vehicle charging cords in another move toward using the Tesla plug on all electric vehicles (EVs).

The move yesterday by SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, comes just weeks after Ford, General Motors and Rivian said they would join Tesla’s large Supercharger network and adopt its North American Charging Standard connector in new versions of their EVs. But a rival connector called CCS is still in thousands of current EVs and will stay in use.

Also yesterday, Volvo Cars said it had become the fourth automaker to sign an agreement with Tesla to join the company’s charging network, starting next year. Volvo said it will adopt Tesla’s charging connector in new EVs starting in 2025.

SAE said that it’s already working on the standards and hopes to finish them within six months. The standards would govern how the plugs connect with charging stations, cyber security measures, charging speeds and reliability requirements, said president of sustainable mobility solutions for the innovation arm of SAE’s non-profit parent company Frank Menchaca.

The move likely spells the end of CCS, which was developed to standards set by SAE, said Guidehouse Research e-Mobility analyst Sam Abuelsamid. “It’s only a matter of time before no one is building new EVs with CCS connectors on them,” he said. CCS, he said, is much harder to manoeuvre and plug into vehicles than Tesla’s NACS connector, he said. Most consumers who have used both would choose Tesla’s connector, Abuelsamid said.

Tesla’s EV charging connector at a charging station in Anaheim, California, United States. PHOTO: AP

But he said charging stations will have to accommodate both plugs for many years because so many vehicles are equipped with the CCS connectors. Menchaca said Tesla and industry engineers are working on the standards in partnership.

He said automakers and consumers won’t have to pay royalties to Tesla, but EV owners will need to pay Tesla to charge on its network.

The organisation, he said, is not picking which connector will be used and said the industry still wants to support CCS.

Menchaca said SAE is setting standards for NACS because Ford, GM and Rivian have adopted it and it “looks like it’s poised to become really widely used. So in talking to all of the stakeholders we decided it needs to be standardised.” The standards, he said, will provide more choice and convenience and access to a bigger charging network. “Who knows if others come on board, it could be the dominant way that people charge,” he said.

Other automakers such as Stellantis and Hyundai are considering switching to Tesla’s connector.

At present, nearly all automakers other than Tesla use CCS. Tesla’s Superchargers are coveted by other automakers because it has more direct current fast-charging plugs in the US than any other network, and its stations are in prime locations along freeway travel corridors.

GM, Ford, Rivian and Volvo owners will get access to more than 12,000 Tesla Supercharger plugs. In the US, Tesla has 1,797 Supercharger stations and more than 19,000 plugs, according to the Department of Energy. Since the stations are direct current fast-chargers, they can charge EVs relatively quickly as people travel.