A big problem for electric vehicle owners could soon hurt less, thanks to an announcement from Stellantis, maker of Jeep, Ram and Chrysler, one of Detroit’s Big Three automakers.
This week, the company said it would add the Tesla-designed charging connection system, called the North American Charging Standard, or NACS, to its electric vehicles by 2025.
In most cases, the new connector will complement an older one called the Combined Charging System, or CCS, and an even older one called CHAdeMO. They were designed by a group of professional engineers, but tended to be slower, clumsier, and in many cases more difficult to implement than Tesla’s competitor.
Stellantis was the last domino to fall before the Tesla connector could declare victory in North America. Ford said it would add the newest connector to its electric vehicles in May. Since then, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai Group, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen and others have followed. In fact, only a handful of new electric companies are still holding out.
The result: by 2025, many more vehicles will be able to use many of the same charging stations.
Surveys suggest that today’s American EV owners, a relatively tolerant group of early adopters, are often frustrated with the public charging experience. Chargers with broken plugs, faulty payment systems and software incompatible with the cars they are trying to charge are common on public roads.
Locating the right public charging station is “a strange mental hurdle for people,” says Joseph Yoon, a consumer insights analyst at automotive research firm Edmunds. “Did you have to Google where the nearest gas station was?”
For those reasons, the mess of acronyms and standards seems esoteric about electric vehicles, but it could be a decisive factor in the electric transition. Now, finally, the United States has achieved some standardization of charges, in the same way that Europe and China have done. (Not surprisingly, those places are further along in EV adoption.) The change could help convince more potential EV drivers that electric is better and not that different from what they’re used to in a gasoline car.
For Tesla, the dominance of its charging standard (which it smartly renamed in 2022) is a big win. It is, symbolically, a recognition by other automakers that their Supercharger network is the most extensive and reliable in the U.S. It is also a tacit recognition that the NACS’s more compact design is superior.