The CCS Charging Standard Is on Life Support, Only Federal Subsidies Are Keeping It Alive

The CCS charging standard is on life support 6 photos
Photo: Tesla | Edited
Tesla's Charging ConnectorTesla's Charging StationCombined Charging System (CCS2) ConnectorTesla CCS Combo 1J1772 plug on Tesla Gen 2 Wall Connector
Last year, Tesla smugly named its charging plug "North American Charging Standard" as it opened it to rival EV makers without asking for anything in return. Since then, not only Ford and GM announced adopting Tesla's charging standard, but charging networks also got on board. Nobody smiles now as NACS has become THE standard. Will this mark the demise of the CCS plug? Not if the government doesn't change its stance.
In November 2022, Tesla announced that it open-sourced its charging connector, charging port, and the underlying communication technology. It also named it "North American Charging Standard," causing many to smile. As long as Tesla was the only carmaker using it, it's not a standard, let alone a North-American one. Regardless of Tesla having more EVs and more chargers in the region than all other carmakers and service providers combined.

Smiles began to fade when Ford announced adopting NACS in May. The change is not immediate, as the first Ford EVs with NACS charge ports will only arrive in 2025, but it made NACS a legitimate standard. Still, it wasn't until GM announced the same thing on June 8 that NACS became a true North American charging standard. Together, the three carmakers make up more than 60% of the US EV market, and this percentage is set to grow.

GM adopting the NACS plug may have been the accelerator that nailed the CCS standard's coffin. Immediately, several major players in the charging industry announced that they would also adopt NACS in their equipment. The most important EV makers that haven't announced adopting Tesla's standard are Rivian, Hyundai-Kia, and Volkswagen. All have their own reasons for not switching to NACS, at least for now. Still, nobody can deny the domino effect triggered by GM and Ford adopting NACS.

Many major charging networks and charging equipment suppliers have already announced support for NACS in light of GM adopting the standard. Among them are EVgo, FLO, ABB E-Mobility, and EverCharge, with more pledging support every day. Only a few months ago, everyone leaned toward the CCS standard because of the NEVI subsidies. By the time the first Ford and GM electric vehicles start rolling off the production lines with NACS in 2025, the CCS standard will already be dead in North America.

The only thing that could keep it around is the taxpayer's money. Even as Tesla, Ford, and GM popped the champagne, the White House ruined the party spirit with a statement supporting the CCS standard. The message is that Tesla's charging network would only be eligible for billions in federal subsidies if its chargers include "the US charging standard connection, CCS."

The White House pointed to the minimum standards that charging networks must comply with to access the $7.5 billion program. "Those standards give flexibility for adding both CCS and NACS, as long as drivers can count on a minimum of CCS," White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said in a statement to Reuters.

Tesla's Supercharger network is seen as more reliable and more widespread than rival charging networks that use the CCS standard. Without government support, the CCS's fate in North America is sealed. Besides subsidies, nothing about it incentivizes companies to use it, especially as Tesla is offering NACS with no royalties attached.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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