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Starting in 2024, owners of Ford EVs will have full access to Tesla’s Supercharger public DC fast-charging network. (Ford)

Ford stuns industry with move to join Tesla’s EV charging network, adopt connector

Ford owners in 2024 will have access to the Supercharger network, while Ford later plans to fit its EVs with Tesla’s proprietary NACS charging connector.

Ford revealed on May 25 that it made a deal with EV maker Tesla for Ford EV owners to use Tesla’s seminal Supercharger charging network beginning in early 2024. Even more significantly, Ford also confirmed that its next-generation EVs will in 2025 be fitted to accept the North American Charging Standard (NACS) charge connector developed by Tesla, rather than the SAE Standard J1772 combined charging system (CCS) connector that is employed by almost all non-Tesla public DC fast-charging networks and Level 2 home-charging systems.

Ford president and CEO Jim Farley billed the strategy as a step to accelerate the company’s ambition to lead in the transition to vehicle electrification — even as it ramps up its competition with the company on whose lauded charging network Ford intends to leverage. “This is great news for our customers who will have unprecedented access to the largest network of fast-chargers in the U.S. and Canada with 12,000-plus Tesla Superchargers plus 10,000-plus fast-chargers already in the BlueOval Charge Network,” said Farley in a statement. “Widespread access to fast-charging is absolutely vital to our growth as an EV brand, and this breakthrough agreement comes as we are ramping up production of our popular Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning and preparing to launch a series of next-generation EVs starting in 2025.”

Beginning in spring 2024, Ford EV owners will have access to Tesla’s latest V3 Superchargers via a Tesla-designed adapter to fit the CCS charge port with which those vehicles are equipped. Then, “Ford will equip future EVs with the NACS charge port, removing the need for an adapter for direct access to Tesla Superchargers, starting in 2025,” the company said in a press release.

Tesla “way” endorsed?
Tesla’s Supercharger network long has been acknowledged as the standard against which all other networks are judged, not just for its relative ubiquity — currently more than 12,000 in the U.S. — but also for its renowned reliability. As EVs from other automakers have started to proliferate, their reliance on the nascent patchwork of non-Tesla public DC fast-charging providers has demonstrated the comparative inadequacy of rival networks, despite billions of dollars of promised investment to proliferate and “harden” those systems.

In November 2022, Tesla proposed the NACS charge connector as a smaller, lighter and easier-to-handle alternative to the CCS standard and invited any automaker to adopt the “open” standard. The move was widely interpreted as an effort by Tesla to inject itself into the wider deployment of public charging, much of which is forming under the sponsorship of government subsidy. But Ford’s latest announcement could herald a shift if other automakers and major suppliers deem the NACS connector’s advantages — which include high power capacity without the need for liquid cooling.

A swing to the NACS connector will have implications that could give pause, however. Apart from the implications in regard to federal investment money — stipulations under the Inflation Reduction Act specify that chargers qualifying for subsidy must support CCS connections — the hardware designs for many EVs slated to be imminently introduced likely are too far along to easily accommodate a switch to the NACS port or a combination port. And in the future, many who previously invested in home chargers with CCS connectors would require an adapter if purchasing a vehicle with only a NACS port.

In Ford’s press release announcing the deal, Rebecca Tinucci, Tesla’s senior director of charging infrastructure, chose to focus on the present rather than future compatibility concerns. “We’ve spent the last 10 years building an industry-leading charging network that enables freedom to travel and provides charging confidence for our Tesla owners,” she said. “We’re excited to deliver on our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by welcoming Ford owners, and other electric vehicles who adopt NACS, to our thousands of Superchargers across North America.”

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