Everything You Need to Know About Tesla
Everything You Need to Know About Tesla’s North American Charging Standard
One of the defining features of a new technology is the race to establish standards for it, from manufacturing and equipment to regulations and features. When it comes to electric vehicles, drivers have to choose from a sometimes confusing array of plug types to keep their wheels on the road.
That’s all coming to an end, however, as Tesla’s North American Charging Standard, or “NACS,” emerges as the likeliest frontrunner for the industry’s future. To find out what this means for the EV industry and for you as a driver, take a look at the guide to the new standard below.
History of Tesla Superchargers
One of the initial obstacles to the adoption of electric vehicles was the problem of charging. When the first all-electric vehicle to hit the North American market, the Nissan Leaf, arrived in 2010, drivers were restricted to using CHAdeMO charging stations at dealerships and a handful of other locations.
With the launch of the Model S sedan in 2012, Tesla unveiled a groundbreaking new ambition: the creation of a continent-wide Supercharger network using their own proprietary Tesla Charging Connector technology. At the time, the major standard was the Combined Charging System (CCS), developed by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which remains widespread in North America.
Over the following decade, Tesla steadily expanded the Supercharger network, eventually setting up charging stations every 70 to 120 miles along every Interstate in the United States. At the same time, the number of charging ports at certain stations has been increased to accommodate demand, making it one of the most identifiable charging options throughout the country.
NACS vs. CCS: What’s the Difference?
The Combined Charging System gets its name from its ability to charge vehicles via both AC and DC power The key difference with the Tesla charging standard is that Superchargers directly supply DC power to vehicle batteries, with slightly shorter charging times — up to 30 minutes, compared to CCS’s maximum charging time of one hour.
Aside from that design feature, a NACS charging port and a CCS charging port function in much the same way. However, to use a CCS port, Tesla drivers need an additional adapter cable.
Why Is Tesla’s NACS Becoming the Standard?
In terms of distribution, CCS is still the most widespread EV charging system, with 5,240 CCS1 locations throughout the United States. The North American Charging Standard has around 1,900 stations. But with almost 19,500 NACS charging ports compared to under 10,500 CCS1 ports, the Supercharger network offers greater density and, in high-traffic locations, shorter waiting times.
That density didn’t make much of a difference to non-Tesla EV drivers until recently, however. In November 2022, Tesla announced that it would be opening its charging network to EVs built by other manufacturers by the end of 2024.
Ford was the first company to announce the switch to NACS Tesla, offering an adapter cable to drivers of current models. They were quickly followed by GM, EV manufacturer Rivian, Volvo, Mercedes, Nissan, and Polestar. Plus, each of these companies has announced that starting in 2025, all new EVs will come standard with NACS connectors.
With some of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers switching to the North American Charging Standard, Tesla’s Supercharger network is poised to overtake CCS in both the United States and Canada.
While CCS stations and ports will continue to be found throughout the continent, Tesla drivers of major branded EVs will need to carry a Tesla adapter to use them beginning in 2025. Eventually, it will become much easier to find a NACS charging port as the Supercharger network expands even more.
How Can the Tesla Charging Standard Benefit Drivers?
Both CCS and NACS offer fast, reliable power supplies at thousands of locations across North America. In fact, since most EVs had to use CCS until recently, many drivers couldn’t derive any advantage from the Supercharger network.
That’s changing with the surprise adoption of NACS as a true continental standard. With Tesla’s charging infrastructure now available to more EV drivers, you can expect to see more NACS stations popping up along the roadside in years to come. That means faster charging, greater availability, and an end to long, frustrating searches for a fast-charging port away from home.