For the Non-Tesla EV owner, public fast charging can be frustrating.
Ford and General Motors have recognized this fact by announcing partnerships with Tesla.
“In early 2024, all of existing customers and future customers will have access to 12,000 [Tesla] fast-chargers across the U.S.,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said on Twitter Spaces in May.
“More charging stations, less range anxiety,” GM said this past week (June 8).
Both GM and Ford will integrate the NACS interface (Tesla plug) into their cars starting in 2024-2025. In the interim, an adapter will be offered, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
This is a case of market forces responding to a consumer need.
“Tesla’s decision to open up to other vehicles is a game changer for consumers,” Carleen Cullen Founder and Executive Director Cool the Earth, told me in an email.
“Competing EV charging companies must make substantial improvements in reliability and driver experience. Otherwise the success of these companies is at risk,” she said.
Biden administration steps in
But there are now non-market forces stepping in to support CCS. The Biden Administration on Friday appeared to be “moving the goal posts” (The Kilowatts) for NACS momentum. As Reuters reported:
“The White House on Friday said electric-vehicle charging stations using Tesla standard plugs would be eligible for billions of dollars in federal subsidies as long as they included the U.S. charging standard connection, CCS, as well.”
CCS has been around for at least a decade. And while Electrify America has done a lot to breathe life into CCS public charging in the U.S. since 2017, it doesn’t offer the convenience and usability of Tesla’s NACS.
CCS Public charging woes
If you read between the lines, the initiatives by Ford and GM are in response to ongoing consumer issues with the CCS fast-charging (Level 3) network.
In fact, in a Twitter Spaces conversation with Elon Musk last month, Ford CEO Farley mentioned that he experienced Tesla Supercharger network envy when taking a trip in a Ford EV in California last year.
Consumers have expressed similar opinions online. One thread on Reddit (”Considering selling my non-Tesla because of the charging network”) suggested trading in a non-Tesla EV because of issues with non-Tesla charging networks.
The sentiment is understandable, based on my own experience in Los Angeles with the CCS charging network offered by Electrify America. It’s not unusual to witness user frustration, particularly with new EV owners who can get stymied by the charging process.
This tweet and video by The Kilowatts underscores the difference between CCS and NACS:
Why the CCS charging network falls short of Tesla’s NACS:
Plug and wait (or plug and pray)
Getting a charging session going on CCS (Electrify America) isn’t as quick and painless as Tesla. It’s a multistep process with (sometimes) a few hiccups along the way.
Too few chargers per station
This is a problem in Los Angeles County (where I live), sometimes forcing long waits to access a charger. And getting worse as a flood of new EVs (replete with free public charging plans) hit the road. Non-Tesla charging stations often max out at between four and eight chargers. A far cry from Tesla Supercharger stations (see image at bottom).
While this can apply to some Tesla Supercharger locations too, historically it has been a shortcoming of CCS fast-charging networks. While Tesla locates Superchargers near major interstates, CCS stations are too often off the beaten path or buried behind a shopping center. And there are still vast gaps in the U.S. where there are no CCS fast-charging stations.
Chargers not working
Electrify America chargers can be hit or miss. While one charging location might be a flawless experience, the next location may be a catastrophe — with two or three chargers not working. That’s been my experience over the past several years. (Anecdotal evidence suggests this may be improving, however.)
This is rare but can be frustrating in some cases. Sometime the charger software initiates but after a few minutes times out and asks you to unplug and retry. Then times out again.
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