The future of electric vehicle (EV) charging for non-Tesla owners may not be as bleak as it appears. Earlier this year, Ford and Tesla announced a surprise agreement in which Ford would adopt Tesla’s charging connector, the North American Charging Standard (NACS). This move was quickly followed by General Motors, Rivian, Volvo, Polestar, and Mercedes-Benz, with the rest of the auto industry expected to follow suit.
Tesla’s Supercharger network is widely considered superior to the public charging network in the US, leading to these strategic decisions. EV charging operators like Electrify America, EVgo, and ChargePoint have announced plans to add Tesla’s connector to their hubs, which currently feature the Combined Charging System (CCS) and CHAdeMO plugs. The Society of Automotive Engineers has also stated it will standardize Tesla’s NACS, making it easier for EV charging station manufacturers and operators to adopt the connector.
However, this leaves non-Tesla EV owners with a seemingly obsolete charging port. Many automakers that have adopted Tesla’s NACS plan to distribute adapters to their customers in the interim, allowing them to use Tesla’s Superchargers. These adapters are a temporary solution until manufacturers can produce EVs with the Tesla NACS port built in. However, adapters can only handle a limited amount of voltage and tend to charge more slowly than a direct connection.
Despite this, experts assure that non-Tesla EV owners should not worry. Adapters will be crucial, and while there may be some slower charge rates while using them, it’s a minor inconvenience rather than a deterrent. Public EV chargers with CCS plugs will likely still exist at least into the 2030s, and home charging will remain the optimal experience for most non-Tesla EV owners.
However, the EV charging landscape in the US has always been challenging for non-Tesla EV owners, with hard-to-find stations, broken chargers, and complex payment processes. Tesla recently began opening up some of its Superchargers to non-Tesla EVs through its own adapter, the Magic Dock. However, Superchargers have notoriously short cords, requiring some non-Tesla EV owners to park their cars at odd angles to reach the plug. Furthermore, Superchargers aren’t yet fast enough for the 800-volt systems of Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles.
Non-Tesla EV owners will have to pay a little more than Tesla owners, but the payment is handled through the app. The company also offers a $12.99 per month subscription plan for those interested in paying a little less per kWh. As more car companies adopt NACS, there will be a variety of ways to pay for charging. However, this could lead to the need for multiple apps on your phone to charge your car, a situation that neither consumers nor regulators want. As the EV market is still in its infancy, early adopters must be prepared to accept initial pain points as the technology evolves and the best standards emerge.