A big problem for electric vehicle owners may soon be less painful, thanks to an announcement from Jeep, Ram and Chrysler maker Stellantis, one of Detroit's Big Three automakers.
This week, the company announced that it would add the Tesla-designed charging connection system, called the North American Charging Standard, or NACS, to its electric vehicles by 2025.
In most cases the new connector will complement an older connector called a combined charging system, or CSC, and an even older one, called CHAdeMO. These were designed by a group of professional engineers, but they tended to be slower, more cumbersome, and in many cases harder to break in than Tesla's competitor.
Stellantis was the last domino to fall before Tesla's connector could declare victory in North America. Ford said it would add the new connector to its electric vehicles in May. Since then, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Honda, the Hyundai group, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, and others followed. In fact, only a handful of electric startups are still holding out.
The result: by 2025, many more vehicles will be able to use many of the same stations to charge.
Surveys suggest that current U.S. electric vehicle owners, a relatively tolerant group of early adopters, are often frustrated with the public charging experience. Chargers with broken plugs, wonky payment systems, and software incompatible with the cars they're trying to charge are all common on public roads.
Finding the right public charging station is “a weird mental hurdle for people,” says Joseph Yoon, a consumer insights analyst at automotive research firm Edmunds. “Did you have to Google where the nearest gas station was?”
For these reasons, the mess of acronyms and standards seems esoteric for electric vehicles, but could be a decisive factor in the electric transition. Today, finally, the United States has achieved a certain standardization of prices, like Europe and China. (It's no surprise that these countries are further along in EV adoption.) This change could help convince more potential EV drivers that electric is both better and not that different from what they are used to in a gasoline car.
For Tesla, the domination of its charging standard (which it cleverly renamed in 2022) is a big victory. This is, symbolically, a recognition from other automakers that its Supercharger network is both the most extensive and most reliable in the United States. It's also a tacit acknowledgment that the NACS' more compact design is superior.