The surprise announcement Thursday night that Ford will offer current and future owners of its electric vehicles access to more than 12,000 Tesla Supercharger network stations came as a shock to most of the auto industry. Tesla has notoriously gone its own way, and its CEO’s unpredictable and increasingly political behavior has certainly made headlines, to say the least.
Putting all that aside, the CEOs of both companies jointly announced that future Ford EVs will incorporate the Tesla Connector from 2025, and current owners of Ford EVs will have access to Superchargers from Spring 2024 via a CCS connector. at Tesla. (Tesla refers to its plug and connector design as the North American Charging Standard or NACS, although many engineers have objected to this usage since Tesla has not followed the process by which an engineering standard is traditionally developed. )
A brilliant move for Ford
Personally, I think the deal is a brilliant move on Ford’s part, for several reasons. First, it will give Ford a huge marketing advantage over all other EV manufacturers other than Tesla. Second, it puts extreme, public pressure on existing fast-charging networks — Electrify America, EVgo, and others — to dramatically up their reliability game. Finally, it’s still unclear whether Ford will completely replace the existing CCS/J-1722 connector in its future EVs or simply add the Tesla connector alongside it.
Tesla, in turn, will derive significant revenue from the deal, perhaps offsetting the many billions of dollars it spent to set it up over 11 years (costs that were never broken down in its balance sheets). This income will help it significantly expand its network of superchargers (and low-speed destination chargers) by December 2024. Perhaps it can also indicate that Ford’s listing proves that its connector should be a ” standard”.
Ford has long recognized that public fast charging is a waste. It’s very first Mustang Mach-E end of 2020 includes Plug and Charge protocol, allowing a user to log in and have all validation and billing take place in the background. In October 2021, it established a fleet of “Charge Angels” who drove Ford electric vehicles to different public charging stations to test if they could actually charge. . . which was often not the case to prove the need.
Ford has also played hardball with charging networks, threatening to remove sites or parts of entire networks from its aggregated BlueOval charging network of charging sites if they were not fixed, pronto. Now, with that one gesture, he’s doubled the number of fast-charging locations available to Ford EV drivers and giving them access to what is arguably the most trusted EV fast-charging network in America. North.
The marketing advantage
Until you drive an electric vehicle, you don’t necessarily appreciate the importance of ubiquitous, reliable and tightly integrated public fast-charging to make it convenient for road trips. Tesla did, and since its Model S was the only electric vehicle in 2012 with a range of over 200 miles, it knew it had to have a reliable grid. It therefore built one, closely integrating charging, navigation and billing. In that respect, it’s like Apple: it controls the whole ecosystem.
Now, Ford will become the only automaker, besides Tesla itself, able to tell buyers, “You can charge your electric vehicle at any charging location in the United States.” Owners of current Ford EV models will receive a Tesla-designed adapter, which I trust from both manufacturers. agreed to produce in sufficient quantity. Owners of Ford’s next-generation EVs will have the Tesla Port built-in; they can presumably pull up to a Supercharger and just plug in.
That’s a huge advantage over Tesla’s current model that allows a limited number of Supercharger cables to charge CCS-equipped cars through its automatic Magic Dock connector. This connector is automatically activated when the non-Tesla CCS driver uses the Tesla app to reserve a Magic Dock-equipped dock at one of the few Supercharger sites that has one.
The heat is now on Electrify America
Much has been written about the unpredictability of non-Tesla public charging sites. Reliability, as well as comfort at least at the height of a gas station, hardly seems like a high bar, but it’s just not there. Automakers’ frustration is now “outside the box,” said a source who, like the other five interviewed for this piece, insisted on anonymity to preserve industry confidentiality. The Ford/Tesla deal is “a major boost” for Electrify America and the other networks, he said.
Today, no existing fast charging network makes money. They’re in a land grab phase, trying to get as many stations into the ground as quickly as possible to lock down desirable sites – and, in the case of Electrify America, to comply with a consent order from 10 years with EPA resulting from VW Group culpability for Dieselgate scandal Also.
This means that any missed income from the customer who drove an electric vehicle to a charger only to find it broken is irrelevant. And very few incentives exist to keep the stations running. So Ford’s deal with Tesla immediately puts tremendous pressure on Electrify America, EVgo, ChargePoint, and smaller networks that offer public charging. Indeed, Ford can say, “If you don’t bring your network up to Tesla standards, we can always direct our customers to Tesla, which we know is working fine. And you know that too, right? ?”
Will Ford get rid of CCS?
While Ford CEO Jim Farley referred to the deal as a “game-changing deal” that would be “ideal for customers”, the wording of the official announcement spoke of “access” to charging You’re here. He didn’t specifically say Ford will give up the existing CCS connector in its future cars. Nor was it directly stated in a Twitter chat between the CEOs of the two companies. Asked about this, several Ford reps responded with versions of “More details to come, stay tuned.”
It is far from certain that Ford will abandon the combined J1772 and CCS connector. And because the Tesla Connector is so compact, adding it will take up less space than the other way around. Some European and Asian cars are now sold with rectangular fuel filler flaps, to allow the same body stampings to be used for diesel models sold outside of North America that have a second fill for coolant. diesel emission. This same form factor could easily allow for the addition of a Tesla port alongside the CCS port.
Abandoning the J-1722, the Level 2 charging connector now used by all electric vehicles sold in the United States except Tesla, which even provides a J-1722 adapter to its customers, would mean that Owners of future Ford EVs should use an adapter for each. existing Tier 2 public charging cables today. It’s not user-friendly.
And ditching the CCS connector would mean using a separate, much larger adapter to charge at any of the tens of thousands of charging stations that use it, including those to be paid for by $5 billion in funds from the National electric vehicle initiative that the federal government distributes across all 50 states. Would Ford really move away from all those new fast-charging stations, forcing owners to use a bulky adapter rather than just plugging in like they currently do?
Finally, Ford was surprised at the public’s fascination with the idea that a The F-150 Lightning could power a home up to three days (with several asterisks). This is called vehicle to home, or V2H. It is the last step before the vehicle to grid, or V2G, in which the vehicle can support power grid stability via bi-directional charging. The Tesla connector is decidedly one-way, and it has no current provision even for using a Tesla as home backup power. Again, barely user friendly.
I suspect that at least initially, Ford will add the Tesla connector alongside CCS/J-1772 in its next generation of electric vehicles. This would allow him to say, “Not only can you charge your electric vehicle at any charging site in the United States, but…. . . you can do it without carrying a single adapter.”
This is something that even Tesla cannot claim. While there are many reasons why Ford may choose not to integrate two different DC fast-charging connectors into its future electric vehicles, I believe – and sources suggest – that there are multiple reasons why this is exactly what will happen.
Who will be responsible for charging electric vehicles in 2030?
Although modern EVs have been on sale for 12 years now, we are still in the early days of figuring out how to blanket the large, sprawling United States with enough DC fast-charging stations to enable the transition of EVs that will will unfold over the next 30 years. But then, early gas drivers had their own version of range anxiety Also.
It remains unclear whether existing networks will even exist in 2030. Smaller networks will likely be consolidated into larger networks, but other players are also likely to provide EV charging over the long term: utilities electricity (who buy or generate electricity independently), convenience store operators, fossil fuel companies, maybe even the automakers themselves.
But all of a sudden, Ford’s action put all existing charging networks on notice that what they’ve been offering isn’t good enough. It covers all charging bases. Above all, it will reduce the anxiety associated with driving an electric vehicle over long distances. At least, if it’s a Ford or a Lincoln EV.
Tesla may well do other similar transactions. But Ford got there first, and all EV drivers stand to benefit in the long run.
John Voelcker edited Green Car Reports for nine years, publishing more than 12,000 articles on hybrids, electric cars and other low- or zero-emission vehicles and the energy ecosystem around them. He now covers advanced automotive technologies and energy policy as a journalist and analyst. Her work has been published in print, online and radio media, including Hardwired, Popular Science, Tech Review, IEEE Spectrum, and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” He divides his time between the Catskill Mountains and New York City and still hopes to one day become an international mystery man.