go forth and buy (some) non-tesla EVs!

the beginning of the end of the non-Tesla fast-charging nightmare

4 min, 687 words

Tags: EVs

(Update: more automakers have announced they'll adopt NACS!)

the good news

With the announcement by General Motors this past Thursday that it will adopt the North American Charging Standard (NACS) fast-charger -- giving it access to many of Tesla's fast-chargers -- I can officially once again whole-heartedly evangelize non-Tesla EVs! (From Ford & GM; Ford announced the same two weeks ago.)

Just few months ago I had said I was terribly disappointed that I could no longer recommend buying a non-Tesla EV if...

  • it was going to be one's only car, and...
  • one wanted to be able to even occasionally take long trips

The reason for my dampened non-Tesla EV enthusiasm was two-fold:

  • The non-Tesla fast-charging network, though slowly growing, has real reliability issues (link-1, link-2). (This is in contrast to Tesla's fast-charging network, which is extremely reliable.)
  • The number of fantastic non-Tesla EVs has significantly increased, greatly exacerbating the frequency of terrible fast-charging experiences for non-Tesla EVs.


The non-Tesla fast-charging system is comprised of a bunch of different companies not directly related to the main auto-companies. It uses a fast-charge plug and standard called CCS-1; Tesla's fast-charge plug and standard, NACS, is different. For a while, Tesla tried to get its fast-charger adopted to be a standard, but was unsuccessful.

Last Fall Tesla released its fast-charger as an open standard -- with no takers. Though Tesla claimed it was open to other companies using its fast-chargers, most observers assessed that other auto-companies didn't want to be seen as in any way supporting upstart Tesla that has so disrupted the business-model of the traditional automakers. Second, many were suspicious that Tesla was serious. It's a huge competitive advantage for Tesla not to allow others to use its network.

But apparently Tesla was serious. Further, in addition to allowing Ford and GM to use its fast-chargers, it committed to fully opening its fast-charger-APIs to allow Ford and GM to completely integrate all fast-charger-availability and payment-processing through Ford's and GM's apps (not the Tesla app). Tesla fans aren't convinced that this is good for Tesla as a company, because even though Tesla will make money from charging for electricity, it'll completely lose a major competitive sales advantage (this post is an example of that). Still, the vast majority of Telsa fans are excited about this, because it will help advance EV adoption -- a core Tesla mission.

Already some of the big third-party charging companies have stated that they'll add NACS cables to their chargers. Most analysts believe it's just a matter of time before remaining auto-companies selling EVs in the U.S. make similar announcements. (Tesla makes up some two-thirds of the U.S. EV market; Tesla, Ford and GM together make up about three-fourths.)

the import

The reason this is so important is that Tesla's fast-charging stations are super-reliable. That means...

  • folk with non-Teslas will no longer have charging-anxiety on long trips
  • non-Tesla charging networks will have to dramatically improve their reliability once the non-Tesla owners see how reliable charging can be at the Tesla fast-charging stations

The wonderful icing on the cake is that the Tesla-NACS charger-plug is much, much better than the non-Tesla-CCS charger-plug. This is acknowledged even by folk who dislike Tesla. Look at this comparison-picture from the Electrek website. The NACS plug (in black) is smaller and significantly easier to handle, and the receiver port in the car works for both fast-charging and at-home-slow-charging.

This is a real win for consumers and for the adoption of EVs.