Transitioning to NACS: Implications and Adaptation

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The Shift Towards NACS: Considerations and Future Strategies

Each passing day brings forth more noteworthy developments concerning the transition from the CCS1 to the NACS fast charging standard in the United States.

As reported exclusively by Reuters, the Texas Department of Transportation has announced an additional criterion for obtaining federal funding for new charging infrastructure: companies will now be required to ensure NACS compatibility.

It is important to remember that at the federal level, there is a substantial amount of funding, up to $7.5 billion, allocated for charging infrastructure projects. However, to qualify for these funds, new projects must meet various requirements. While the funds are disbursed through state transportation departments, individual states maintain control over the distribution process, allowing them to impose additional rules and regulations according to their specific needs.

At the federal level, there exists a mandate for a minimum number of charging stalls utilizing the Combined Charging System (CCS1) standard. Even Tesla Superchargers will need to be equipped with CCS1 connectors to qualify for funding. However, significant changes have occurred in the US since mid-2022. Leading automakers such as Ford, General Motors, and Rivian have opted to transition from CCS1 to Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) connector.

Given the primary objective of ensuring infrastructure readiness for new electric vehicle (EV) models, Texas’ implementation of NACS requirements appears to be reasonable and adds a new geographic dimension to the overall transition. In our perspective, if the EV industry is willing to adopt the switch from CCS1 to NACS, it should be executed as seamlessly as possible. The recommended approach would involve updating the federal requirement to encompass both plugs for the next few years. This would ensure that older CCS1-compatible vehicles are not left behind while new EVs come equipped with NACS connectors.

A potential scenario could involve maintaining the NACS requirement as the sole standard after 2030, while phasing out the CCS1 requirement. By that time, an abundance of CCS1 chargers and NACS adapters would be available, while new EVs would come equipped with NACS connectors. This process resembles what was witnessed in Europe, where charging units initially supported multiple plug types.

Alternatively, some states might follow Texas’ lead by rationalizing requirements at the state level. As mentioned in the article, several states are already considering solutions such as additional charging points or imposing specific requirements.

Conversely, in a scenario where Tesla’s NACS-compatible electric vehicles capture more than 60 percent of the market share, coupled with upcoming NACS-compatible models from other manufacturers and the availability of dual-head DC fast chargers supporting both CCS1 and NACS standards, the existing requirements may begin to lose practical significance. From a business perspective, charging networks will inevitably need to incorporate NACS compatibility to cater to the majority of potential customers. In such a landscape, the requirements outlined on paper may become mere formalities.

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