NACS: The North American Charging Standard

The North American Charging Standard (NACS) is gaining momentum in the US. Learn what is it, who supports it and its future

The North American Charging Standard (NACS), also known as the Tesla charging standard, is an electric vehicle (EV) charging connector system developed by Tesla, Inc. It was first introduced in 2012 and has since become the de facto standard for DC fast charging in North America.

Background and Development

Tesla developed the NACS connector to meet the specific needs of its EVs, which require higher power levels than other EVs on the market. The connector is designed to support up to 1,000 volts DC and 650 amps, which allows Tesla vehicles to charge at much faster speeds than EVs that use other charging standards.

In November 2022, Tesla announced that it would open up the NACS connector to other EV manufacturers and charging network operators. This decision was met with mixed reactions from the industry, with some praising Tesla for its openness and others expressing concerns about the potential for fragmentation in the EV charging market.

OEMs support

Many OEMs have announced that they will use the NACS connector in some or all of their future EVs. This is a major step forward for the NACS standard, as it could help accelerate its adoption and make it easier for drivers to find compatible chargers

OEM Name Announcement Vehicles released
Ford 2023 2025
Rivian 2023 2025
Hyundai 2023 2024
Kia 2023 2024
GM 2023 2025
BMW 2022 2025

NACS Technical Specifications

The NACS connector is a bayonet-style connector with a locking mechanism. It is designed to be easy to use and to provide a secure connection between the EV and the charger. The connector is also designed to be durable and to withstand the rigors of repeated use. The NACS connector supports both AC and DC charging. AC charging is typically used for slower overnight charging, while DC charging is used for fast charging. The NACS connector can support up to 277 volts AC and 500 or 1,000 volts DC. The connector contains two large pins to carry the electric current (the same pins are used for AC and DC), a ground pin, and two control pins (PP and CP).

NACS Pinout
North American Charging Standard – Pinout

NACS vs CCS-1

The incumbent EV plug protocol in the US is the Combined Charging System (CCS-1) standard. It is a four-pin connector that can support up to 350 kW of charging power. The CCS standard was developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and is supported by all non-Tesla automakers and charging network operators in the US.

In November 2022, Tesla announced that it would open up the NACS standard to other automakers and charging network operators. This decision was met with mixed reactions from the industry. Some automakers and charging network operators welcomed the move, as it could help to promote greater compatibility between EVs and chargers. Others expressed concerns that the NACS standard could fragment the EV charging market and make it more difficult for drivers to find compatible chargers.

The main benefit of the NACS standard is that it is much smaller, has a built-in latch mechanism, and can be used within the Tesla charger network, the largest network in the US.

NACS vs. CCS-1
NACS vs. CCS-1 size comparison

 

Challenges and Future Outlook

Despite its many benefits, the NACS connector also faces some challenges. These challenges include:

  • Proprietary design: The NACS connector is a proprietary design, meaning it is not owned or controlled by a standards organization. This could make adopting the connector more difficult for other EV manufacturers and charging network operators.
  • Fragmentation: The opening up of the NACS connector could lead to fragmentation in the EV charging market, as there may be multiple charging standards in use.

Despite these challenges, the NACS connector is a promising technology that has the potential to accelerate the adoption of EVs. Tesla has a long history of innovation, and the NACS connector is a testament to the company’s commitment to developing cutting-edge technology.

Charger and Software support for the NACS standard

As the NACS standard becomes more popular in the US, many charger vendors (Tritium, Zarova, and many others) announce their product support. Charge Point Management Platforms (CMPS)  such as Wevo Energy have also announced support for this standard.

Wevo North American Charging Standard Support
The Wevo platform already supports the North American Charging Standard

Conclusion

The North American Charging Standard is a significant development in the EV industry. It has the potential to make it easier and more convenient for people to own and drive EVs. As the EV market grows, the NACS connector will likely play an increasingly important role in transitioning to a sustainable transportation system.

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