Ford/Tesla alliance for premium: the opposite of common sense

Ford/Tesla alliance for premium: the opposite of common sense

Ford has struck a deal with Tesla to offer owners of Ford electric vehicles an easy plug-in to Tesla’s network of superchargers. A surprise collaboration that nevertheless sends a very bad signal.

The news should please American Ford customers. Ford boss Jim Fairley and Tesla boss Elon Musk made a joint announcement on May 25 on Twitter. They shared a common ground and some visions about the electric car. The essence of this partnership between these two brands is the use of Tesla superchargers and Ford vehicles.

Tesla has begun opening up some of its US charging stations to all automakers. As in Europe, this access to 12,000 charging stations will continue. Except that unlike Europe, American superchargers do not have Combo CCS sockets. They use so-called North American Charging Standard (NACS) sockets, a type of Tesla-specific Type 2 format, while the cars have the current international Combo CSS format.

Adapter first, then integrated socket for later models

Tesla will start by developing an adapter for Ford electric cars to connect to the V3 supercharger. This solution will allow current Ford owners to not have to wait for all the US stations to be open to everyone. It will still be necessary to wait a little, because the adapter should not be available until the beginning of next year according to Elon Musk.

Tesla NCAS Socket // Source: Tesla

In the second step, Ford will equip its future electric cars with Tesla’s charging standard. This solution will make the use of adapters unnecessary. From 2025, Ford models will be fitted directly with NACS sockets. The question remains whether future models will have both standards: Combo CCS and NCAS, or only the latter. Models like Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT use this system with two different sockets in two places in the car, it is impossible.

Finally, to easily take advantage of Tesla’s advanced chargers, Ford would have to change the location of its charging port. Currently, to connect to Tesla terminals, the Ford Mustang Mach-e and F-150 Lightning must use two terminals.

Electric Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-e // Source: Ford

Americans Launch Opposition to Combo CCS

While all countries, and almost all manufacturers, have now adopted CCS Combo sockets (type 1 or 2) for fast charging in their electric vehicles, Tesla in the United States continues to use the format it created. Even the Japanese have started to abandon their ChadeMo sockets and switch to Combo CSS, to facilitate the synchronization of terminals and vehicles internationally.

Tesla Supercharger // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama
Transition between type 2 and CCS for superchargers // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

If you feel like you’re witnessing a Europe vs. America conflict, that’s because it probably is. It was Europe, and more especially German manufacturers, who pushed for the international adoption of this type of seal. In Europe, Tesla even ended up equipping cars with superchargers and Combo CSS sockets, which it did not do in the USA.

Since the end of 2022, Tesla has been pushing other manufacturers using NCAS which he continued. Ford is the first major global manufacturer to make the announcement. Before that, the Aptera brand had already indicated that it would use this hole in its solar cars.

When the charging socket format battle finally seemed to settle down, Tesla wants to turn everything upside down again. I’m not sure that everyone sees this in a positive light. Now is not the time to divide and conquer.

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