back to article SAE says yes to making Tesla EV chargers an American standard

The winds of EV charging standards change continue to favor Elon Musk, as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has confirmed plans to standardize Tesla's in-house car charging hardware. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean Tesla's chosen charger is the new US standard, it simply means the SAE is getting on board with the …

  1. Adam Azarchs

    CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

    The adapter for CCS is enormous. I don't think it would physically fit anywhere convenient on a model 3. It's loaded down by decisions that only make sense in the context of backwards compatibility with standards that were developed before anyone was actually buying electric cars. At this point, Tesla has sold many more vehicles (and installed many more charging stations) using their for-the-moment-priority adapter than the cumulative total sold with CCS. If we're going to ditch it, now's the time.

    1. talk_is_cheap

      Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

      As a standard it is also very slow-moving - it still has nothing about VtH or VtG features and is not expected to include such features until 2025, which would mean CCS cars are unlikely to offer support until 2027. It is basically a standard for car manufacturers, by car manufacturers that only benefits car manufacturers.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

        "As a standard it is also very slow-moving - it still has nothing about VtH or VtG features"

        Are you saying that CCS or rather J-1772 fitted cars don't have those features? Some of them do have "vehicle to load" using the onboard AC charger backwards to provide mains power. A Vehicle to Home scenario would need separate high power electronics to use the car's battery. A Vehicle to Grid function isn't really ready for primetime yet. I can see it as being a really good thing when the grid can transmit pricing for both directions and during heavy demand an EV owner would be able to sell power back at a nice profit. Until the rest of the system is ready for that, it's not going to be used by very many people and initially only with large fleet users. VtG is in the ChaDeMo spec, but that never really caught on. The external gear also made it only worthwhile for big fleets due to the cost.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

          The guy who's main youtube channel is Technology Connections might disagree with you, although, after spending 24 hours powering everything from a CCS cable connected to his Hyundai Ioniq 5. He published the video on his 2nd channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO5fJ8z66Z8 (technology connextras)

          1. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

            Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

            And Alec also had his christmas string lights plugged in as well ;-)

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

            "The guy who's main youtube channel is Technology Connections might disagree with you, "

            Alec did a great presentation, but he's still just doing VtL. I'd consider a real VtH (Vehicle to Home) as hooking the car up in such a way that it can power the whole house. VtL is a great idea. If the power went out in my house and I wanted to plug in the fridge, some lights, phone charger and the coffee maker, an EV that can do that would be a big bonus. It's already built in where the onboard charger in an EV isn't going to be robust enough to run the an entire household.

        2. talk_is_cheap

          Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

          The problem is vehicle to load has nothing to do with CCS, as you say it is a dedicated additional inverter added to the car. VtG and VtH need 2 things a connection that supports it - which is the CCS problem and cars that use LiFePO4-like batteries rather than Li-ion-like batteries so that the battery pack can be cycled 1,000's of times during its life.

          A real-world example is the MG4 EV that has a 51kWh LiFePO4 battery. This is a £27,000 car in the UK, if it could offer VtG/VtG via its CCS port using a supporting charger/inverter it becomes a home battery and car combo making its purchase price far easier to justify.

          As for ChaDeMo the whole standard never caught on as the whole of the EU created it's own standard with no advanced features as part of the spec. Instead, we now have individual car manufacturers extending CCS and that never ends well.

    2. jch

      Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

      Unless I’m massively wrong, a UK Model 3 has a CCS connector. It definitely fits; if it didn’t a model 3 wouldn’t be able to use a Tesla supercharger which might be considered a bit of a disadvantage.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

        The European CCS connector isn’t the same as the North American one. The US uses CCS 1, the EU (and UK) uses CCS 2.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

      "The adapter for CCS is enormous. I don't think it would physically fit anywhere convenient on a model 3."

      In countries other than the US, regulations require that Tesla's use a true standard and not their proprietary plug/protocol. In China, Teslas have to use the Chinese national standard and I believe that CCS is required in Scandinavia.

      Tesla has not sold more EV's than everybody else combined worldwide. It requires much more cherry picking than that. Perhaps in the US, but there's almost nothing but expensive and luxury EV's on offer. Europe has a much broader choice and China is awash in EV choice. Elon laughs at BYD, but if they choose to start making and selling passenger cars in the US, he won't be laughing anymore. They could also do some rebadging with somebody such as Geely owned Volvo or another Chinese firm that sells a brand that originated someplace else and has a presence in the US. The same goes for Ora who are also getting good press for selling cars that aren't coated in 'features'. There's very little press in the US about EV's that isn't focused on Tesla.

    4. toejam++

      Re: CCS may be a standard, but not a good one

      I also agree that it was a mistake to maintain backwards physical compatibility given the rarity of EVs in 2011 when CCS was published. They should have just done what Tesla did with their new Model S/X plug and designed something beefier that was compatible with the existing J1772 EVSEs using only a passive adapter. That's what owners of older EVs had to do when the J1772 standard switched from using Avcon connectors to Yazaki connectors. Or maybe the automakers should have just thrown more money and pressure at Tesla for them to have kicked their new plug standard over to a neutral licensing association.

      The funny thing is, you can charge a 1999 Ford Ranger EV with a modern Tesla Destination Charger (EVSE) using only a passive adapter. If you do the majority of your charging at home or at your motorpool, it isn't much of a bother.

  2. Roland6 Silver badge

    SAE Standard = Telsa relinquish patent rights + control of design

    Ie. Learn the lesson of mobile FRAND patents and McLean’s intermodal container.

    Nothing less should be accepted.

    1. binaryspiral

      Re: SAE Standard = Telsa relinquish patent rights + control of design

      There's a worthy Wiki rabbit hole you sent me down - thanks!

  3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    ... the Combined Charging System (CCS) that's been standard in all US EVs, sans Teslas, since 2013.

    I think you mean "sauf (except) Teslas", not "sans (without) Teslas".

  4. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Not sure about calling it a win

    The SAE isn't going to certify a standard that's still proprietary to one company. If Tesla throws the doors open to other makers they'll have to do so without being able to collect a royalty on each plug fitted. It will allow Tesla to qualify for free government money in the US which they may have decided will be more lucrative in the short term over trying to license their charging scheme. Elon is well known for making enemies of government agencies and government officials so there was no way he'd be allowed to collect a portion of any government largesse for a charging network that is brand specific.

    It's still going to be a big capital outlay for Tesla. Their cars all have the charging ports fitted at the left rear of the car and have installed rather short cables on their chargers. In places where they've allowed other brands to use their chargers, it often means those cars have to use 2 spaces to park in a way where the cable will reach. Superchargers, at least in the US, don't have anyway to pay at the charger so people will have to open an account with Tesla, register their car with the service and have a payment method attached. All of that is something I'm not pleased with. It's just too much information to hand out for a bucket of electrons.

    Finally, the AC/DC switching so the connector uses the same pins for both scares me. I prefer the CCS/J-1772 connector's approach of keeping those separate. If you are DC fast charging and the contactor glitches, you don't want a path for 800vdc to get to the onboard AC charger. It shouldn't happen, but........

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Not sure about calling it a win

      The switching has provably worked fine as long as Teslas have existed, for over 10 years.

      Look at USB these days, for years now we've had chargers that could deliver way higher than 5 V, when negiotated, but stay at 5 V if no handshake is done. Also has demonstrably been fine.

      Using extra conductors consumes a lot of material, presumably copper, increasing the cost of the cables and connectors appreciably. All whilst increasing the likelihood the cables might be stolen.

  5. Ribfeast

    Here in Australia we have the CCS, and I like that people can't just randomly walk up and unplug my car while it is charging. I don't find the connector too bulky, but I guess in other countries where you need to use an adaptor to get CCS to plug into NACS it might be an issue.

  6. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    That Rogue Programmer

    Watch out he does not work for Tesla - he's likely to detect a non-Tesla being plugged in to a Tesla super charge station and then reduce the charge rate

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: That Rogue Programmer

      Actually, he works at Electrify America, and its 'if a car is plugged in' reduce charging power.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: That Rogue Programmer

      "Watch out he does not work for Tesla - he's likely to detect a non-Tesla being plugged in to a Tesla super charge station and then reduce the charge rate"

      The detection is dead simple. To initiate the session (and the billing) the car sends its VIN. Every car has a brand code in the VIN and it's not very hard to look up those codes for anybody to get a ton of info on the car as it left the factory. If you can pay at the charger, the VIN may not be sent since it isn't necessary. If I had an EV that could send its VIN through the charge connector, I'd be keen to excise that code. I'd also like to work that sort of thing out to provide the service to others (for a fee).

  7. Hairy Spod

    The thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from

    North America isn't like the rest of the world.

    Due to misplaced overconfidence from the legacy manufacturers who convinced themselves that EVs in America would only a be fad and a lack of investment, Tesla superchargers represent over 60% of the available rapid chargers over there. If you want to go on longer journeys off of some of the better trodden routes you had better be in a Tesla or you might not get there, so this move shouldn't be too surprising.

    As someone else above pointed out the CCS connector used in North America isnt even the same as the one used in Europe and the test of the world, CHAdeMO is pretty much a dead duck now outside of Japan and China has its own standard too.

    I think Tesla represents 15-20% of the available charging sites around UK and Europe, so its CCS rather Tesla is the one with market traction (not to mention compulsory EU legislation on its side) I dont see anything other than CCS becoming dominant here.

    Its not that hard to fit two cables to chargers, much in the same way fuel pumps often offer, unleaded, premium unleaded and diesel. In the UK upto now they tend to be CCS type 2 and CHAdeMO but I can see that quickly changing to become CCS type 2 and Tesla

    1. toejam++

      Re: The thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from

      If anything is going to challenge the dominance of CCS2 in Europe, it isn't going to be NACS. European Tesla Superchargers never offered support for the Model S/X connector, so it would be starting from scratch. It doesn't support three-phase AC charging. The more competitive charging network landscape in Europe would prevent Tesla from throwing its weight around. And the European regulatory environment is generally hostile to anything other than Type 2 connectors.

      I'm interested to see how ChaoJi adoption progresses. Both Chinese and Japanese automakers have agreed to ditch their respective fast DC standards, GB/T-DC and CHAdeMOv2, in favor of it. If it becomes the norm across Asia, the potential arises where CCS2 and ChaoJi usage could overlap. If drivers prefer it, that might pressure charging networks and regulatory authorities into adopting it alongside CCS2.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: The thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from

        " European Tesla Superchargers never offered support for the Model S/X connector"

        V2 superchargers in Europe had 2 cables and did support the pre-2019 model S and X with the DC type 2 connector. The V3 supercharger is single cable and you need an adapter for pre-2019 S and X models.

        1. toejam++

          Re: The thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from

          What you're referring to is still a IEC 62196 Type 2 connector and inlet. The European Model S and X just supported a Tesla extension to the signaling and charging specs that facilitated DC charging over a Type 2 cable. That's different than the Model S/X connector used in the North American and Asian markets that was mechanically incompatible with Type 1 and 2 connectors and that eventually became the connector and inlet for the NACS.

          In some texts, using pins L3 for DC+ and L2 for DC- is referred to as "DC Low", using pins N & L3 for DC+ and L1 & L2 for DC- is referred to as "DC Mid", and using pins CCS DC+ and CCS DC- is referred to as "DC High". Tesla is the only company to use the former two levels.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: The thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from

      "Tesla superchargers represent over 60% of the available rapid chargers over there"

      At this point your figures on this are inverted.

  8. Orv Silver badge

    I'm sure we won't regret giving Elon a monopoly on charging infrastructure. I'm sure we'll never, say, discover one day that he's decided Ford is too "woke" and Fords are now all charging at quarter-speed.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "I'm sure we'll never, say, discover one day that he's decided Ford is too "woke" and Fords are now all charging at quarter-speed."

      I'd be worried about things happening like they do with music subscriptions where the provider has a disagreement with a publisher/label, contracts expire and your music library contracts as those songs are deleted from your collection.

      I'm not too sure that if the Tesla connector becomes an SAE standard that Tesla will have a say on anything other than Tesla stations. Check your customer agreements when you sign up for an account with Tesla to use their charging stations. If Tesla did throttle certain brands in protest of one thing or another, they'd lose plenty of accounts, why use Superchargers over another brand, and notes posted at forums such as PlugShare would note poor charging speeds and cause people to look elsewhere. Even if speeds were maxed for Tesla and certain other brands, slowdowns for certain makes/models would be discovered very quickly and might trigger legal actions.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Street signs

        I just assume Tesla will end up with a natural monopoly because they have so much more installed infrastructure than everyone else. Other companies are starting with exactly zero chargers with Tesla connectors, and Tesla's network was a lot bigger than anyone else's even neglecting connector type.

        Elon's not afraid of the legal system. ("I launch rockets into space, I'm not afraid of the FTC.") I assume at his level of wealth it's a toothless tiger.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Street signs

          "I just assume Tesla will end up with a natural monopoly because they have so much more installed infrastructure than everyone else. "

          In the US it can be truthfully stated that Tesla has more installed infrastructure than any other single charging company, but far fewer than all of the other charging companies taken as a whole. It can get very nuanced too if you want to count stalls vs. stations. If a good stopping point on a highway has one station with 50+ stalls, all of the businesses catering to travelers within a short walking distance are going to be maxed at certain times of day so that station is less desirable than another one on the other side of town with 10 stalls where places to eat won't be completely slammed around lunch time. Tesla keeps building stations with higher and higher stall counts likely to save money on all of the approvals, permits and inspections. If the power company has to be persuaded to bring in more power, it might also be cheaper to do that at one large station vs. 3-4 smaller ones spaced around town. Tesla will brag about having the largest stations, but it's just spin to cover up the real reason in that it was cheaper to do it that way, saving money per installed charging stand.

          For EV owners, it's arguably better to have more stations with fewer stalls than vice versa.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Street signs

          "I assume at his level of wealth it's a toothless tiger."

          Perceived wealth. Elon is believed to be highly leveraged and his "wealth" is heavily dependent on how much Tesla stock is trading at on a particular day.

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