Ford Motor and Tesla have announced a surprise deal on electric vehicle (EV) charging technology and infrastructure that could put new pressure on other automakers’ EV strategies. The agreement will allow Ford owners access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the US and Canada from early next year. Moreover, Ford’s next generation of EVs will use Tesla’s charging plug, allowing owners of Ford vehicles to charge at Tesla Superchargers without an adapter. The agreement makes Ford one of the first automakers to explicitly tie into the network.
Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the deal during a live audio discussion on Twitter Spaces. Farley acknowledged that the tie-up would create challenges for Ford’s rivals, stating that “I think GM and others are going to have a big choice to make.” Farley’s comments referenced the EV plug that should be standard for charging in the US. A charger known as CCS is the industry norm now. Tesla vehicles and its Supercharger network use what’s known as NACS. Other vehicles can use both, but they need an adapter.
The Ford-Tesla deal could be a near-term negative for GM and other automakers that don’t have access to as many fast chargers, which are considered crucial to expand EV adoption, said RBC Capital analyst Tom Narayan. Tesla says it has roughly 45,000 Supercharger connectors worldwide at 4,947 Supercharger Stations, whereas the US Department of Energy reports the country only has about 5,300 CCS fast chargers.
General Motors, without specifically addressing Farley’s comments, said Friday that it “believes that open charging networks and standards are the best way forward to enable EV adoption across the industry.” GM said it is working with a group of companies and the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop and continue to refine an open connector standard for CCS, which it said was important for “the buildout of an open network of fast charging across North America.”
Public charging of electric vehicles is a major concern for potential buyers, and no automaker other than Tesla has successfully built out its own network. Instead, they’ve announced partnerships with third-party companies that have often proven unreliable and frustrating to owners. Most US drivers log vehicle miles from home to locations nearby. But EV buyers who want to take longer road trips, or who do not have access to a garage with a charger, often worry about access to reliable, public charging.
The Ford-Tesla deal could be a major boost for access to fast chargers for Ford and its customers, according to Morningstar analyst David Whiston. He added that it “puts some pressure on other legacy automakers but if you are someone like GM, I don’t think you need to panic.” Wolfe Research analyst Rod Lache called the deal a “win-win,” as it more than doubles Ford customers’ access to fast chargers and increases Tesla’s network utilization.
The deal between Ford and Tesla marks a significant step forward in the EV industry, as it allows Ford to tap into Tesla’s well-established charging infrastructure. The partnership could also put pressure on other automakers to reconsider their EV charging strategies. Tesla’s Superchargers were ranked the best for overall customer satisfaction, according to a new study from J.D. Power, indicating that the partnership could be a game-changer for Ford.
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