General Motors has announced its decision to adopt Tesla’s North American charging plug standard, following in the footsteps of Ford. This move solidifies a common charging hardware standard among three of the leading electric vehicle (EV) sellers in the North American market. Under this agreement, GM electric-vehicle buyers will gain access to the extensive Tesla Supercharger network.
During a Twitter Spaces event, GM CEO Mary Barra and Tesla chief Elon Musk made the announcement. This development poses a challenge to the Biden administration’s direction, which mandates the adoption of a rival “combined charging system” (CCS) standard to qualify for federal subsidies for new charging stations on major roadways spanning 7,500 miles (12,070 km) in the country.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg mentioned in a May interview with CNBC, following the Ford-Tesla deal, that the industry is expected to converge on a single system eventually. In the meantime, the use of adapters would enable cross-compatibility between different charging standards.
Tesla, GM, and Ford collectively account for around 70% of current U.S. EV sales. The presence of varying EV charging connectors has been viewed by industry executives as a barrier to broader consumer adoption of electric vehicles. The alignment between these automakers is expected to be a positive development for the advancement of electric vehicles, according to both Musk and Barra.
Barra stated in an interview with CNBC that GM could potentially save $400 million through this agreement. From a consumer perspective, the deals with the Detroit automakers are seen as a win for Tesla, which invested heavily in its distinctive fast-charging stations across North America while other automakers relied on third parties for charging infrastructure.
Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy, approximately 60% of fast chargers in the United States and Canada are Superchargers. This significant development has the potential to motivate other automakers to embrace the Tesla standard, resulting in a departure from alternative charging standards.
Other automakers and independent charging network operators, who adopted the CCS standard, face pressure from the Tesla-GM-Ford alliance. The transition to Tesla’s standard may challenge established charging station manufacturers in the US that adhere to CCS standards. Nonetheless, other charging providers can continue using the CCS standard with adapters for Tesla, Ford, and GM vehicles.
Following the agreement, GM has announced plans to equip its EVs with connectors based on the Tesla North American Charging Standard design, starting in 2025. As for current GM EV owners, they will have access to 12,000 Tesla fast chargers in North America next year, with adapters being made available.
Musk emphasized that Tesla will not show preferential treatment towards its own vehicles as more rival brands gain access to the Supercharger network. He highlighted the importance of advancing the electric vehicle revolution and ensuring an equal playing field.