While I know it’s usually rude to say, “I told you so,” it’s exciting to see the EV charging world evolving as Nxu predicted it would. I’m referring to the adoption of the NACS (North American Charging Standard) by major OEMs like Ford and GM as their preferred solution for EV charging.
This is Nxu’s take on what’s happening:
RELIABILITY & QUALITY
The North American Charging Standard or NACS was developed by and is owned by Tesla. When electric vehicles first started charging, SAE J1772 was just for AC charging. One of the first vehicles to come out was made by Nissan who used a different standard (like the Tesla did when they came out) known as CHAdeMO. Due to that there were two ports on the Nissan Leaf: CHAdeMO and the AC charge Port J1772 (the J plug, as some people call it).
When American companies like Chevy came out, they didn't want to use what Japan created, so they’ve upgraded J1772 with (Combined Charge System) CCS on top of the J1772 standard. In retrospect, I think it was rushed, but it filled the void that was there. It ended up destroying or taking over CHAdeMO so CHAdeMO is now the way of the dinosaurs.
Fast forward to today…
The issue with CCS today (fast forward five to 10 years later), after CCS has become the dominant standard across the US, is reliability. I believe the reason for the lack of reliability is that manufacturers do not own their product, meaning they sell them to a third party. The third party becomes the de facto responsibility of maintaining the equipment. So, you start to have equipment like Electrify America's stuff that starts to break, and they do little to fix it.
On the flipside, Tesla has high reliability. The reason is Tesla owns it and maintains their own equipment. But there is a caveat to it, and the caveat is that Tesla vehicles work well with Tesla charging stations because there is no interoperability, meaning that Tesla designs the inlet and Tesla designs the handle, hence the quality of the product is very good. But with CCS it is not the same. GM designs their own inlet for designs, their own inlet. And you have the other companies like ITT, Amphenol, Brugg, Phoenix Context – they all design their own handles. So, the issue here is you might have a Phoenix Context handle connected with an Amphenol Inlet -- and that's the term interoperability. They might have different tolerances because those tolerances lead to failures, and those failures end up propagating and destroying equipment… it's like a virus.
So, by GM and Ford agreeing to go to the NACS standard, or the Tesla standard, it allows them to insure a reliable network and quality.
You don't have the interoperability issue because they're going to be using Tesla's provider who manufactures that equipment.
So, then fast forward, CCS is capped. Right now, the standard is written up to 350 KW but, today, Nxu is doing 700KW+ although there are no vehicles that can take it. Tesla is claiming that they can also match and do one megawatt worth of charging capability, although they haven't proven it yet because the Tesla semi-truck is using an older MCS standard. And you don't hear people talking about that. Although there are plans to consolidate into the V4 NACS plug.
Nxu’s take on it is, from the conversation with Annie and Mark, is that it is going to lag five to 10 years from now when vehicles can go to megawatt-plus capabilities. There is nothing yet that can handle that.
There is only the NACS, which is turning CCS into the way of CHAdeMO, that is slowly coming up to speed to doing megawatt, but then again. They are at least years away.
THE FUTURE OF MEGAWATT CHARGING
Many months back, Nxu introduced our own charge handle and charge cable and Inlet. We still believe it is the standard of the future.
The vehicles that are marketed today, the light-duty vehicles have small battery packs or less than 100 KW hour battery packs and don’t need megawatt to charge quickly, granted their C-rate. The battery packs can’t charge that quickly anyway. The medium heavy-duty vehicles that are coming into the market are going to have much larger battery packs, 100-kilowatt hour plus, and they're going to need the capability of pushing a large amount of current into those packs. This is the solution for mass market adoption across multiple segments which advances megawatt forward and allows interoperability.
The older standards are dying and the new standards that these manufacturers are keeping up with are a good advancement, but not future proof. And Nxu is designing our equipment to be megawatt-plus compatible as well as interoperable. In designing our megawatt charging system, we saw a clear void in the market. And we were right all along.