U.S. May Update EV Charging Subsidy Rules To Include Tesla’s NACS

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With almost every car brand in the U.S. jumping on the Tesla NACS bandwagon for their electric vehicles (EVs), it’s high time the government takes a second look at how it dishes out subsidies for speedy EV chargers.

This Tuesday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) made it clear they’re ready to roll up their sleeves. They’re opening the floor for comments on tweaking the rules for the hefty chunk of cash from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. Why? Because NACS is shaping up to be the next superstar in the EV arena.

The recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and NEVI plan earmark $7.5 billion to boost EV charging networks in the U.S. Yet, snagging these subsidies means meeting specific criteria, one being a must-have CCS connector for EVSE installations. Here’s the twist: Tesla’s NACS connector was deemed proprietary, causing a hiccup.

In 2022, feeling the heat, Tesla broke the mold and spilled the beans on its charging standard specs. Fast forward six months, Ford hopped on board, announcing its plan to adopt Tesla’s NACS charging inlet. This move triggered a chain reaction in the auto industry. Now, big names like Volkswagen are ditching CCS for NACS in their upcoming rides.

Adding to the buzz, SAE International dropped a Technical Information Report on NACS (J3400) recently, pushing the standard one step closer to the official industry nod. The U.S. Joint Office of Energy and Transportation chimed in, giving a nod to this crucial milestone, earning applause from the Biden administration. It looks like the EV charging game is changing lanes, and NACS is steering the wheel.

The recent guidelines for federally funded chargers, set by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) earlier this year, were crafted to be adaptable, leaving room for innovation and additional connector types. With various automakers expressing their intent to use NACS, it became evident that an independently administered standard for the connector was needed to ensure a smooth and interoperable charging experience. Collaborating with SAE International, a leader in automotive standards, the Joint Office expedited the standardization process at an unprecedented pace.

FHWA’s call for feedback is a pivotal step in refining the minimum requirements of the program. This ensures that the standards remain flexible, accommodating potential shifts such as incorporating both CCS and NACS/J3400 during the funding period.

Interestingly, this could mean Tesla is in line to receive substantial funding, potentially up to $7.5 billion across the U.S., to expand its charging network, similar to other companies deploying CCS chargers under the current requirements.

Enhanced access to chargers is a positive development for EV adoption. Despite some automakers scaling back on EV production, the U.S. government is steadfast in implementing rules that will reshape how manufacturers meet emissions requirements. Whether we embrace it or not, the era of EVs is approaching, and widespread charger accessibility will be crucial to its success.

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