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Tesla's Charging Network Is Having A Moment, But CCS Would Still Likely Be For The Best

The Biden administration said Friday that federal money could go to Tesla's chargers but only if they included the Combined Charging System, too.

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Photo: AP (AP)

Ford and Tesla said recently that Ford’s EVs would eventually be able to use Tesla’s charging network, which is the best in the industry in the United States. GM and Tesla said Thursday that GM’s EVs would eventually be able to do the same thing, perhaps because GM and Ford aren’t above trying to buddy up to Telsa CEO Elon Musk in order to engineer some short-term good news. For both Ford and GM this means making their EVs Supercharger-ready or adaptable, though most of the rest of the world seems to prefer the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard, as Teslas are equipped with in Europe.

The United States federal government prefers CCS, too, probably because it’s preferred by virtually every other EV maker that isn’t Tesla, and because having a common charging standard makes it easier to build out a national charging network, because America is switching to EVs, too, kicking and screaming. You might think that two of the American Big Three aligning with Tesla could change some minds at the White House in this regard but, according to a Reuters story on Friday, no, because that would make no sense.

The White House on Friday said electric vehicle charging stations using Tesla standard plugs would be eligible for billions of dollars in federal subsidies as long as they included the national CCS charging standard connection as well.


This is the first time the Biden administration has directly connected Tesla to its efforts to spend up to $7.5 billion to build new, high-speed chargers on some 7,500 miles of the nation’s busiest highways.


“Earlier this year, we developed minimum standards to ensure publicly funded EV charging is accessible, reliable, and affordable for all drivers, and we required interoperability to promote competition. Those standards give flexibility for adding both CCS and [North American Charging Standard, or Tesla’s], as long as drivers can count on a minimum of CCS,” White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said in statement to Reuters.


Now, CCS is not without its own growing pains in America, because we still have not quite fully committed to the bit of electric cars, but that is more of an America thing than a problem with CCS specifically, which Europe uses quite well.

Perhaps relevant here is comparing the EV charging situation to cell phone charging, a space in which, for example, Apple insists on their proprietary Lightning connector for iPhones in the U.S. while the rest of the world insists that USB-C is faster, simpler, more universally recognized, and just better.


It’s American exceptionalism at its finest, in other words, so I guess it’s not so surprising to see GM and Ford go with Tesla in the EV charging space, too. Maybe it doesn’t matter, either, because it’s unusual to travel overseas with one’s EV, unlike one’s phone. Still, these things come in iterations and there will be another better, faster, smarter charging thing after CCS and Superchargers, in a decade or so, by which time in the States we’ll probably all have an assortment of giant dongles in the trunks of our EVs that won’t be irritating at all. Maybe one day we’ll settle on a single charging standard, and maybe that one is one the rest of the world uses, too.