November 22, 2023

The Tipping Point in EV Charging Standards: What Consumers Need to Know


6 Min. Read

A major change is coming to the EV market. Automakers are in the process of adopting the North American Charging Standard (NACS), a plug that supports AC and DC charging.

This new standard represents a strategic and susbtantial shift within the EV market and could be one of the most significant shifts in the EV market in recent years.

While there are many factors impacting this transition and automakers reasons for adopting NACS, this change will address the lack of standardized charging infrastructure and work towards improving charging accessibility across North America—something that has long been one of the greatest challenges facing the electrification movement.

Let’s take a closer look at how this significant shift in EV charging standards could impact EV ownership and EV charging.

The Transition to NACS

EV owners already had access to a standardized plug with the J1772 charging protocol being used by most American manufacturers. The J1772 plug supports AC charging, including Level 1 charging at 120V and faster Level 2 charging at 240V.

However, the EV market has been fragmented when it comes to DC Fast charging, which allows for much faster charging speeds. Combined Charging System Type 1 (CCS1) plugs are common for DC charging, but you can still find a handful of Asian automakers offering vehicles with CHAdeMO plugs, while Tesla has differentiated itself with its proprietary plug compatible with the automaker’s Supercharger network.

In November 2022, Tesla made their proprietary charging protocol public, introducing NACS. It quickly became the new go-to standard for the automakers behind 75% of EVs on the road. Several public charging operators have also announced their plans to incorporate this standard into their existing infrastructure.

As a current EV owner, using an adapter will become necessary to access NACS public charging. If you’re considering an EV purchase, you might want to think about waiting until the 2025 lineup to get a NACS vehicle for convenience, although many automakers are now including adapters with their vehicles to ease EV drivers through this transition.

Consumer Adaptation Challenges

For EV owners with an existing at-home Level 2 charging station, charging an older vehicle with a J1772 plug remains an option. A newer NACS EV will also be compatible with an existing charging station via an adapter.

However, EV owners should consider upgrading their at-home charging equipment with a NACS-compatible station when the time to purchase a new EV comes.

For prospective owners, waiting until the 2025 lineup that will introduce NACS vehicles on a large scale might be a good option. However, pricing fluctuations could appear as buyers delay their purchase until 2025, and EVs that don’t support NACS charging might come with a lower price tag.

The NACS protocol will also transform public charging. The infrastructure is growing at a fast pace between major federal and state-wide investments and a joint partnership between seven major automakers to add over 30,000 EV chargers to the public charging infrastructure across the U.S.

Newer projects will integrate NACS charging, while older stations will require an upgrade and EV drivers will likely need to rely on adapters to take full advantage of all available public charging options as this transition occurs.

Impact on Rebate Programs

For many residential and commercial electrification projects, rebates play an important role in helping offset upfront costs. Shifting to the NACS standard will have a limited impact on these programs.

For prospective EV owners, there is a federal credit of up to $7,500 on new vehicles and up to $4,000 on used EVs, in addition to many state, municipal, and utility incentives for purchasing an electric vehicle or charging equipment, and many also offer funding toward general home electrification and EV charger installation services. However, these credits often depend on several factors, including the buyer’s income as well as various battery and sourcing requirements for the vehicle, so it’s best to do your research in advance to ensure your purchases and plans will meet all program and eligibility requirements. It’s unclear which 2025 models with NACS will qualify at this time, so if you are planning to purchase an EV with these incentives, be sure you verify it qualifies for the program prior to purchasing the vehicle.

A majority of programs offered at the state, municipal, or utility level don’t have any language that requires a specific charging standard for residential or commercial EV charging station installations, ensuring that consumers and businesses will be able to continue taking advantage of these programs, and it’s likely that the handful of programs that specifically mention J1772 charging will update their language to reflect this shift in EV charging standards.

Public charging is a different matter. Many of these projects receive funding through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, which requires projects to include at least one permanent CCS1 connector for DC Fast charging and at least one permanent J1772 plug for Level 2 charging. While these are the current program requirements, this may change as NACS becomes more prominent and demand continues to rise.

That said, the language doesn’t exclude NACS connectors, which means EV owners will likely have access to a growing number of public charging stations that offer different plugs.

Future of EV Charging for Consumers

The adoption of the NACS charging standard will be beneficial for consumers. These compact plugs are easy to connect and can support a total output of up to 900 kW, which is significantly higher than the maximum output of 500 kW supported by CCS1 connectors.

As more automakers release NACS EVs, charging uniformity will increase, and EV owners will have the benefit of backward compatibility with CCS and J1772 connectors with a simple adapter.

As a result, NACS EV owners will have access to more than 161,000 existing public charging stations, over 1,800 Tesla Supercharger locations, and 30,000 new public stations planned by major automakers.

Plus, access to a uniform charging standard with the potential to outperform CCS1 charging could boost EV adoption and result in registration numbers that exceed current projections, predicting that 40% of passenger cars will be EVs by 2030.

Planning for the New Charging Standard

This shift in EV charging can feel confusing, but it has a limited impact on access to charging since adapters will easily allow EV owners to connect old vehicles to the new infrastructure regardless of the vehicle they drive, and NACS EVs will also remain compatible with older stations via adapters.

However, adopting NACS charging has several benefits, including convenience and improved performance, and charging at home remains the most cost-effective and convenient charging option available. There’s a reason why more than 80% of EV drivers prefer installing an at-home EV charger, but finding a qualified EV charger installer can be challenging—and not all electricians are experienced with this technology.

Qmerit can help. With the largest network of certified electricians and electrical contractors skilled in EV charging station installations and other electrification technologies in North America, you can find peace of mind in knowing your EV charger will be properly and safely installed, protecting your investment and your home for years to come.

With over 269,000 successful EV charger installations, our licensed and experienced installers can assess your unique needs and help you plan your EV charging project as you navigate charging standards and determine if an upgrade makes sense for you.

Getting started with your EV charging station installation can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Contact Qmerit today for a seamless electrification experience as you make the most of your electric vehicle with at-home EV charging.

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network