Hyundai and Kia to join NACS

East Asian firms’ US EVs are the latest domino to fall to Tesla standard

Hyundai and Kia to join NACS
Yet more OEMS, even those planning their own initiatives, are gatecrashing the supercharger party

South Korean OEM Hyundai and its affiliates Kia and Genesis’ US EVs will be made compatible with Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) beginning in the fourth quarter of 2024, with the Canadian vehicles set to follow in 2025.

Hyundai says that the decision will double the number of chargers available to its North American EV customers, who will gain access to 12,000 Tesla superchargers across North America. The group’s first EVs with in-built NACS compatibility will roll out in the first quarter of 2025, but existing Hyundai Group EV customers will also have the option to buy a CCS-NACS adapter from 2025.

Hyundai is the latest EV manufacturer in an increasingly long list to adopt NACS charging, which is becoming the de facto industry standard. The OEM joins ranks including US OEMs Ford, Rivian and Fisker, Sweden’s Volvo and Polestar, and Japan’s Nissan.

But Hyundai and Kia are also in a group with Germany’s Mercedes, US OEM GM and Japan’s Honda that have signed NACS deals but also announced in July that they were joining a coalition of seven automakers to construct its own DC fast charging network. The South Korean group argues that there is no conflict in this.

“This new alliance will provide Hyundai EV owners confidence in their ability to conveniently charge their vehicles and complements our joint venture company to create a new, high-powered charging network with at least 30,000 stations across North America,” the firm says.

CCS woes

The main competitor for Tesla’s NACS is the Combined Charging Standard (CCS), which has long been dogged by reliability issues. According to live data from the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Centre, there are currently 474 CCS charging stations classed as temporarily unavailable in the US out of a total of 12,919. This is compared to just eleven out of 32,045 NACS charging ports across the US which are unavailable.

“In North America the difference between charging on CCS chargers on an EV and Tesla superchargers with a Tesla is like stepping from a Ford Motor Company Model T to a Rimac. The difference is truly that great in reliability, usability and overall customer experience,” says industry expert James Carter.

However, while a slate of OEMs has announced that their cars will be made compatible with NACS charging, none of the competitors’ vehicles have yet been produced with this cross-compatibility. As such, it is not known if Tesla’s charging network will be as reliable with other manufacturers’ EVs as it is with its own.

However, the reliability issues for CCS are not only down to software or hardware issues with the connectors themselves. Many CCS stations were built with government subsidies, and as such were installed without compelling business cases to incentivise operators to invest in their maintenance and reliability.

“It is worth noting that the pure CCS Type 1 design for North America was never really the problem. It was the operational aspect of usability, location, integration, and maintenance by third parties,” Carter suggests.

The industry-wide shift towards NACS, including German legacy firm VW’s decision to add Tesla chargers to its Electrify America network in June, leaves Germany’s BMW, Franco-Italian automaker Stellantis and Japan’s Toyota as the only major OEMs still resisting Tesla’s charging IP. BMW and Stellantis are the two other members of the coalition formed in July, but Toyota is not.

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