Elon Musk Has Convinced Detroit Auto Giants to Adopt Tesla’s EV Standards

Ford CEO Jim Farley calls it "totally ridiculous" that "we can’t even agree on what plug to use."

Elon Musk, Mary Barra and Jim Farley
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, GM CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Jim Farley. Getty Images

Detroit’s traditional auto giants are embracing Tesla (TSLA)’s technology instead of trying to beat it. Within two weeks, General Motors and Ford both inked a partnership with Tesla to use its electric vehicle charging network and adopt its charging standards in North America. Both deals were announced during Twitter Spaces meetings hosted by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

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The two partnerships will simplify the charging process for owners of GM and Ford electric cars. Starting next year, they will be able to access 12,000 of Tesla’s superchargers in the U.S. and Canada using an adapter. Tesla’s U.S. superchargers use a special charging plug that’s incompatible with most other automakers.

Under the deals, starting in 2025 GM and Ford will also begin installing a charging port used by Tesla called NACS (North American Charging Standard) instead of the current industry-standard CCS (Combined Charging System) in their EVs.

GM and Ford CEOs are eager for a unified charging standard

GM’s switch to Tesla charging standards marks a key moment for the EV industry. Just weeks ago, the automaker was working with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), a global engineering group, to develop an open connector standard for CCS.

But CEO Mary Barra “couldn’t be more excited” about the 180-degree strategic turn, she said during a Twitter Spaces meeting with Musk yesterday (June 8).

“This is the most exciting time when we look at this transformation to EVs,” Barra said. “I think we have a real opportunity here to really drive this to be the unified standard for North America, which I think will even enable more mass adoption.”

During an earlier Twitter Spaces meeting on May 25 announcing the Ford partnership, Ford CEO Jim Farley said his company is “totally committed” to a single U.S. charging protocol.

“It seems totally ridiculous that we have an infrastructure problem, and we can’t even agree on what plug to use,” Farley said. “I think the first step is to work together in a way we haven’t, probably with the new EV brands and the traditional auto companies.”

“These partnerships are a win for all parties involved,” Jing Nealis, CFO of SES AI, a Boston-based EV battery company with a development agreement with GM, told Observer. “Tesla will benefit enormously from the customer bases of GM and Ford—two of the most iconic American car brands recognized globally…and GM and Ford will benefit from end-to-end EV infrastructure.”

During yesterday’s meeting, Musk called Tesla’s charging deals with GM and Ford “one of the great inflection points” for the EV industry.

Musk, a vocal advocate for open standards and patent-sharing, tweeted on June 5 that Tesla is also open to licensing its self-driving software and other EV technologies to rival automakers.

“Tesla aspires to be as helpful as possible to other car companies,” he said in the tweet.

Elon Musk Has Convinced Detroit Auto Giants to Adopt Tesla’s EV Standards