SAE to Standardize Tesla NACS Charging Connector

As more EV makers turn to the Tesla-developed connector, SAE will assist with standardization of its design.

A European-specification EV using the SAE Standard J1772 charging connector. (Stellantis)

SAE International confirmed today that it will standardize the Tesla-developed North American Charging Standard (NACS) charging connector for EVs. The global engineering organization that engages nearly 200,000 engineers, technical experts and volunteers said in a press release that it will work to help with deployment of the NACS connector, an alternative to the longstanding SAE J1772 Combined Charging System (CCS) connector, after Ford, General Motors and a number of EV public-charging equipment suppliers recently indicated they intend to adopt the NACS connector design.

Size comparison of Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) charge connector and the SAE J1773 Combined Charging System (CCS) connector. (Tesla)

“Standardizing the NACS connector will provide certainty, expanded choice, reliability and convenience to manufacturers and suppliers and, most of all, increase access to charging for consumers,” said Frank Menchaca, president of Sustainable Mobility Solutions, an innovation arm of SAE affiliate Fullsight. The organization in a statement credited the U.S.’s Joint Office of Energy and Transportation for fostering the SAE-Tesla partnership and “expediting plans to standardize NACS – an important step in building an interoperable national charging network that will work for all EV drivers.”

Ford announced in late May, 2023, that it would adopt the NACS charge connector and equip next-generation EVs with charge points to accept that connector; GM weeks later confirmed a similar strategy. SAE said that the standardization process is the next step to establish a consensus-based approach “for maintaining NACS and validating its ability to meet performance and interoperability criteria.” Although Tesla dubbed the NACS connector a “standard,” it is not one that had been reached through industry consensus. The SAE standardization process is intended to assure reliable and consistent performance for any EV model or charging network.

“The new SAE NACS connector standard will be developed on an expedited timeframe,” the organization said, calling the arrangement one of several key initiatives to strengthen North America’s charging infrastructure, including the SAE-ITC’s Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for cyber-secure charging. SAE also said that in close cooperation with the U.S.’s network of National Laboratories, it also is contributing to charger reliability design for the national ChargeX consortium, which according to the U.S Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, has “commitments to participate” from more than a score of automotive OEMs and charging companies, including Ford, GM, Stellantis, BMW of North America, Electrify America, Chargepoint and EVgo.

“Taken together, these efforts will contribute substantially to SAE’s commitment to secure, clean and connected transportation, accessible to everyone,” said David L. Schutt, CEO, SAE International. “We’re delighted to do our part in aligning the excellent efforts of industry with those of government entities like the Joint Office to advance sustainable mobility on a national level.”