NACS: What is it, and what does it mean for North American EV drivers?

  • NACS (North American Charging Standard) is emerging as the preferred charging standard for EVs in North America, replacing CCS1.
  • Mercedes-Benz joins manufacturers like Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Volvo and Polestar in the connector transition.
  • Some manufacturers have concerns about the connector’s capability to handle fast-charging high-voltage battery systems.

Mercedes-Benz becomes the latest manufacturer to embrace NACS

With the increased growth of global EV sales, the North American EV industry has set its sights on standardisation.

Several contenders have emerged, namely the Combined Charging System (CCS1). However, the North American Charging Standard (NACS) has become a clear front-runner in recent months.

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Tesla has used NACS, previously known as the Tesla charging connector, since as early as 2012.

Tesla made a huge early investment in US EV infrastructure by building a coast-to-coast network. Having now grown into the Tesla Supercharger Network, it is still the largest and most easily accessible network in the US with over 1,700 locations. All of this, united under one charging connector.

The NACS name was coined in November 2022, aligning with Tesla’s decision to make their network available to other EV manufacturers. This decision was designed to encourage collaboration rather than competition over charging, making the North American EV transition far smoother.


Leading manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Volvo, and Polestar have announced their plans to shift from CCS1 to NACS connectors. Mercedes-Benz has recently announced that its EV drivers can use Tesla Superchargers as of next year. By 2025, Mercedes-Benz plans to fully adopt NACS.

Furthermore, Tesla’s charging connector is anticipated to be standardised by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the near future. This collective shift will cement NACS as the only choice for North American EVs.

Challenges and Concerns

Despite the growing support, some manufacturers are hesitant to make the switch.

They express concerns about the capability of these chargers to handle fast-charging high-voltage battery systems. This issue affects manufacturers such as Lucid, Hyundai Motor Group, Audi, and Porsche. These manufacturers’ models host higher voltage batteries which may not fully utilise fast-charging capabilities at Tesla’s Superchargers.

The option, then, appears to be a design update from Tesla to answer these queries, or we begin to embrace the North American Charging Almost-Standard. Tesla, however, have announced the development of high-voltage NACS chargers within the next two years.

Building Charging Infrastructure

With NACS, the North American charging network is able to grow under one unified banner. Mercedes-Benz plans to build its own charging network with over 2,000 charging hubs globally by the end of the decade. This includes 400 in North America.

With standardised connectors, Mercedes-Benz’s charge points will add to the wider ecosystem, allowing collaborative growth across the region.

The transition from CCS1 to NACS charging connectors signifies a significant shift in the EV industry. NACS paves the way for a standardised and convenient charging experience for North American EV owners. Once the high-voltage kinks are ironed out, this could become the benchmark by which the rest of the world begins to measure its emobility success.

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