Ford’s EV charging deal with Tesla puts pressure on GM and other rival automakers
DETROIT – A surprise deal between ford engine and tesla in electric vehicle charging technology and infrastructure could put new pressure on the EV strategies of other automakers.
The union between the two rivals will give Ford owners access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers in the US and Canada, starting early next year. More importantly, Ford’s next generation of electric vehicles, expected in the middle of the decade, will use Tesla’s charging plug, allowing Ford vehicle owners to charge at Tesla Superchargers without an adapter.
The agreement will make Ford among the first automakers to explicitly link to the network.
Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the deal Thursday during a live audio discussion at Twitter Spaces. On Friday morning, Farley acknowledged that the merger would create challenges for Ford’s rivals.
“I think GM and others are going to have to make a big decision,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Farley’s comments referenced which EV plug should be standard for charging in the US. A charger known as a CCS is the industry standard now. Tesla vehicles and their Supercharger network use what is known as NACS. Other vehicles can use both, but need an adapter.
“CCS is a great standard, but it was largely done by some kind of committee, and I think GM and others are going to have to make a big decision,” Farley told CNBC. “Do you want to have fast charging for customers? Or do you want to stick to your standard and have less charging?
Ford shares rose more than 7% in trading on Friday, above $12 a share. Tesla shares rose more than 5%, topping $194 per share.
The Ford-Tesla deal could be negative in the short term for GM and other automakers that don’t have access to as many fast chargers, which are seen as crucial to expanding EV adoption, said Tom Narayan, an analyst at RBC Capital.
“The news is obviously positive for Ford stock today (and potentially negative in the short term for GM/STLA), but ultimately, we think this should be seen as Tesla playing the long game,” Narayan said in a note to investors on Friday.
Tesla says it has approximately 45,000 Supercharger connectors around the world at 4,947 Supercharger Stations. The company doesn’t break out how many there are in the US. The US Department of Energy reports that the country only has about 5,300 CCS fast chargers.
general motorsWithout specifically addressing Farley’s comments, he said he “believes that open charging networks and standards are the best way forward to enable industry-wide adoption of electric vehicles.” GM said it is working with a group of companies and the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop and continue to refine an open connector standard for CCS, which it said was important to “building an open fast-charging network in North America.” .
The Detroit automaker announced several partnerships with EV charging providers and pushed for more federal support for such infrastructure.
Stellantis, which Narayan mentioned as another company that could feel the effects of the Ford-Tesla deal, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ford is “fully committed” to a single US charging protocol that includes Tesla’s plug port, Farley said Thursday.
Musk, in announcing the deal with Farley, hinted that other automakers could use the Tesla Supercharger network and the company’s loading ports.
“Working with Ford, and perhaps others, can make it the North American standard, I think consumers will be much better off because of it,” Musk said Thursday.
An all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E at a Tesla Supercharger charging station.
Tesla previously discussed opening up its private network to other electric vehicles. White House officials announced in February that Tesla committed to opening 7,500 of its charging stations to non-Tesla EV drivers by the end of 2024.
Public electric vehicle charging is a huge concern for potential buyers, and no other automaker aside from Tesla has successfully built its own network. Instead, they have advertised partnerships with third-party companies that have often proven unreliable and frustrating for owners.
Most American drivers log vehicle miles from their home to nearby locations. But EV buyers who want to take longer road trips, or who don’t have access to a garage with a charger, often worry about access to reliable public charging.
The problem is getting worse: At least one in five charging attempts by drivers failed last year, according to a study on public charge published earlier this year by JD Power.
Tesla’s superchargers were ranked the best in overall customer satisfaction, according to a separate new study from JD Power.
wall street bullish
Wolfe Research analyst Rod Lache called the deal a “win-win” as it more than doubles Ford customers’ access to fast chargers and increases Tesla’s network utilization.
“For Ford, access to Tesla’s network helps solve a significant problem for its electric vehicle customers who may otherwise have to use third-party charging providers,” it said in a note to investors on Friday. “For Tesla, meanwhile, adding Ford customers will help boost network utilization, a key driver of profitability.”
Jim Farley and Elon Musk
The deal is a big boost in access to fast chargers for Ford and its customers, Morningstar analyst David Whiston said. He added that it “puts some pressure on other legacy automakers, but if you’re someone like GM, I don’t think you should panic.”
Whiston said he would like to know more about the deal, such as cost, length and other details that were not announced.
A Ford spokesperson said more information about the deal will be announced closer to the opening of Tesla Chargers to Ford owners early next year.
–CNBC miguel flower, lora kolodni and John Rosevear contributed to this report.