Ford to use Tesla EV charging tech in partnership between rivals

Ford to use Tesla EV charging tech in partnership between rivals

DETROIT – Ford engine will work with Tesla on charging initiatives for its current and future electric vehicles in an unusual collaboration between the two rivals, the automakers’ CEOs announced on Thursday.

Under the terms of the agreement, starting early next year, current Ford owners will have access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers in the US and Canada via the use of an adapter. And Ford’s next generation of electric vehicles — expected by mid-decade — will feature Tesla’s charging connector, which will allow Ford vehicle owners to charge on Tesla superchargers without adapters. This makes Ford one of the first car manufacturers to explicitly connect to the network.

The initiatives were announced by Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a live audio discussion on Twitter Spaces. They come at a time when Ford is trying to ramp up production of its all-electric vehicles in a bid to catch up with, and one day surpass, Tesla’s sales in that segment.

While Tesla still dominates the EV sector by a wide margin, Ford ranked second in all-electric vehicle sales in the U.S. last year, with 61,575 EVs sold.

Farley said the company is “completely committed” to a single US charging protocol that includes the Tesla plug connector, known as NACS. It’s unclear if Ford’s next-generation EVs will retain the charging ports found on current models, known as CCS. A Ford spokesman said the company “has that option available but has no news to announce today.”

Another Ford spokesman told CNBC that charging prices “will be competitive in the market.” The companies will announce further details shortly before the projected launch date in 2024.

Tesla has already talked about opening up its private network to other electric vehicles. White House officials announced in February that Tesla had committed to opening 7,500 of its charging stations to non-Tesla EV drivers by the end of 2024. Previously, the company’s chargers were primarily used by and compatible with Tesla’s electric vehicles in the US.

In Tesla’s Q1 shareholder presentation, the company announced that it has approximately 45,000 Supercharger connections at 4,947 Supercharger stations worldwide. The company does not disclose chargers by country or revenue from the devices. Revenue from the Supercharger stations is included in the Services and Other segment.

Thursday’s Twitter Spaces event between Farley and Musk marked the latest interaction between the two executives, who share a unique rivalry. They have expressed admiration for one another even though their companies are in direct competition.

Ford clearly beat Tesla in the pickup segment with production of its F-150 Lightning, the electric version of its consistently popular trucks, in April 2022. Ford also heavily priced the Tesla Model Y for its Mustang Mach-E crossover, following Tesla in price cuts in electric crossovers.

But Musk, who runs Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter, has repeatedly hailed Ford as a historic American company and its ability to avoid bankruptcy, unlike its city-wide rivals General Motors and Chrysler during the Great Recession.

Such flattery was rife during Thursday’s call: “I’m really pleased to be working with Elon and his team for our industry and for Ford customers,” Farley said. Musk later returned those sentiments: “It’s an honor to work with a great company like Ford,” he said.

Farley nudged Musk a little and asked about the long-delayed new version of the company’s first vehicle, the Roadster. Musk already announced a revision of the roadster in autumn 2017. Among other things, it promised a range of 620 miles per charge and three engines.

Today, on Thursday, he reiterated that the new version of the roadster isn’t even fully designed yet.

Earlier Thursday, Farley praised Tesla for its charging network during a Morgan Stanley conference, saying that while Ford has developed its own charging products for its commercial customers, automakers should consider collaborating on charging infrastructure for the general public.

“It seems utterly ridiculous that we have an infrastructure issue and can’t even agree on which connector to use,” Farley said, noting that Tesla’s charging connector is different than other automakers’. “I think the first step is to work together in a way that we haven’t done before, probably with the new EV brands and the traditional car companies.”