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Ford’s EV charging deal with Tesla puts pressure on GM, other rival automakers


DETROIT – A surprise deal between Ford Motor and Tesla on electric vehicle charging technology and infrastructure could put new pressure on other automakers’ EV strategies.

The tie-up between the two rivals will give Ford owners access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada, starting early next year. More importantly, Ford’s next generation of EVs — expected by mid-decade — will use Tesla’s charging plug, allowing owners of Ford vehicles to charge at Tesla Superchargers without an adapter.

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The agreement will make Ford among the first automakers to explicitly tie into the network.

Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the deal Thursday during a live audio discussion on Twitter Spaces. On Friday morning, Farley acknowledged the tie-up would create challenges for Ford’s rivals.

“I think GM and others are going to have a big choice to make,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Farley’s comments referenced which EV plug should be standard for charging in the U.S. A charger known as CCS is the industry norm now. Tesla vehicles and its Supercharger network use what’s known as NACS. Other vehicles can use both, but they need an adapter.

“The CCS is a great standard, but it was pretty much done by kind of a committee, and I think GM and others are going to have a big choice to make,” Farley told CNBC. “Do they want to have fast charging for customers? Or do they want to stick to their standard and have less charging?

Ford’s stock rose by 6.2% Friday, closing at $12.09 per share. Tesla’s shares also climbed 4.7% Friday, ending the week at $193.17.

Watch CNBC's full interview with Ford CEO Jim Farley

The Ford-Tesla deal could be a near-term negative for GM, Stellantis and other automakers that don’t have access to as many fast chargers, which are considered crucial to expand EV adoption, said RBC Capital analyst Tom Narayan

“The news is obviously a positive for Ford shares today (and potentially near term negative for GM/STLA), but ultimately, we think this should be viewed as Tesla playing the long game,” Narayan said in a Friday investor note.

Tesla says it has roughly 45,000 Supercharger connectors worldwide at 4,947 Supercharger Stations. The company does not break out how many are in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Energy reports the country only has about 5,300 CCS fast chargers.

General Motors, without specifically addressing Farley’s comments, said Friday it “believes that open charging networks and standards are the best way forward to enable EV adoption across the industry.” GM said it is working with a group of companies and SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, to develop and continue to refine an open connector standard for CCS, which it said was important for “the buildout of an open network of fast charging across North America.”

The Detroit automaker has announced several partnerships with EV charging providers and lobbied for more federal support for such infrastructure.

‘Totally committed’

Ford is “totally committed” to a single U.S. charging protocol that includes the Tesla plug port, Farley said Thursday.

Musk, when announcing the deal with Farley, alluded to other automakers being able to use the Tesla Supercharger network and the company’s charging ports.

“Working with Ford, and perhaps others, can make it the North American standard, I think that consumers will be all better for it,” Musk said Thursday.

An all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E at a Tesla Supercharger station charging.

Ford

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’s utilization.

“For Ford, access to Tesla’s network helps solve a major pain-point for their EV customers, who otherwise have to use third-party charging providers,” he said in a Friday investor note. “Meanwhile, for Tesla, adding Ford customers will help boost network utilization, a key driver of profitability.”

Jim Farley and Elon Musk

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