Ford partners with Tesla on electric vehicle charging initiatives

Ford has announced a partnership with Tesla, allowing its electric vehicle owners to use Tesla's Supercharger network starting next year, marking a major collaboration in the EV industry.
Daniel Lehewych
Tesla Building

Ford Motor Company has announced an unexpected alliance with Tesla Inc. to provide its electric vehicle (EV) owners access to Tesla's extensive Supercharger network. The CEOs of both auto giants revealed the plans during a live audio discussion on Twitter Spaces on Thursday.

According to the partnership, current Ford owners can use Tesla's over 12,000 Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada, starting early next year, with the help of an adapter. Ford's next wave of EVs, expected by mid-decade, will feature Tesla's charging plug, enabling Ford users to charge at Tesla Superchargers without an adapter. This integration makes Ford one of the earliest automakers to join Tesla's network explicitly.

The joint initiative was unveiled by Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk as part of Ford's efforts to boost its EV production and possibly rival Tesla's significant EV sales volume. Tesla is a dominant force in the EV sector, with Ford securing the second spot in U.S. fully electric vehicle sales last year, reporting 61,575 electric vehicles sold.

Farley stated the company is "totally committed" to a unified U.S. charging protocol, which includes the Tesla plug port, NACS. However, it remains to be seen if Ford's next-gen EVs will retain the charging ports seen on current models, known as CCS. A Ford spokesperson highlighted that while this option was available, there was "no news to share today."

A separate representative from Ford confirmed to CNBC that the pricing for charging "will be competitive in the marketplace," with additional details to be disclosed closer to the anticipated 2024 launch date.

How Tesla and Ford will come together for EVs

Earlier this year, Tesla intended to open its private network to other EVs. This move comes after Tesla pledged to the White House in February to make 7,500 charging stations available to non-Tesla EV drivers by the end of 2024. Until now, the company's U.S. chargers were primarily designed for and used by Tesla EVs.

Despite their direct competition, both Farley and Musk have displayed mutual admiration. For example, Ford secured a win in the EV pickup segment with the production of its F-150 Lightning in April 2022 and followed Tesla's lead in cutting the price of its Mustang Mach-E crossover. On the other hand, Musk has commended Ford's ability to avoid bankruptcy during the Great Recession, distinguishing it from its Detroit rivals General Motors and Chrysler.

The Thursday call was cordial, with both CEOs excited about the collaboration. Farley said, "Working with Elon and his team, I'm excited for our industry and Ford customers," Musk replied, "It's an honor to be working with a great company like Ford."

Interestingly, Farley prodded Musk about the much-anticipated Roadster refresh, initially teased in 2017. Musk responded by noting that the new version of the Roadster must still be fully designed.

On a concluding note, Farley stressed the importance of collaboration on charging infrastructure for the general public during a Morgan Stanley conference, saying that it was "totally ridiculous" that automakers couldn't agree on a standard plug. The move towards a joint pin is the first step towards that collaboration.

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