Tesla just fired its entire Supercharger division throwing BMW and MINI’s plans to use the network and NACS charging standard in disarray. What will happen next and how could it impact MINI’s future charging plans? Let’s take a closer look and dissect.

Last year the BMW Group had committed to integrating the North American Charging Standard (NACS) into its electric vehicle offerings across the United States and Canada, with implementation scheduled for 2025. This would also have granted usage of much of the Tesla Supercharger network.

That network is the real differentiator for Tesla in today’s EV landscape. It’s by far the best in the US and many parts of the world. And this week Tesla fired the entire team responsible for it and its future plans. Rumors point to Elon Musk making the decision with an element of spite. According to Electrek, the head of the Supercharging division was on board with the layoffs but fought back on the number that Musk wanted gone. He then decided to let go of the entire team as an example.

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U25 MINI Countryman SE

The ramifications for MINI and Others

The fallout as been swift. We’ve heard rumors that BMW and MINI is looking at option to change course and cancel plans to move to Tesla’s plug standard and even Supercharger access.

Interestingly BMW had recently announced a massive joint venture that would bring a staggering 30,000 additional chargers to the US. While that still won’t match the number of Tesla Superchargers, it’s an important step.

Other automakers are being more vocal. General Motors has gone on record in saying; “We are continuing to monitor the situation regarding changes to the Supercharger team and the potential impacts.” In total GM, ??Mercedes, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen and others had agreed to use the NACS standard and had penned agreements to use the Supercharger network in the US.

What is the NACS Charging Standard and Why It Matters

Almost all electric cars (including BMW and MINI) have used what is known as the CCS standard. However since the Model S launch, Tesla has used a propriety connector as part of its strategy to exclusively leverage its large Supercharger network.

As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021, the US Government announced it would offer US$7.5 billion in federal subsidies to build out a nationwide network of fast chargers at least every 50 miles along America’s major roads. One requirement to access the funding was that the chargers must be accessible by multiple brands of electric cars.

The Tesla Model S P85 we tested in 2015

Responding to this Tesla wisely debuted an updated charging connector called the “North American Charging Standard” (NACS) and opened the standard to make the specifications available to other EV manufacturers. Unlike the earlier Tesla proprietary connector (which used CAN bus to communicate), NACS uses the same ISO 15118 protocol as CCS, making any CCS vehicle electrically compatible with NACS. Only a simple pass-through adapter is needed to make CCS vehicles compatible with NACS. This meant that all CCS equipped cars (again all electric BMWs and MINIs) technically had the ability to use much of Tesla’s charging network.

With this move, Tesla began aggressively courting automakers to switch to the NACS standard to create a single plug and ultimately a simpler experience for consumers. In response GM, ??Mercedes, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, MINI Volkswagen and others agreed to begin manufacturing electric cars with the NACS standard over the next couple of years. However this move to disband the entire team responsible for the Supercharger network now throws the some doubt on those plans.

The move has not only created enormous confusion in the industry but also a land grab for the now jobless talent coming from Tesla. In total the potential ramifications are almost too much to list. But if you want to go even deeper on this topic, perhaps no one has captured the facts and potential fallout better than our friend Kyle from Out of Spec Reviews.