DETROIT – Ford Motor will partner with Tesla on charging initiatives for its current and future electric vehicles in an unusual tie-up between two rival car company CEOs announced on Thursday.
Under the deal, current Ford owners will gain access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers in the US and Canada starting early next year, via an adapter. And the next generation of Ford electric cars — expected mid-decade — will include a Tesla charging plug that will allow Ford owners to charge at Tesla Superchargers without an adapter, making Ford one of the first automakers to explicitly plug into the grid.
The initiatives were announced by Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a live audio discussion on Twitter Spaces. They come as Ford tries to ramp up production of its all-electric vehicles catch up to – or one day surpass – Tesla’s sales in the segment.
While Tesla still dominates the EV sector by far, Ford ranked second in US all-electric vehicle sales last year, with 61,575 electric vehicles sold.
Farley said the company is “absolutely committed” to a single U.S. charging protocol that includes Tesla’s plug-in port, known as NACS. It’s unclear whether Ford’s next-generation electric cars will retain the charging ports that are part of current models, known as CCS. A Ford spokesman said the company has “that option open, but we don’t have any news to share today.”
A separate Ford spokesperson told CNBC that charging prices “will be competitive in the marketplace.” The companies will release more details closer to the launch date expected in 2024.
Tesla has previously discussed opening up its private network to other electric cars. White House officials announced in February that Tesla has committed to making 7,500 of its charging stations available to non-Tesla EV drivers by the end of 2024. Previously, the company’s chargers were mostly used in the US and made to be compatible with Tesla electric cars.
In Tesla first quarter shareholder board, the company revealed that it has roughly 45,000 Supercharger connectors at 4,947 Supercharger stations worldwide. The company does not disclose chargers by country or device revenue. It includes revenue from its gas stations in the “services and other” segment.
Thursday’s Twitter Spaces event between Farley and Musk marks the latest interaction between the two executives, who have a unique rivalry. Each has expressed admiration for the other, despite their companies being in direct competition.
Ford beat Tesla to the punch in the pickup segment when it began production of its F-150 Lightning, an electric version of its perennially popular trucks, in April 2022. Ford also heavily benchmarked the Tesla Model Y for its Mustang Mach-E crossover and followed Tesla on price. sections of electrical switches.
But Musk, who runs Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter, has repeatedly praised Ford as a historic American company and praised its ability to avoid bankruptcy, unlike its crosstown rivals. General Motors and Chrysler during the Great Recession.
Such flattery was prevalent during Thursday’s call: “I’m really excited about our industry and Ford customers working with Elon and his team,” Farley said. Musk later reciprocated the sentiment: “It’s an honor to work with a great company like Ford,” he said.
Farley prodded Musk a bit, asking about a long-delayed new version of the company’s first vehicle, the Roadster. Musk teased an update to the Roadster in the fall of 2017. It promised a range of 620 miles on a single charge and three motors, among other things.
Today, Thursday, he reiterated that the new version of the Roadster is still not completely designed.
Earlier on Thursday, Farley praised Tesla for its charging network during a Morgan Stanley conference, saying that while Ford has created its own charging products for its commercial customers, automakers should consider working together on charging infrastructure for the general public.
“It seems absolutely ridiculous that we have an infrastructure problem and we can’t even agree on what plug to use,” Farley said, noting that Tesla’s charging plug is different from what other automakers use. “I think the first step is to collaborate in a way that we haven’t done, probably with new EV brands and traditional car companies.”