The competition around an eVTOL charging standard heats up

Dueling announcements this week hinted at the high stakes for eVTOL developers in the selection of a universal charging interface

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Release Date
November 10, 2023
The competition around an eVTOL charging standard heats up

In November 2022, Tesla published the design and specifications for its electric vehicle charging connector and charge port, boldly calling it the North American Charging Standard (NACS). One year later, a majority of automakers who sell in the United States have announced they will adopt the standard (Volkswagen and Stellantis being notable exceptions).

Tesla’s standard triumphed in the U.S. over its competition, the Combined Charging System (CCS), after more than a decade of use and 20 billion EV charging miles. Yet, a similar battle for dominance is now taking place in the electric vertical take-off and landing industry, even though eVTOL aircraft are still at least a year or two away from commercial operations in the country.

Related: Special Report: Surveying the eVTOL competitive landscape

Signs of this increasingly heated rivalry emerged on the morning of November 7, when three leading eVTOL developers made two very different announcements related to charging. Joby Aviation revealed in a blog post that it plans to make the specifications for its bespoke charging interface freely available to industry, much as Tesla did with NACS. Archer Aviation and Beta Technologies announced that Archer is using charging systems from Beta, with both companies making a strong pitch for CCS, which also supports DC fast charging, as the preferred standard for electric aviation.

The timing wasn’t a coincidence; rather, it was an attempt by both sides to shape the conversation around a universal charging standard as Joby comes under increasing pressure to adopt one. In the automotive world, potential sites for EV chargers are essentially unlimited. In the context of urban air mobility, however, charging sites will be tied to approved aircraft landing sites and constrained in both size and number, making early convergence on a universal standard more desirable.

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