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USA: Nissan Promises Dealership-Based EV Quick Charging


Nissan’s Tim Gallagher on Saturday discussing the 2013 Nissan LEAF, seen in background, and Quick Charging, at Luscious Garage in San Francisco, at a meeting of the Bay Area Nissan LEAF Owners Association.

On Saturday, Nissan gave a sneak peak of the 2013 LEAF to the Bay Area Nissan LEAF Owners Association in San Francisco—a few days before the new model year is unveiled at this year’s Detroit auto show. Tim Gallagher, a Nissan spokesman, said the 2013 enhancements were “simple, small changes, a nice generational move of the car,” as I reported for The New York Times. But to me, and the 60 or so LEAF owners on hand in San Francisco, the big news was the imminent roll out of Quick Chargers throughout California at Nissan dealerships.

I’ve been driving my Nissan LEAF for more than 18 months, and have yet to use the Quick Charger—the main added feature of the more expensive SL model. Knowing that there are Quick Chargers throughout the Bay Area would enable me to take trips—from my hometown of Berkeley maybe as far as Santa Cruz and up to Sacramento—that I have not dared try.

“I can finally say that I’m confident that in the next 60 days, we’re going to have a lot of Quick Chargers in the ground, that we’re doing with our dealerships.” Said Gallagher. “I’ve seen the list of dealerships that have been identified that will get Quick Chargers. It’s great coverage throughout the state. It’s sort of a test program for us, because we want to see about usage. But if I were here in 60 days, we would be having a lot different conversation about a lot of Nissan Chargers in the ground.”
Managing Expectations

When asked if the Quick Chargers, capable of adding about 50 to 60 miles of range in about 20 to 25 minutes, would be available 24/7 at dealerships, Gallagher replied, “That’s the intent,” leaving some flexibility in case some dealerships have physical locations that would make that impossible. “I’m sure the community will get the word out about which dealers don’t have 24/7 access.”

Gallagher also left some wiggle room about whether or not the Quick Chargers would be free—but that was clearly the understanding of LEAF owners who are in close communication with Nissan. The availability of free 24/7 chargers at dozens of Bay Area Nissan dealerships—and other prime markets in the state (and across the country) could put competing charging infrastructure providers at a disadvantage. Why pay for something when it’s offered free elsewhere?

The purpose of putting the Quick Chargers at dealerships is apparently not only to cut through the red tape of installing in other public locations, but to be used as a sales tool. Nissan sales staff would be able to demonstrate Quick Charging, or better yet, just to point to the Quick Charger being used by a happy LEAF owner.

Nissan will use its own CHAdeMo-based Quick Charge equipment at dealerships. “Three or four years ago, it was not part of the business plan to do our own Quick Chargers, because we thought the community would already be up and running. But a couple of years ago we decided to jump in and do our own. We lowered the cost of it.”
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