Nissan to build dealership-based CHADEMO quick charging network
Within 60 days Nissan will have "a lot of Quick Chargers in the ground" at Nissan dealerships, in a big vote of confidence in Nissan's choice to use the CHADEMO standard for quick charging. The statement was said by Tim Gallagher, Nissans Western US Manager of Corporate Communications during an appearance at the SF BayLEAF's and GGEVA meeting on Saturday, in San Francisco. The appearance was part of a small tour in which Gallagher brought a preproduction 2013 Leaf to a few locations in the SF Bay Area, giving Leaf fans a chance to look at it and talk with Nissan representatives.
This is an interesting strategic move on Nissan's part because of the longer term standards battle over fast charging standards. With CHADEMO fast charging, a Nissan LEAF can pick up an 80% recharge within a half hour. Faster charging radically changes the usability of an electric car, and while the 6.6 kilowatt charging support in the 2013 model will be a boon to 2013 LEAF owners, fast charging is much much faster. On the LEAF the range boost is 50-60 miles worth of range in 20-25 minutes, versus the 25 miles of range per hour of charging at 6.6 kilowatts or 12 miles of range per hour of charging at 3.3 kilowatts.
For information about the 2013 LEAF see 2013 US Leaf has improved range, charging speed, and lower price, and for prices see 2013 Leaf price falls to $29k, almost as low as the hybrids
The automobile industry had been locked in a standards battle between CHADEMO and SAE's DC Fast Charging system. An example of that battled occurred last May, at a public hearing convened by California Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett to discuss Electric Vehicle Deployment. During the meeting Nissan and GM representatives traded barbs over fast charging standards, with GM's Shad Balch pressing Sen. Corbett to use public funds only for standardized fast charging systems. The SAE DC Fast Charge system has long been expected to be officially approved by the SAE J1772 committee, due to their long-running snubbing of the CHADEMO standard, and indeed the SAE fast charge system was approved in October 2012.
Nissan, however, is undeterred in pushing for CHADEMO adoption and deployment. This writer spoke with a Nissan representative on this in October, and he explained that Nissan is looking to get a lot of CHADEMO cars into the field essentially establishing it as a de facto fast charge standard. In that regard it's a numbers game, because it will be a couple years before large numbers of electric cars with SAE DC Fast Charge ports are being sold, and in the meantime Nissan is ready to sell large numbers of LEAF's in both North America and Europe, many of which will sport CHADEMO ports.
What Gallagher said specifically is: “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. 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.”
It wasn't in Nissan's original planning to get into the business of deploying quick charging stations. “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.”
The charging stations will be installed at Nissan dealerships, and the intention is that they will be available for use 24/7. Additionally, the stations should be available to Mitsubishi i-MiEV owners, the other electric car that has a CHADEMO port.
Rather than deploy the charging stations from vendors like ABB or Schneider, the equipment Nissan will deploy is the inexpensive CHADEMO charger design that Nissan developed on their own. That charger was developed in collaboration with Sumitomo, and has a starting price around $15,000.
Nissan already has deployed Level 2 charging stations at dealerships, making those stations available to the public. Adding fast charging stations is simply part of that same effort. It was unclear whether there will be a fee for using the stations. The existing stations at Nissan dealerships are free, but fast charging carries additional costs including demand charges from the power companies that can be significant.
The quick charge port built into most LEAF's (and i-MiEV's) is only useful if there are enough CHADEMO charging stations installed. Otherwise it's just a useless power port, just like that Betamax VCR gathering dust in your basement also proved useless over time. What Nissan is getting ready to do is install enough CHADEMO charging stations so that the LEAF fast charge port has more value. That should in turn help to goose LEAF sales, by making sure the fast charging feature LEAF has actual value. Other than Mitsubishi and Tesla Motors, no other electric automaker has a fast charge feature. The first electric car to be offered with the SAE DC Fast Charge system is the Chevy Spark, the 2014 Chevy Spark EV is due to go on sale in limited quantities in the Summer 2013.
Nissan could be far ahead in fast charging deployments by the time the other automakers get the ball rolling with the competing system.