Is this a Lost Opportunity to Create a National fast Charge Network?

A while back Nissan made the unprecedented announcement that they were donating, completely free, about 60 of their new design fast chargers to the UK. The EV community got very excited by this. At last it looked like the UK could have a viable fast charge network allowing EVs to easily travel throughout the UK. Nissan invited interested parties to discuss it and then things went very quiet for months and we all waited with baited breath to see who would get awarded the task of installing them.

At the time I thought that Nissan had finally seen the common sense and business sense of supporting the EV revolution by installing a properly planned charging network in the UK. It is what we need if EVs are to be taken seriously by drivers other than the keen early adopters. I think we all want to see that happen and it looked like it would be Nissan leading the way again.

Nissan has said they are working to create a motorway network of fast charging stations but that report was buried in a press release about the anniversary of the launch of the Nissan Leaf and no details were given. In any case, although a motorway network is needed and would go some way towards satisfying the long-distance charging needs of EVs it falls way short of a viable national network.

David Peilow of the Tesla Owners Club has done some network analysis and it seems that a national network of less than 60 fast chargers would be adequate to cover most of the country if the network is planned to ensure proper coverage. The free Nissan chargers could create such a network if it was planned properly. However, with Nissan’s recent “The Big Turn On” initiative it looks highly unlikely that Nissan intend to create such a planned network.

So just what are Nissan’s plans for installing their fast chargers? They have kept it all very close to their chest.

What they have announced is that they seem to be “auctioning” some fast chargers in some kind of online “click” competition. In “The Big Turn On” people can register their details (for marketing purposes presumably) and then click to register a vote for a fast charger for their town or city. Nissan are saying that the places with the most clicks will get the chargers. Not exactly planned!

Are these extra to the 60+ announced before? If so then great! But without anything more accurate to go on I can only assume that they are not in addition and that these auctioned chargers are some of those already announced. 

In any case, it seems to me that the last place anyone would want a fast charger installed is in your home town. That is probably the only one that you would never use given that you charge at home most of the time. It is the ones away from your home town that will be of most benefit to anyone and so, for it to be effective, the deployment of any national network must be properly independently planned. Is that what Nissan is doing?

I can see that Nissan would be putting in a lot of cash into this giveaway and it makes sense that they will want to get as much PR out of it as they can but to compromise the network for PR reasons, if that is what they have done, seems to me to be very shortsighted and a huge opportunity missed.

So, are Nissan still planning to install a properly planned national, fast charge network covering the entire country (not just motorways)? In my opinion that would give them far more PR bang for their buck and it would actually help with the take up of EVs much more too.

I have to applaud and thank Nissan on the one hand for donating the chargers in the first place but why deploy them in an unplanned manner? It just seems like a massively missed opportunity for Nissan, current EV owners and all those potential EV owners that might have been persuaded to buy an EV if a national network of fast chargers existed.

One thought on “Is this a Lost Opportunity to Create a National fast Charge Network?”

  1. I don't disagree with that but we will only get tourists if there are owners and many people won't buy EVs if they cannot be used for longer trips.

    It isn't that I disagree with your statement but I disagree that tourist travel should be the what determines where we put the charging stations in this first wave of infrastructure. It seems that our priority should be the everyday owner. Get people interested in buying EVs for their normal needs first and then add additional infrastructure for tourists after.

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