Comments on Nissan Press Release Today on Free Chargers

So finally we get a little news from Nissan regarding their free fast chargers but to be honest it is still short on detail.

What they do say is:

Nissan is also helping to establish the infrastructure needed if the EV is to make a significant contribution to inner-city air quality. By the end of 2012, the company will have given away over 400 quick chargers to local authorities and partners with the ultimate aim of developing a network of thousands of chargers and creating a number of Electric Highways to link cities across Europe.

Full release is here:

That is great news from Nissan and I was tempted to just accept their generosity and not to comment on it as anything I say that does not fully support their initiative could be seen as being against their efforts. I do applaud Nissan for what they are doing but wouldn’t it be a great shame if they do it in a way that doesn’t benefit the EV community in the way that it could. My gut feel, and it is only a gut feel at the moment as Nissan have not announced the details of their plans, is that their donations won’t make up a properly planned national network.

This is partially supported by the fact that they are giving them to “local authorities”… never a good idea if you want something nationally planned!

So we still don’t know yet what Nissan are doing regarding the deployment of the 60+ fast chargers announced those months ago. Will it be a properly planned national network or will they, as they suggest in their announcement today, hand them out to local authorities and/or other independent organisations allowing them to install them for their local benefit? We await more news from Nissan.

The second worrying part of the release is their “The Big Turn On” initiative announced recently. On the surface it looks like a great way to engage the public and get EVs into peoples minds and onto their lips but there is a sting in the tale. They have decided to hold a competition to see which city generates the most online interest and they are then offering to install 30 free fast chargers into that city!

Well, I can think of nothing that is needed less than 30 fast chargers in any city right now. We don’t even have a proper national fast charge network so to put what would amount to half of what could make up a national network into just one city seems rather shortsighted. If Nissan really has an extra 30 fast chargers to give away wouldn’t they be better off deploying them to improve the long range capability of their EVs rather than dumping them in a single city? Cities are generally the very places where a high density of fast chargers are not required. People will be charging at home most nights, travelk distances are shorter and so lots of fast chargers are not needed. Some strategically located on main routes into and out from the city makes sense to allow travel to and from but that is it.

I am completely dumbfounded by this initiative. It suggests to me that perhaps the people making these decisions do not understand the dynamics of how people use an EV and what is important and what is not. This would be surprising as there are enough Nissan Leaf owners now that they could ask!

So I support “The Big Turn On” as a way to promote EVs in general, and Nissan in particular, but I fail to see how 30 fast chargers helps with the national take up of EVs or how it helps to improve the long-range capability of EVs, both of which would be likely to sell more EVs for Nissan.

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