Getting back on the horse

So, what has happened over the past week apart from my self-enforced exile?

Firstly, and rather importantly, Nissan have finally responded to the issue of them supplying dangerously wired plugs on the Nissan Leaf charge cable. I received a letter from Nissan, presumably sent out to all owners, explaining the problem and asking owners to contact Nissan who will send an electrician to replace the plug.

In one sense this is great news. Nissan Leaf owners will now know there could be a problem and hopefully they will follow Nissan’s advice and get the plug checked or replaced. On the other hand I am rather disappointed. There is no mention that this could be a safety issue anywhere in the letter. In fact the opposite. It just says that the issue might stop the car charging. I can see than any suggestion that it might be a safety issue could have significant consequences but when it comes to safety I would like to think that Nissan would put the safety of their owners ahead of corporate reputation. Obviously I am mistaken.

Well, most owners are likely to work out that an incorrectly wired plug could be a safety concern so I have faith that this issue is now resolved. It only took Nissan 7 weeks to come up with the plug replacement plan and to get the letter out. I hate to think what might have happened if someone was hurt.

There are two other topics that spring to mind, both to do with charging infrastructure, Ecotricity and Little Chef.

I remember a few weeks ago Ecotricity bounding on to the national stage announcing the proposed charge point network in cooperation with Welcome Break. They announced an initial 12 Welcome Break motorway service areas that would get 22kW AC charge points and they announced that this first 12 would be launched before the end of September. I now notice that since then only a few new sites have been added (making 6 live to date) and Ecotricity are now saying on their web site that this initial 12 will now be live before the end of 2011. Did Ecotricity always have the end of 2011 in mind as the target date for this initial 12? Who knows. But it is a bit of a recurring theme in the EV marketplace… people announcing launch dates for cars, products etc that then have their launch date slip.Take the Ford Focus EV, Toyota Plug in Prius, the EV Cup and a whole host of others I could think of right now. I could be wrong…

Finally then Little Chef… they have announced that they intend to install charge points at all their restaurants! They call them “fast” charge points but according to their web site they are 7kW. That is not fast!!! That is a waste of time for a national main route charging network. Let us face it… pwoplw will only be considering using a Little Chef if they are travelling on a long trip. I don’t know many people that just pop in to a Little Chef because they like the food! It is because it is convenient when travelling on a long trip. So, by definition, we will want to top up our car and ourselves asap and get on our way again and this is why I say that 7kW just won’t cut it.

I have written to Little Chef explaining why 7kW is not going to work for EV owners and so why it will not bring them the additional revenue they will be expecting. I have asked them to put in combined DC/AC chargers at some of their restaurants at strategic locations no more than 70 miles apart so making the Little Chef network actually useful for EV owners. Can I urge all EV owners to do the same and write to Little Chef. With the cost of combined CHAdeMO chargers with 44kW AC coming down fast there is no reason why they could not install them right from the off and get Little Chef on the lips and into the minds of every EV owner in the country for years to come.

So there you are. It seems my typing skills are just as bad as they were before and that the break hasn’t caused me to melt into a heap on the floor.

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