Nissan wants more public chargers across US to boost Leaf sales

Article by Anita Panait, on April 30, 2013

The volume production of the Nissan Leaf is starting to pick up in the United States, and the Japanese carmakers hope to hike sales by having more public EV battery chargers installed across the country. Sales of the Nissan Leaf surged dramatically in March 2013 to over 2,200 units, as dealers started receiving the vehicle out of a U.S. plant.

Nissan expects sales of the Leaf will now begin to soar. Nissan officials, however, are aware that getting more public EV battery chargers – especially those more powerful and expensive fast-charging stations -- in place across the US will be the key to enticing more consumers to drive electric cars. Nissan has designated a five-person "infrastructure" team to boost charger-station installations.

Leading them is Brendan Jones, who was Nissan’s head of electric vehicle marketing. The team wants to have 600 fast chargers -- Level 3 chargers putting out 400 to 600 volts -- in place by the end of March 2014. Nissan targets to have 22,000 Level 2, 220-volt chargers at businesses and in public places.

Nissan is now focusing on several markets wherein the Leaf is gaining momentum: California; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Atlanta; and Washington, D.C. Nissan has silently launched a pilot program with 27 California dealers to install quick chargers, with the carmaker taking care of funding. According to Nissan, some dealers in those markets have started selling as many as 100 Leafs a month.

In San Francisco, Leaf has become Nissan's second-biggest volume vehicle next to the Altima. In Seattle, Nissan dealers have requested a Leaf-led sales event to boost further the increasing demand of the leaf in the area. Nissan, however, has turned down the request, since its Smyrna plant has yet to produce Leafs at a pace fast enough to support growing them, according to Erik Gottfried, the newly appointed sales and marketing director for the Leaf.

Although the silhouette of the new Nissan Leaf remains the same, it now boasts of an array of engineering improvements. For instance, a series of modifications to its chassis has allowed the new Nissan Leaf to become more agile on the road as well as to travel farther than its predecessor on a single charge. Thanks to this array of engineering enhancements, the new Nissan Leaf now has a range of 199 kilometers (as per NEDC cycle), compared to the previous range of 175 km per single charge.

In addition, the new Nissan Leaf could be availed with a new optiona; on-board fast charger that could fully recharge the battery of the EV in just half the time of a conventional charger. Likewise, the modifications implemented on the new Nissan Leaf resulted to improved efficiency, enhanced practicality, and richer ownership experience. Overall, these modifications resulted to a higher level of electric vehicle ownership.

Paul Willcox, senior vice president for Sales and Marketing at Nissan Europe, remarked that the comprehensive changes made to the Nissan Leaf have reinforced the EV’s unique character –smart yet unpredictable, progressive yet accessible to many customers. Willcox added that after listening to customers, Nissan was able to make the necessary changes to the European version of the Leaf to make it more suitable for their needs.

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