Free Fast Charging is actually Helping to Sell EVs, however Should Automakers Subsidize the idea?


Free Fast Charging is actually Helping to Sell EVs, however Should Automakers Subsidize the idea?

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Nissan Leaf at charger

Does access to a robust, reliable charging network sell electric vehicles? While Tesla in addition to its Supercharger network might be the first example that will comes to mind, Nissan in addition to BMW have more time invested from the idea that will a generous set of chargers does spark a larger market for electric vehicles.

Tesla in addition to those different two companies have gone about the idea very differently. Instead of focusing the effort toward building out a network of waypoint fast chargers, as Tesla has, with consistent branding in addition to a fluid user experience, Nissan in addition to BMW have become pioneers in brand-agnostic city fast charging. Although both automakers had started off infrastructure efforts before Tesla, July 2014 marked the start of Nissan’s No Charge to Charge in addition to BMW’s ChargeNow. No Charge to Charge essentially gives those who buy or lease a 2013 product or newer Nissan Leaf two years of complimentary public charging (in one of 51 major metro areas, with more than 1000 quick chargers) to serve as “a safety net” for when they need to drive farther around cities in addition to suburbs. ChargeNow offers similar benefits to i3 drivers, although the idea’s a little more focused toward providing longer-distance waypoints. In fact, BMW in addition to Nissan teamed up in January to facilitate public access to charging using the EVgo fast-charging network, so No Charge to Charge stations are not necessarily exclusive to Nissan owners. (Ford also offers a service called EV 1-2-3 Charge.)

Nissan couldn’t say exactly how many sales the idea can attribute to the existence of its program. however according to Anthony Lambkin, Nissan’s EV infrastructure manager for North America, the idea is actually helping to sell cars, in addition to the brand’s in-market research says the network has an “overweighted influence on purchase decision.” Lambkin also points out that will Nissan’s companion EZ-Charge pay service has earned the business of quite a few Tesla drivers, too. Tesla’s Supercharger network is actually “a great safety net if you want to drive across the country, however even Tesla drivers are opting to charge close to home,” he said.

Nissan Program an “Insurance Card,” Not a Daily Charger

The city-focused approach has created a few issues for Nissan that will also happen to be Tesla sore points. One of them is actually that will a very tiny percentage of participants are using the service far more often than the rest. According to Nissan, the No Charge to Charge (NCTC) service isn’t intended as a substitute for home charging—although about 5 percent of Leaf drivers don’t have access to home charging—or to enable Uber drivers. “truly, the idea behind NCTC is actually to provide an insurance card from the glovebox, a comfort level,” said Lambkin. Commercial or fleet use is actually not allowed by the terms of the service, in addition to more than 80 percent of those using the program are charging with the idea less than 10 times a month, he said.

Tesla in November announced that will free unlimited Supercharger use would certainly soon expire, in addition to then last month released pricing details for charging while clarifying that will the approximately 110,000 vehicles that will originally included free charging could still take advantage.

Nissan Leaf at EVGo station

There are about 20,000 U.S. Nissan Leaf drivers enrolled in No Charge to Charge, in addition to Nissan reports about 40,000 individual charging sessions per month. the idea adds up to about 4000 kWh monthly, in addition to the automaker says that will since the beginning of the program the idea has provided Leaf drivers with free energy to go 14 million miles. Given the rapid expansion of the program (the idea was in half the number of markets early last year), the totals likely are increasing exponentially today.

Nissan’s program includes both Level 2 public charging stations (the level that will you might be able to easily install at home) as well as far more powerful Level 3 DC fast charging, the latter of which allows a Leaf to recover about 80 percent of its capacity in about half an hour.

Faster! Faster!

the idea’s perhaps no surprise that will No Charge to Charge participants are using DC fast charging 14 times as often as slower Level 2 charging. “When we go back in addition to ask customers on a consistent basis, ‘How fast do you want to charge,’ every year the number gets smaller in addition to smaller,” Lambkin said, pointing to how the idea’s no longer a question of whether upcoming cars will be able to take advantage of 150-kW fast charging however whether that will will be fast enough. in addition to 350-kW chargers already are arriving, too.

“that will’s going to be even more important as the range of vehicles gets bigger in addition to as the utility for EVs becomes not so much just the urban area however driving between cities,” he said. Users’ preferences in addition to the need to get back on the road quickly also are represented from the network-wide average charging time of just 22 minutes. Shorter charging times also make sense given where Nissan is actually aiming to place most of its chargers: big-box stores, casual-dining restaurants, in addition to coffee shops where there can be retail engagement lasting typically about 15 to 45 minutes.

BMW i3 at CCS fast charger

For those who do opt to keep using the chargers included from the program after the two-year period (or for those driving vehicles through different brands) who will need to pay for use, Lambkin conceded there are issues with the “quite fragmented” interfaces in addition to user experiences. the idea has only been from the past 18 months that will all fresh equipment installations have started off to include credit-card readers, while Nissan also began ensuring that will pricing is actually the same across equivalent station types. from the interest of homogenizing the experience, Nissan is actually increasing its efforts with EVgo; its stations have a national design standard, are ADA compliant, in addition to have a similar look in addition to feel.

Nissan has strayed through its city-focused approach in a few instances—for instance, by subsidizing some of the stations of the West Coast Electric Highway, an early project aimed at installing fast chargers up in addition to down I-5, all the way through San Diego to the Canadian border, in addition to north along Highway 99 to Vancouver, British Columbia. however Nissan’s Lambkin admitted a program like No Charge to Charge probably will look more like Tesla’s Supercharger network or BMW’s network, allowing the idea to support vehicles with greater ranges. “the idea’s probably going to be more interstate—a national network where the location of the chargers themselves will dictate a lower utilization.”

BMW has been a little more invested from the long-distance potential of electric vehicles; while the idea has partnered with Nissan for some of the metropolitan locations, the idea has also separately worked with VW to establish express East Coast in addition to West Coast charging corridors. “We’re very proactive in public charging,” said Rob Healey, electric-vehicle infrastructure manager for BMW. “We understand that will the idea’s not about just selling your vehicle in addition to that will we need a more holistic approach.”

Aerovironment DC-fast charger, West Coast Electric Highway

Planning a Viable Business Case for Charging

Most automakers poised to Discharge a mass-market electric vehicle over the next few years also are showing increased involvement in infrastructure. Ford from the United States has worked to help subsidize workplace charging, while Mercedes-Benz has said the idea will have an infrastructure solution ready by the time the idea rolls out its EQ sub-brand of electric cars beginning in 2019. More immediately, Volkswagen is actually ramping up to spend big money—$2 billion, spread over ten years—on EV infrastructure in addition to affiliated projects, as part of its federally negotiated atonement for the diesel scandal. If there’s an outlier here, the idea’s General Motors, which has been especially cautious about infrastructure spending despite being bullish on electrified vehicles, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV being the most recent example. As these product rollouts happen in rapid succession, the idea will be interesting to see whether the automakers who sell the most electric vehicles are those that will labored hardest on infrastructure.

While programs like No Charge to Charge do contribute to purchase decisions, they also are investments in an infrastructure using a revenue product that will may be difficult to define at This particular point. “As we go forward, I don’t think that will the idea of ubiquitous free charging is actually a way to support the long-term sustainable growth of the industry. People need to understand the value of charging their vehicle in public,” said Lambkin. “You don’t pay $1.20 for a tiny bottle of water out of your tap, however you gladly pay the idea when the idea’s chilled, in a convenient place.”

There are places where Nissan is actually seeing utilization rates high enough to support sustainable revenue. For example, its chargers in Fremont, California—where Tesla’s assembly plant is actually located—are “used around the clock,” Lambkin said. “the idea’s very promising for the industry, in addition to the idea does [indicate] if you put chargers where people want them . . . there might be a not bad business product for owner-operated [facilities] from the long run.”

from the meantime, automakers have to be careful not to sweeten the deal too much, dilute the value of the services, in addition to create networks that will still depend on subsidies for survival regardless of usage levels. “We’re truly at a very early stage, in addition to whatever we can do to get charging networks in addition to sales sustainable, we’re going to do that will,” said Lambkin.

Free Fast Charging is actually Helping to Sell EVs, however Should Automakers Subsidize the idea?

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