These new points will boost existing networks and give electric vehicle customers greater freedom and flexibility by effectively extending the range of their car.
Countries across Europe have been asked to pitch for a charging network and the best ‘bids’ will win an allocation of chargers. In the UK, Nissan has put in a bid for 65 chargers which would be strategically located at selected service stations along the motorway network, creating a ‘pathway’ on major routes across the UK.
Contact has already been made with the three largest motorway service station chains that have a total of 100 stations across the country. In addition, Quick Chargers would be located in some city centres and other key locations such as airports.
Nissan currently has a network of 32 EV dealership charging points, 26 of which already have a Quick Charger installed. The remaining six dealers will be the first in the UK to install these new smaller units, the total number of dealers with Quick Chargers is expected to be 150 by the end of 2012.
By recharging batteries in a fraction of the time, this radical step will help drive more customers towards electric vehicles such as the Nissan LEAF. As well as the LEAF, owners of Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Citroen electric cars that are available today will be able to charge their lithium ion batteries from 0 to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes. The chargers are also ‘AC ready’ to support the arrival of Renault electric cars that will charge from a 43kW AC quick charge.
Although a range between charges of around 100 miles will be enough for many Nissan LEAF owners, the spread of Quick Charger networks will allow drivers to travel longer distances in a day. Recharging a Nissan LEAF with a quick charger takes a little longer than it takes to refuel a conventional car and is significantly cheaper.
Jim Wright, Managing Director, Nissan Motor (GB) Limited said, “While we are confident that the LEAF’s range will satisfy most customers’ needs, we understand that some will need to make occasional longer journeys. Our vision is to create a ‘pathway charging network’ which would remove so called ‘range anxiety’ and open up pure electric car ownership to a whole new spectrum of drivers.”
The move follows an agreement between Nissan and five of Europe’s leading utility and electric car infrastructure supply companies to speed up the provision of the latest quick chargers developed by Nissan which are cheaper – up to half the previous price – and smaller than before. The target is to have a network of quick charge stations across Europe with several thousand units in place by the end of 2012 and tens of thousands by 2015. The 400 free units for Europe are intended to kick start this ambition.
A selection process has already started and winners will be awarded chargers according to how they fulfil a strict list of criteria developed by Nissan. These include convenient and accessible charger location, installation starting February 2012 and free or discounted charging for all Nissan LEAF customers for at least one year.
“With a significant number of Quick Chargers available across Europe, electric car owners will be able to recharge quickly no matter where they go. We believe this is essential for the mass adoption of electric cars,” said Pierre Loing, Vice President Product Planning & Zero Emission Business Unit, Nissan International.