Nissan confirmed today to Transport Evolved that Carwings will remain free for European LEAF owners even after their cars reach three years of age, a change from the previous plan of charging owners a yearly subscription for the service.Integrated into every Nissan LEAF, Carwings allows drivers of Nissan’s electric car to remotely interact with their cars via a smartphone app or Internet browser, giving them real-time information on their car’s state of charge, basic charging functionality, climate control and even lets them set a satellite navigation destination.
When Carwings first debuted alongside the LEAF in 2010, many felt the system would revolutionise electric vehicle ownership, empowering drivers with a level of interactivity between their mobile phone and their car never before seen.
At the time, Nissan said Carwings would be provided free of charge to LEAF owners for the first three years of ownership, after which a yearly subscription charge of around (believed to be around $99 U.S.) would be levied for the service.
Carwings would, Nissan Promised, make electric car ownership easier, by helping owners plan routes from charging station to charging station, avoiding range anxiety and ultimately, getting stranded without a charge.
But inaccurate charging databases supplied by third parties, connectivity woes and service glitches have left most drivers frustrated rather than enamoured with the Carwings service.
General reliability has been so bad in fact that Internet forums like MyNissanLEAF.com and LEAFTalk.co.uk contain hundreds of posts devoted to the on-board telematics system, with problems ranging from little or no connectivity to malfunctioning smart phone apps and out-of-date charging information.
In recent months and after several software updates to both Nissan LEAFs owned by the Transport Evolved team, we’ve noticed a slight improvement in Carwings’ overall reliability, (although we note the charging database is still woefully out of date for the U.K.,) and we still can’t get the official iPhone Carwings app to connect to the Carwings server.
Connecting via the excellent LeafLink App (available from the iTunes store) for iPhone does result in reliable, up-to-date information about our cars from the Carwings server, however, leading us to conclude that the problem lies with Nissan’s Carwings software, not hardware.
Why has Nissan decided to keep the cost of Carwings free for Europeans? We’re not sure, although lower-than expected LEAF sales, poor Carwings reliability and the development of third-party telematics systems like the Open Vehicle Monitoring System must have all played a part.
As for U.S. Leaf Owners, Nissan North America tells Transport Evolved that it is still planning a U.S. Carwings strategy, and will be able to make an official announcement soon.
Do you use Carwings in your LEAF? Do you think the service is reliable, and would you pay to have a yearly Carwings subscription?
Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.
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