Yesterday, Nissan GB announced CARE-EV LEAF, a new ownership package designed to give owners of Nissan’s first all-electric car easy access to rapid charging, the ability to borrow a gasoline or diesel car when they need it, and pan-European EV breakdown cover.
The scheme, which will come as standard with all new LEAFs, will, Nissan says, give “the ultimate in reassurance and peace of mind and answer many of the questions that customers face when considering EV ownership for the first time.” While four of its five pledges are aimed to make life easier for LEAF drivers, its fifth pledge — to offer guaranteed 24-hour test drives for potential LEAF customers — will be a welcome bonus for anyone wanting to try before they buy.
As with any new scheme however, it’s worth reading the small print to find out exactly what is and isn’t covered in CARE-EV LEAF. Here’s what Nissan says in its press release, as well as the small print outlined in its CARE-EV LEAF terms and conditions. And in italics, you’ll find our editorial comments.
Thanks to Nissan’s ongoing Rapid Charger rollout at dealers across the UK, as well as its continued partnership with Ecotricity’s Electric Highway, Nissan says there are now more than 60 dealers across the UK where LEAF owners can rapid charge for free, and more than 50 quick Electric Highway rapid chargers. That’s more than 110 places you can charge at nationwide, but because most dealer-located rapid chargers are only available during office hours, the number of rapid chargers available out of hours is far less.
Similarly, not all of Ecotricity’s Electric Highway rapid chargers — specifically ones located at IKEA retail outlets — are available 24/7, meaning anyone looking to make a trip at weekends or in the evening should probably double-check the location they’re planning on visiting is open before they leave.
Nissan’s own terms and conditions for the CARE-EV LEAF spell it out: the rapid charging is “Subject to applicable opening hours, availability, hosting site owners’ own terms and conditions, and fair usage policy.”
In addition, it notes, Ecotricity’s Electric Highway requires users to register for a free RFID card to access the network, and access is subject to Ecotricity’s own terms and conditions.
What we think: We’re glad to see so many rapid chargers installed nationwide for LEAF owners, but we’d like to note that anecdotally, charging at dealers isn’t always as straightforward as it could be. While some dealers treat EV customers needing a charge with the utmost professionalism and keep charging bays clear for LEAF drivers, most dealers we’ve encountered use EV charging bays as auxiliary parking, requiring EV owners to wait for someone to move the offending ICE car before charging can commence. This can sometimes take upwards of ten minutes to accomplish. Furthermore, charging at dealers isn’t a new thing, nor is the Electric Highway. Many LEAF owners have been charging at both for more than two years.
Free loan of a gasoline or diesel car for up to 14 days a year
For several years, select LEAF dealers across the country have offered LEAF customers free or reduced-price rental of a gasoline car on the occasions when they need to make a longer-distance trip.
Now, Nissan says, all LEAF customers will be eligible for 14 days of ICE-car rental per year, and all customers have to do is “give your dealer seven days’ notice and cover the fuel and insurance.”
However, in the small print, Nissan points out that the rental scheme is only valid for the first three years of ownership, and is available to new LEAF customers only.
In addition, it says, unless the dealership says otherwise, there’s a total mileage limit of 2,000 miles over the 14 days, equivalent to 143 miles per day. Insurance may be purchased from the dealer at a rate of £5 per day, or they may switch their own insurance from their LEAF to the loan car for the duration of the loan. Each loan booking must be for a minimum of one day, with shorter periods classing as one day. Finally, bookings must be made seven days in advance, and while the loan car is guaranteed to be no smaller than a Nissan Note, the transmission type and fuel type is at dealer’s discretion.
As you’d expect, usual limits apply to the loan cars too — like paying for the fuel and any damage or fines incurred during the loan period.
What we think: We’re pleased to see Nissan offering loaner cars to new LEAF customers, and think it’s great to see that the scheme will be rolled out at all 205 Nissan dealers across the country. However, we are a little worried about the mileage limit of 143 miles per day. Given the number of rapid charging stations available in the UK, we think it’d be easy to cover that kind of distance in the LEAF without needing a loaner. The kind of trips where LEAF drivers may want a conventional car — like driving from London to Scotland — would blow through the very limited mileage limit.
Free pan-European EV roadside assistance
One of the biggest fears of the new EV driver is range anxiety — the fear that they’ll run out of charge before reaching their destination. Nissan says free pan-European EV roadside assistance on all new LEAFs will help eliminate that range anxiety, with free recovery from Nissan roadside assistance anywhere in Europe for LEAF owners who have run out of charge.
Nissan’s small print makes the following clarifications.
The pan-European EV roadside assistance is available in selected European countries, and is available for LEAf customers buying their car outright or those buying the car and leasing the battery. The Roadside assistance is provided for the duration of Nissan’s standard three year, 60,000 mile warranty period, but if customers have their LEAF serviced at an authorised Nissan service centre, the roadside assistance will be renewed every subsequent year, provided it is still being service at an authorised Nissan service centre. Customers who lease their car’s battery pack instead of buying it with the car will have roadside assistance included for the duration of their car’s battery lease agreement.
Dig deeper, and Nissan says the roadside recovery covers cars which have either run out of charge or cannot be recharged at the customer’s location, but recovery will only be within a 30-mile radius, either to a location of the owners’ choice, the nearest charging station (slow or rapid), or the nearest dealer. Owners who repeatedly call the service ‘without reasonable cause, or any other abuse, or flagrant abuse of the scheme’ or their car will result in access to the roadside assistance package being withdrawn from them.
What we think: Nissan has already offered roadside assistance to all LEAF customers, but the extension into Europe is a welcome one and should make it easier for first time LEAF owners to overcome range anxiety and make longer-distance trips. However, with a 30-mile limit on all recoveries, you might find yourself stuck at a slow charging location if you’re off the beaten track. In addition, we’d like to see Nissan provide recovery to the nearest working rapid charging station along your route, regardless of distance. That way, you’d always be sure of arriving at your destination and not being taken in the wrong direction for the sake of a recharge.
Battery state of health guarantee
Already in place in the UK and across the world, Nissan is offering customers a battery guarantee that the car’s battery capacity will not fall below 9 out of 12 bars within 60,000 miles or five years of the LEAF’s life — whichever is sooner. If it does, Nissan says it will repair or replace the damaged battery components at no charge to bring the capacity back up to 9 bars.
What we think: Nissan’s battery warranty is a welcome relief to new owners worried that their LEAF’s battery pack won’t last more than a few years, and should encourage more customers to consider buying a LEAF for the first time. However, we’re disappointed that Nissan’s warranty allows it to repair battery packs to bring capacity back up to 9 bars. By our calculations, the ninth capacity bar loss — four bars out of twelve — represents a 33.75 percent loss in battery capacity. That’s equivalent to a real-world range of just under 50 miles per charge from full to empty in ideal circumstances. In all honesty, we feel most customers with that much capacity loss will want a new battery pack at this point — not one repaired back to a minimum of 9 bars of its original capacity. Since third-party estimates say British LEAFs are likely to take more than eight years to reach 70 percent of their original capacity however, we’d be surprised if any UK LEAF owners need to make use of this particular warranty.
24-hour test drives
While Nissan has already offered 24-hour test-drives to prospective LEAF buyers in the past, it has now extended the scheme to cover the whole of the UK, allowing would-be buyers to see if the LEAF really does fit in with their lifestyle before ordering one.
As with the battery state of health guarantee, there’s little in the way of small print for this pledge, with the only caveat being that the 24-hour test drives are subject to availability at the time of booking, and that that each dealer may have additional terms and restrictions on age and notice requibments, for example
What we think: Kudos to Nissan for offering what prospective customers really need: a full 24-hours with the car to see if a LEAF fits their needs. We hope that dealers consider including relevant charging cables and RFID smart cards for access to rapid chargers with this deal, since it lets prospective customers do more than just drive home and recharge overnight before returning the car the next day.
A solid set of pledges, with some obvious caveats
Overall, we’re placed to see that Nissan is working hard to make the LEAF more appealing to would-be EV drivers, as well as improving the ownership experience for existing owners. We’re confident many LEAF customers will welcome these five promises, but note that the small print does give dealerships — and Nissan itself — a fairly wide playing field of acceptable practice, meaning that your user experiences may and will vary according to the attitude of individual dealerships and sales staff to Nissan’s first all-electric car.
Do you think Nissan’s latest pledge to LEAF drivers will be welcomed, or do you think it’s a rehash of schemes already in place? And if you’re looking to buy a LEAF, do these promises make you more or less likely to buy one?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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