Following Tesla: Nissan Offers Free Charging For All New LEAF Owners

In the cut and thrust world of buisness, it doesn’t take long for a good idea to spread. Especially if it’s likely to get you more customers.

So it comes as no surprise to the electric car world that Nissan has decided to follow in the tire tracks of Tesla Motors by offering its customers free public charging with every new Nissan LEAF under a expansion of its ‘No Charge to Charge’ promotion.

She's happy because she can charge for free for two years...

She’s happy because she can charge for free for two years…

Announced yesterday afternoon at the New York Auto Show, the No Charge to Charge expansion — which originally offered LEAF drivers free quick DC charging at participating Nissan dealerships — will give every new Nissan LEAF owner a free RFID card to give them free, unlimited access to the top electric car charging networks in the U.S.

The card itself, called an ‘EZ-Charge Card’ will launch on July 1 this year in ten of Nissan’s top LEAF markets, including San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Portland Oregon, Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Washington, DC.  The following year, Nissan will expand the No Charge to Charge scheme to fifteen more markets.

Managed by NRG eVgo in partnership with Nissan, the free-to-charge EZ-Charge card will work with Chargepoint, AeroVironment and CarCharging (formerly known as Blink) charging stations, and will remain completely free for two years from the point of purchase.

In an official statement made yesterday on the first day of the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Nissan’s director of EV Infrastructure and Strategy Brendan Jones, said the charging program illustrated Nissan’s commitment to plug-in cars.

“Nissan’s commitment to mass-market cars is matched by our commitment to increase charging infrastructure for LEAF owners,” he said. “EZ-Charge is a natural progression of our multi-pronged commitment to developing EV charging at workplace campuses, at Nissan LEAF dealerships and in the communities where LEAF drivers live and work.”

To ensure everyone who has already purchased a Nissan LEAF recently is covered, Jones said the scheme will be provided retroactively to people who purchased a car on or after April 1, 2014.

While it’s great to see Nissan following Tesla’s lead and offer free electric car charging to its customers, it’s worth noting that Nissan’s approach does vary significantly to Tesla’s famous ‘fuel for life’ promise for every Tesla customer at its nationwide network of Supercharger stations.

It's not quite as simple as Tesla's free Supercharger policy, but it's a welcome thing for would-be and existing LEAF drivers.

It’s not quite as simple as Tesla’s free Supercharger policy, but it’s a welcome thing for would-be and existing LEAF drivers.

For a start, Nissan’s offer only extends two years beyond the initial purchase of the car. It’s not clear at the moment what Nissan will do beyond this date, although we suspect it will involve some kind of ‘opt-in’ tarriffed charging scheme similar to ones we’ve seen being employed in Europe by automakers like BMW and charging providers like Chargemaster.  Tesla’s system is free — doesn’t require an RFID card, and stays free for as long as the customer owns the car.

Then there’s the way the network itself operates. Tesla retains ownership of its own charging network, installing and maintaining its own charging stations. This makes it very easy for the Californian automaker to respond to sudden changes in demand, installing new charging stations as required, without getting too bogged down in bureaucracy.

Nissan meanwhile, is relying on third-party charging providers with individual business models, installation policies and maintenance schedules. That means a lot more complexity when it comes to responding to consumer demand and expanding quick charging provision.

But that’s something for Nissan — not its customers — to worry about. For them, the most important thing to remember is that public electric car charging won’t cost a penny from July 1 for two whole years if you’ve just purchased a New LEAF.

That’s got to be a massive carrot to entice anyone into an all-electric car, right?  We just wonder how long it will be before other automakers follow suit. What do you think?


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