Nissan is on tour promoting its upcoming electric vehicle, the Leaf, in select cities across the U.S. The 5-passenger EV will become available in December 2010, and faces many challenges in fostering a supporting vehicle charging infrastructure and creating consumer-friendly financing options, but thus far they seem to have a well-conceived plan. During an event in Portland this week I spoke with Nissan senior manager for corporate planning Brian Verprauskus about the Leaf launch plans.
Ensuring that consumers will be ready to charge on the day that they bring the vehicle home is a new challenge for Nissan and the other EV manufacturers. Nissan plans to partner with a nationally known company to provide the wall box for plugging in the vehicle and to manage matching vehicle owners with electricians. Nissan will choose a company that has experience going into consumers’ homes, and will likely announce the partner in early 2010. Consumers will need to connect the box to a dedicated circuit for EV charging, which requires carefully managing the process to reduce risk of a customer improperly plugging in a vehicle and causing damage to the vehicle or property. Nissan’s plan is smart because many consumers will need hand holding to understand the issues of EV charging, and a company with adept at customer relations will be key.