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Published on April 9th, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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Up Close With AeroVironment’s Nissan LEAF Home Charging Unit

Just before the New York Auto Show, Nissan officially announced the incredibly affordable price of the Nissan LEAF, which will go on sale this December. At $32,780 — or a $349/month lease after Nissan claims a $7,500 federal tax credit per car — Nissan surprised the world. The LEAF will be the first truly affordable, mass-market, fully capable 100% electric car the world has ever seen.

But along with the excitement over the price came many questions, one of the biggest of which was “how am I going to charge it?”

During the LEAF announcement, Nissan noted that long-time EV collaborator, AeroVironment, would be engineering and building the LEAF charging stations available for purchase along with the car, and doing the training of certified installers around the US. According to Nissan, the “average cost” of the charging station plus installation would be $2,200. Add in a 50% federal tax credit on the charging station installation and you have a rather affordable answer to the charging question.

Although AeroVironment is largely known for its work with military unmanned aircraft, it was also one of the original collaborators with GM on the Impact EV project (which lead to the now-scrapped EV1). Needless to say, they have quite a bit of experience in engineering electronics.

While I was at the New York Auto Show I snapped some photos of the static LEAF they had on display, and of the charging station they had mocked up next to it. As it turns out, that charging station mock up is exactly what AeroVironment’s LEAF charging stations will look like. So if you’re in the market for a LEAF, now you know what the charging station will do to your garage’s decor.

As quoted recently in a Ward’s Auto article, Kristen Hensel, vice president-EV Solutions for AeroVironment’s Efficient Energy Systems, said “It’s a very good charger, (and) it will work for any car. So whoever owns the home and owns the LEAF, if they sell and move out and a new EV owner purchases that home, the charger will work reliably for years.”

The actual plug aspect of the charger is based on SAE’s newly minted J-1772 standard for level 2 electric car chargers. These chargers are rated at 220V and can accommodate a current from 30-80 Amps depending on what your house is capable of. At those outputs, the amount of electricity supplied to your LEAF’s battery could be between 6 kW (at 30 Amps) and 17 kW (at 80 Amps), more than plenty to charge the 24 kWh battery in just a few hours.

AeroVironment says that just about 1,000 electrician across the country have already signed up to get the needed training to install the charger. If your house is an older house and doesn’t have 220V capability, installation costs could be much higher than the “average” $2,200.

Source: Ward’s Auto


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Not your traditional car guy.



  • ChuckL

    I still object to having my tax dollars used to subsidize a foreign car manufacturer. If the car is a real value, it can stand on tis own merit and should have NO subsidies. It is really bad when it is a foreign car.

    • http://Web Brian

      Chuck,

      Starting in 2011, the Nissan Leaf will be built my Americans in Tennessee. My Chevy Trailblazer is from an American company, but the car was built in Mexico.

      Brian

  • ChuckL

    I still object to having my tax dollars used to subsidize a foreign car manufacturer. If the car is a real value, it can stand on tis own merit and should have NO subsidies. It is really bad when it is a foreign car.

  • Dean

    A foreign car, built in Smyrna, TN providing US jobs…

    • Nick Chambers

      Dean,

      I just might add… by a company that has 10s of thousands of US employees (and growing) and has majorly helped to spawn a new supply industry that will supply 10s of thousands more jobs.

  • Dean

    A foreign car, built in Smyrna, TN providing US jobs…

    • Nick Chambers

      Dean,

      I just might add… by a company that has 10s of thousands of US employees (and growing) and has majorly helped to spawn a new supply industry that will supply 10s of thousands more jobs.

  • Dean

    Nick:

    Yes, that’s the point I was trying to drive home.

    Not only does this provide jobs, but it’s a revolutionary vehicle concept that is a game changer. Several years ago when I first heard of the Chevrolet Volt, I thought that GM would lead the charge on rolling out this type of advanced next-gen vehicle, but Nissan came out of the blue with an affordable, full-on EV…they’re effectively out of the gate first with a vehicle that could finally reduce this country’s reliance on foreign oil.

    What’s not to like about stopping the flow of trillions of dollars out of the United States directly into the hands of dictators, thugs and regimes that would do us harm?

  • Dean

    Nick:

    Yes, that’s the point I was trying to drive home.

    Not only does this provide jobs, but it’s a revolutionary vehicle concept that is a game changer. Several years ago when I first heard of the Chevrolet Volt, I thought that GM would lead the charge on rolling out this type of advanced next-gen vehicle, but Nissan came out of the blue with an affordable, full-on EV…they’re effectively out of the gate first with a vehicle that could finally reduce this country’s reliance on foreign oil.

    What’s not to like about stopping the flow of trillions of dollars out of the United States directly into the hands of dictators, thugs and regimes that would do us harm?

  • Brian

    Your point is well taken, ChuckL. On the surface using our tax dollars to subsidize the purchase of a “foreign” car seems un-American. But consider this. The car burns no gas. If this technology is adopted by the mass-market, other manufacturers will compete (enter the Chevy Volt) and electric cars will become the standard. America will consume less gas and the world will have greater supply of oil thus driving down the price/barrel. With a lower price of oil, we can start to remove the stranglehold that OPEC has over the world. After all, if we do nothing, your dollars still subsize foreigners, just the ones in the middle east instead of the far east. My question to ChuckL is, which foreigners scare you more?

  • Brian

    Your point is well taken, ChuckL. On the surface using our tax dollars to subsidize the purchase of a “foreign” car seems un-American. But consider this. The car burns no gas. If this technology is adopted by the mass-market, other manufacturers will compete (enter the Chevy Volt) and electric cars will become the standard. America will consume less gas and the world will have greater supply of oil thus driving down the price/barrel. With a lower price of oil, we can start to remove the stranglehold that OPEC has over the world. After all, if we do nothing, your dollars still subsize foreigners, just the ones in the middle east instead of the far east. My question to ChuckL is, which foreigners scare you more?

  • Dan Chance

    I like it. I just can’t afford it, but most of the market can and I’m glad to see it.

  • Dan Chance

    I like it. I just can’t afford it, but most of the market can and I’m glad to see it.

  • Constantin

    $349/month lease I think it is very afordable ! + SOLAR POWER = FREEDOM !

  • Constantin

    $349/month lease I think it is very afordable ! + SOLAR POWER = FREEDOM !

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    Chuck, the money Nissan is getting is a *loan*.

    Neil

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    Chuck, the money Nissan is getting is a *loan*.

    Neil

  • Burke

    The price is not that affordable. But we shall see if it like the others they wont sell alot of them

  • Burke

    The price is not that affordable. But we shall see if it like the others they wont sell alot of them

  • Frank Elliott

    Dean,

    THe Leaf is an important car and a game changer for pure EVs, if ony for its price. But I beg to differ with your contention that Nissan is “out of the gate first.” Taking reservations for the vehicle, as Nissan is, doesn’t count. Just ask all the people who have made deposits for the Aptera.

  • Frank Elliott

    Dean,

    THe Leaf is an important car and a game changer for pure EVs, if ony for its price. But I beg to differ with your contention that Nissan is “out of the gate first.” Taking reservations for the vehicle, as Nissan is, doesn’t count. Just ask all the people who have made deposits for the Aptera.

  • Alex

    I want to know why i would want to pay over $1000 for a charging station that i can’t take with me if i move. Also, why can they not engineer the electrical system to charge on 120V power with a standard home outlet? Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of an electric car and i want to be one of the first in line for one, but what about people who do not own a home? these are questions that nissan (or any EV manufacturer) should be prepared to answer.

    • Nick Chambers

      Alex,

      Before you rant, you should know this: The Nissan LEAF, as I’ve said in many past articles, will be chargeable on both 120V and 220V outlets. The charging station is for those who don’t want to spend 12-14 hours charging the car from a standard 120V outlet (theoretically, at 220V/80A your car could be charged in about 2 hours). But if you don’t want to install a charging station, the standard 120V outlet is built right into the car, next to the J1772 outlet underneath a flap on the hood. Just run a heavy duty extension cord from your wall outlet to the car.

      As with anything else that needs installation for renters, figuring out how to make electric cars work will take some extra effort. People who don’t own a home need to work with their landlord or rental agency to convince them to install charging stations. Just like if you want to get satellite TV or install fiber optics you need to make your case with your landlord. Clearly renters are not part of the initial group that EV makers are targeting. As EVs become more prevalent, it will be easy to make the case to get charging stations installed at your rental.

  • Alex

    I want to know why i would want to pay over $1000 for a charging station that i can’t take with me if i move. Also, why can they not engineer the electrical system to charge on 120V power with a standard home outlet? Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of an electric car and i want to be one of the first in line for one, but what about people who do not own a home? these are questions that nissan (or any EV manufacturer) should be prepared to answer.

    • Nick Chambers

      Alex,

      Before you rant, you should know this: The Nissan LEAF, as I’ve said in many past articles, will be chargeable on both 120V and 220V outlets. The charging station is for those who don’t want to spend 12-14 hours charging the car from a standard 120V outlet (theoretically, at 220V/80A your car could be charged in about 2 hours). But if you don’t want to install a charging station, the standard 120V outlet is built right into the car, next to the J1772 outlet underneath a flap on the hood. Just run a heavy duty extension cord from your wall outlet to the car.

      As with anything else that needs installation for renters, figuring out how to make electric cars work will take some extra effort. People who don’t own a home need to work with their landlord or rental agency to convince them to install charging stations. Just like if you want to get satellite TV or install fiber optics you need to make your case with your landlord. Clearly renters are not part of the initial group that EV makers are targeting. As EVs become more prevalent, it will be easy to make the case to get charging stations installed at your rental.

  • Alex

    Nick,

    I’m not “ranting” i just want to make sure i have all my questions answered before i drop this kind of cash on such a new piece of technology that is supposed to replace my current commuting vehicle. I want to see EV adoption on a national scale a reality as much as the anyone but for such a thing to catch on, everything should be out in the open for all to see. Not to say that i am the best researcher in the world, but i’ve been following the leaf for a while and I didn’t know these things that you just told me.

    • Nick Chambers

      Alex,

      Then we’re both agreed… you’re not ranting :) Note, I said, “before you rant” meaning that it seemed like you might be ready to start given enough reason.

  • Alex

    Nick,

    I’m not “ranting” i just want to make sure i have all my questions answered before i drop this kind of cash on such a new piece of technology that is supposed to replace my current commuting vehicle. I want to see EV adoption on a national scale a reality as much as the anyone but for such a thing to catch on, everything should be out in the open for all to see. Not to say that i am the best researcher in the world, but i’ve been following the leaf for a while and I didn’t know these things that you just told me.

    • Nick Chambers

      Alex,

      Then we’re both agreed… you’re not ranting :) Note, I said, “before you rant” meaning that it seemed like you might be ready to start given enough reason.

  • Ron

    To Nick and Alex and anyone else who cares,

    The Nissan Leaf is a True EV car with NO internal combustion engine of any kind, it therefore has no comparison the the Chevy Volt, you still would need to put gas in it to operate, as for Chucks remarks, yes the Leaf will be manufactured in the Good Old USA, and the battery packs will also be manufactured here, and if you own a chevy or a ford, your vehicle was probably built in Mexico, check your vehicles MSO it will tell you where it was built, and if you have any questions or concerns about the Nissan Leaf go to:nissanusa.com, or sign on to facebook and put Nissan Leaf in the search box, there are many informative articles there too.

  • Ron

    To Nick and Alex and anyone else who cares,

    The Nissan Leaf is a True EV car with NO internal combustion engine of any kind, it therefore has no comparison the the Chevy Volt, you still would need to put gas in it to operate, as for Chucks remarks, yes the Leaf will be manufactured in the Good Old USA, and the battery packs will also be manufactured here, and if you own a chevy or a ford, your vehicle was probably built in Mexico, check your vehicles MSO it will tell you where it was built, and if you have any questions or concerns about the Nissan Leaf go to:nissanusa.com, or sign on to facebook and put Nissan Leaf in the search box, there are many informative articles there too.

  • jeffhre

    Every dollar of gas Leaf owners don’t burn is a dollar of overseas oil that won’t need to be imported.

    My understanding is that not only have a lot of US citizens invested in Nissan equities, but that the loans to Nissan will help to build up the electric car supply infrastructure, here in the US, that will ultimately get us off of burning imported oil in cars.

  • jeffhre

    Every dollar of gas Leaf owners don’t burn is a dollar of overseas oil that won’t need to be imported.

    My understanding is that not only have a lot of US citizens invested in Nissan equities, but that the loans to Nissan will help to build up the electric car supply infrastructure, here in the US, that will ultimately get us off of burning imported oil in cars.

  • Dean

    Frank:

    Comparing Nissan to Aptera is apples to oranges…as for seeing how Nissan ramps up full-scale production on an EV, let’s agree to wait and see.

  • Dean

    Frank:

    Comparing Nissan to Aptera is apples to oranges…as for seeing how Nissan ramps up full-scale production on an EV, let’s agree to wait and see.

  • Steve

    Alex,

    You could take the charger with you. It is permanently installed but that is a relative term. It’s probably about 1 hour of labor for an electrician and 20 bucks in parts.

  • Steve

    Alex,

    You could take the charger with you. It is permanently installed but that is a relative term. It’s probably about 1 hour of labor for an electrician and 20 bucks in parts.

  • brianluu

    We recently moved the washer/dryer from the garage to the laundry room upstair. I am wondering if i can use the washer/dryer 220v recepticle to charge the Leaf.

  • brianluu

    We recently moved the washer/dryer from the garage to the laundry room upstair. I am wondering if i can use the washer/dryer 220v recepticle to charge the Leaf.

  • brianluu

    btw, how long do the fed and cali pay the 7k and 5k rebate?

  • brianluu

    btw, how long do the fed and cali pay the 7k and 5k rebate?

  • Doug

    The charging station is removable…however most code requirements will hardwire it to a location. After the code inspect it could be converted to a 30amp dryer plug situation. Nissan is dedicated to making the Leaf work. Bad PR from shoddy or illegal charger installs won’t help this great idea fly. Be careful what you wish for.

  • Doug

    The charging station is removable…however most code requirements will hardwire it to a location. After the code inspect it could be converted to a 30amp dryer plug situation. Nissan is dedicated to making the Leaf work. Bad PR from shoddy or illegal charger installs won’t help this great idea fly. Be careful what you wish for.

  • Pete

    I want to see a photo of the outlet Nick Chambers speaks of with the cap off and with a regular extension cord plugged in and I can’t find this on the Internet. I’ve seen close-up pictures with either the two plastic caps covering the outlets with the one that looks like a regular plug picture on the right or the J-1772 plugged into the one on the right that apparently was “supposed” to be the regular outlet. So I haven’t seen visual proof that it is regular extension cord compatible.

  • Pete

    I want to see a photo of the outlet Nick Chambers speaks of with the cap off and with a regular extension cord plugged in and I can’t find this on the Internet. I’ve seen close-up pictures with either the two plastic caps covering the outlets with the one that looks like a regular plug picture on the right or the J-1772 plugged into the one on the right that apparently was “supposed” to be the regular outlet. So I haven’t seen visual proof that it is regular extension cord compatible.

  • Pete

    Here’s a better picture I just found. As you can see, neither of those looks like a standard NEMA 1 (two parallel vertical blades) or NEMA 5 (two parallel vertical blades and a ground prong) to me. If you look closely, the one on the right is distinctly the five male posts to join with the J-1772 as seen in the picture above in this article. An the one on the left is definitely not the J-1772 jack.

  • Pete

    Here’s a better picture I just found. As you can see, neither of those looks like a standard NEMA 1 (two parallel vertical blades) or NEMA 5 (two parallel vertical blades and a ground prong) to me. If you look closely, the one on the right is distinctly the five male posts to join with the J-1772 as seen in the picture above in this article. An the one on the left is definitely not the J-1772 jack.

  • Pete
    • Nick Chambers

      Pete,

      That is very interesting and not what I remember seeing in early interactions with the prototype. Maybe Nissan has changed their design plans? As you say, the outlet on the right, where I remember the standard 120V outlet being, now looks like it is a J-1772 receptacle, and the outlet on the left is definitely much bigger than a J-1772… perhaps that is a 400V quick charge outlet now and they’ve ditched the idea of having a standard 120V outlet altogether? This would certainly hamper choices for consumers. But then again, at 120V/20 Amp service, the 24 kWh battery would take more than 10 hours to fully charge… perhaps even as many as 12 or 13… which clearly isn’t practical for overnight charging.

      Yep, just checked… if you look at the images in this gallery:
      http://nissannews.com/image-gallery.do;jsessionid=7D86591EF5D78686679397E2BEED3103?imageGalleryId=205&mid=195&method=view

      You’ll see that the right outlet is now a J-1772 and the left outlet is labeled with a “Q,” presumably for “Quick Charge”. You can also see the different plugs they have for the two outlets. Oh well… I eat my words as gracefully as I can. Sorry to get your hopes up.

  • Pete
    • Nick Chambers

      Pete,

      That is very interesting and not what I remember seeing in early interactions with the prototype. Maybe Nissan has changed their design plans? As you say, the outlet on the right, where I remember the standard 120V outlet being, now looks like it is a J-1772 receptacle, and the outlet on the left is definitely much bigger than a J-1772… perhaps that is a 400V quick charge outlet now and they’ve ditched the idea of having a standard 120V outlet altogether? This would certainly hamper choices for consumers. But then again, at 120V/20 Amp service, the 24 kWh battery would take more than 10 hours to fully charge… perhaps even as many as 12 or 13… which clearly isn’t practical for overnight charging.

      Yep, just checked… if you look at the images in this gallery:
      http://nissannews.com/image-gallery.do;jsessionid=7D86591EF5D78686679397E2BEED3103?imageGalleryId=205&mid=195&method=view

      You’ll see that the right outlet is now a J-1772 and the left outlet is labeled with a “Q,” presumably for “Quick Charge”. You can also see the different plugs they have for the two outlets. Oh well… I eat my words as gracefully as I can. Sorry to get your hopes up.

  • Jim

    National Electric Code (NEC 625) prohibits the use of standard extension cords for vehicle charging.

    A special NEC 625 compliant 120 volt (level 1) cord set will be supplied as standard equipment with every LEAF. It will have a NEMA 5 plug on one end to connect to a standard wall outlet, an inline personal protection (ground fault interrupt) device, and a J-1772 connector at the vehicle end.

    The 2010 J-1772 connector standard supports both 120 volt (level 1) and 240 volt (level 2) charging using the same port. LEAF will recognize and adjust to the voltage supplied. 120 volt current draw will be 12 amps.

    • Nick Chambers

      Jim,

      Thanks much for clarifying! Really appreciate it. Mystery solved.

  • Jim

    National Electric Code (NEC 625) prohibits the use of standard extension cords for vehicle charging.

    A special NEC 625 compliant 120 volt (level 1) cord set will be supplied as standard equipment with every LEAF. It will have a NEMA 5 plug on one end to connect to a standard wall outlet, an inline personal protection (ground fault interrupt) device, and a J-1772 connector at the vehicle end.

    The 2010 J-1772 connector standard supports both 120 volt (level 1) and 240 volt (level 2) charging using the same port. LEAF will recognize and adjust to the voltage supplied. 120 volt current draw will be 12 amps.

    • Nick Chambers

      Jim,

      Thanks much for clarifying! Really appreciate it. Mystery solved.

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