Nissan LEAF Will Include Fast Charge Capability and Emergency Charging Cable at Launch

At the Nissan LEAF battery plant groundbreaking yesterday in Smyrna, Tennessee, I made it a goal to squeeze as much detailed information as I could out of Nissan regarding the LEAF and what kinds of equipment it will ship with.

To this point — as is usually the case in the echo chamber that is the internet these days — nobody (including myself… mea culpa) seems to have been able to get it right about two things: whether or not the LEAF will have a Level 3 fast charge receptacle when it ships and if it will be able to use a Level 1 standard 3-prong outlet.

Although it was clear that the LEAF would have Level 2 charging capability (the J-1772 SAE standard 240 volt/up to 60 amp “quick charger”), the lack of standards regarding Level 3 charging and the relatively slow trickle of power that comes out of your standard household outlet (known as Level 1 charging) made it questionable if either of those would be included with the LEAF.

As it turns out, the LEAF will launch with both a receptacle for a Level 2 plug as well as one for a Level 3 plug based on the CHAdeMO DC fast charging standards coming out of Japan, according to Mark Perry, Nissan’s director of product planning and strategy for North America. The receptacle setup on the LEAF will look just like the photos above and below. In those pictures, on the left is the CHAdeMO receptacle and on the right is the J-1772 Level 2 receptacle.

In addition to the Level 3 receptacle, the LEAF will ship with a 7.5 meter (24.5 feet) long “emergency” Level 1 cable that will have a J-1772 plug on one end and a standard 3-prong Level 1 plug on the other. But according to Perry, Nissan doesn’t expect people to use that except very infrequently when they “miscalculate” their range.

In an average situation, a standard household outlet is rated at 110 volts/15 amps, although most people won’t get more than 10-12 amps out of that outlet. So, what that means is that the outlet will put out about 1.1 kW of power and it would take about 22 hours to get the LEAF battery from 0% to 100% full; clearly not a realistic daily charging situation. “So that’s why we think the Level 1 really is just there for that emergency,” said Perry. “In an hour under level 1 charging you might see 4 or 5 miles of additional range added to the battery pack.”

Another interesting tidbit to come out of my meeting with Mark Perry clarified why the LEAF will take 8 hours to charge its 24 kWh battery even when a Level 2 charger is rated at an average of 6 kW, although it can get up to 14.4 kW. At 6 kW you’d expect a 24 kWh battery to take 4 hours to fully charge. However, as Perry explained it, the LEAF battery will be throttled by its onboard Battery Management System to 3.3 kW… hence the approximately 8 hour charge time.

So, even if you get that Level 2 charge station installed in your garage and you max it out at 240 Volts and 60 Amps, you won’t be able to cut the charge time. So, if money’s a concern and it would cost you more to do the high end installation, you might want to settle for the cheaper lower voltage, lower amperage installation. Your LEAF won’t know the difference.

Disclaimer: The author’s travel and lodging expense were paid for by Nissan to attend the groundbreaking.

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.