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Don’t Screw It Up

August 31st, 2010

Recently, my boss gave me an assignment with vague instruction, including the solitary bit of guidance:  “Don’t screw it up.

This edict echoed in my mind yesterday, when I read a story at Autobloggreen about some troubles that a few prospective Nissan Leaf purchasers are facing regarding having a car charger installed in their garage.  It seems Aerovironment, the maker of the de facto Leaf charger, has an installation mechanism that may not be as flexible as it needs to be.  The result is that installation fees, in many cases, are higher than they should be.  Significantly higher.  Outrageously, ridiculously higher.

Nissan made it known a while back that the average price for the charger, including installation in your garage, would be about $2,200.  Some folks were surprised (and perturbed) to find out that much of this cost is for the actual installation.  And now, a subset of these people are understandably pissed to discover that, even if their garage is pre-wired for the charger (meaning installation consists of a couple of bolts and actually plugging in the unit), they might be paying $1,200 for the installation alone.

Obviously, there will be cases where the Leaf charger installation will should cost much less (or much more) than average.  It disturbs me to think that installation guidelines and pricing policies may be such that all installation circumstances can’t be suitably handled, with the result being a lot of frustrated (and ultimately former) potential EV purchasers.  When people ask me why I think electric-drive vehicles will be successful THIS TIME around, my honest response is that, this time, we’re doing it differently.  We’re doing it right.  We’re introducing vehicles and building charging infrastructure on a scale that’s unprecedented, and that paves the way for even broader commercialization in the future.  There’s momentum and support from the auto makers, the general public, and federal, state, and local governments.

…But it’s a balancing act.  A few mis-steps could derail the whole process. And this is an example, as trivial as it is, of one such stumble.

Fortunately, purchasers of the Leaf have other sources for a home charger, and may even be able to get one for free.  But if the whole experience of acquiring an electric vehicle and the required charger is a pain in the ass, it’s not going to happen.

So, please, don’t screw this up.

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