Nissan and Green Parking Council Team Up to Deploy Fast Charging Stations

By · December 05, 2013

A Nissan branded CHAdeMO station in use at Premier Nissan in Fremont, Calif.

This week the Green Parking Council (GPC) and Nissan announced a partnership in which the Japanese automaker is offering significant funding and charging station hardware to GPC members, as long as they commit to an accelerated installation schedule. The program is an extension of announcements by Nissan throughout 2013 that it will subsidize a CHAdeMO-based fast charging network across the U.S.

Nissan is in a race against the coming of wave of electric cars offering a new DC Fast Charging (DCFC) protocol, SAE's Combo Charging System (CCS). Several electric cars going on sale soon will support CCS, and over the long term CCS may take over the fast charging market. While the Nissan LEAF (and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) have long supported DC Fast Charging, with its CHAdeMO port, the U.S. has been slow to adopt CHAdeMO charging infrastructure, with only about 306 CHAdeMO charging stations in the U.S. according to the CHAdeMO Association. Nissan is apparently seeking an advantage by offering wide access to CHAdeMO infrastructure while CCS is still in its infancy.

Nissan is now taking proposals for new installations, with a deadline on Dec. 6 for DC Fast Charging projects from parking infrastructure operators, which can be commercial areas, workplaces or residential communities.

Proposals must support the CHAdeMO charging protocol, because Nissan is focused on building up fast charging infrastructure for the Nissan LEAF and other potential Nissan EVs. The hardware choice will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and Nissan might support charging stations with the Combo Charging System protocol, as long as they are dual-port stations also offeringCHAdeMO.

The target markets include Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Boston, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Seattle-Tacoma, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Atlanta, and Houston. These are top ten cities for LEAF sales. Locations in other areas will be considered.

Breaking Down Obstacles to EV Adoption

Nissan is not interested in owning the charging stations, but in facilitating more host sites for fast charging infrastructure. Nissan's team will work with host sites to identify the business and ownership model that makes sense for each site. A host site might work with a charging station network like NRG's eVgo or ChargePoint, for example.

One issue holding back fast charging infrastructure are demand charges. Some utility companies impose these charges on customers whose electricity demand comes in bursts, such as when a car plugs into a fast charging station providing 50 kilowatts of power from the grid. Nissan explained that, depending on local utility company rate structures, suitable charging hardware choices could mitigate demand charges. For example, a 20-kilowatt station is required in some locales to avoid demand charges, while in many locations 50-kilowatt service is acceptable.

Public access is a key issue for Nissan, as it builds extensive public fast charging infrastructure for the LEAF. Nissan said it will consider supporting a closed-access fast charging station, if it's at a workplace with thousands of employees, but will strongly prefer projects where the stations are available to the public, even if there's a parking fee.

Interested parties must be willing to move very fast, and complete the project by the end of March 2014. Visit the Green Parking Council website for details.

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