So… What is CARWINGS?
What CARWINGS is not, is OnStar. While in Japan operators are available to provide routing assistance to provide for traffic avoidance, no such service is available in the United States; at least not at this time. Based on the information that we could find (which, it seems, is somewhat scarce to say the least), there appears to be no emergency advisor service available for CARWINGS users. There is no indication that this service will be available at any point in the future from Nissan. Now that we have that out of the way, what is CARWINGS, and what does it provide for its users? Let’s find out.
CARWINGS provides user information about vehicle history. The service provides user data such as number of trips taken (daily or monthly), amount of energy used and distance traveled. We see no real value in most of this information as it is primarily trivial or unhelpful. We have driven for almost forty years and have never seen the need to know how many trips we have taken on a particular day, or in a particular month. And while the energy consumption at first glance may seem useful, it does not correlate with energy usage from the wall, as it apparently takes regeneration into account. We are more interested in how much energy we actually pay for. In that sense the second electrical meter, installed along with the installation of the Blink charging dock, is much more useful. Which leaves distance traveled.
Distance traveled can be a useful historical reference as it provides an easily accessed database of vehicle usage. The fact that it can be tracked by the month or by the year is convenient. But other than offering the ability to track this information without having to write it down somewhere or actively track it, it offers no additional compelling reason to want CARWINGS.
In short, CARWINGS provides Nissan with a way to monitor vehicle data and certain performance criteria, while offering some moderately useful information to the user. As a developmental tool, this is undoubtedly a wealth of composite information which should be extremely useful to Nissan as user patterns and vehicle information is sent upstream. For this reason alone, in the current state of development of the electric vehicle (EV) industry, this seems to be reason enough for the technology to exist. However, from a consumer’s point of view, there really is not a lot compelling us to pay for the service once the three year complementary service period ends.
Certainly, there is some additional functionality offered – the ability to remotely check state of charge, or turn on the climate control. In our three months of ownership, we have found no need to use any of the services provided by CARWINGS. The car notifies the owner when a full state of charge is reached. As we charge our car during super off-peak hours, the middle of the night notification of a full charge is of no particular benefit. Others may disagree with our assessment, but, at least at the moment, as currently configured, CARWINGS is more of an interesting exercise in technology than a beneficial consumer feature.