LEAF outsells Altima where there is infrastructure

by Ernie Hernandez on August 25, 2013

INFOGRAPHIC: Leafing Out

Georgia state incentives help in Atlanta

Nissan LEAF is the best selling Nissan model in Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why. All three of these markets are densely populated with the oh so important DC quick chargers that allow for either greater trip distances, or a quick top up when running errands around town. Let’s take a look at the density of the DC quick charge infrastructure in these three areas using maps pulled from plugshare.com, our favorite crowd-sourced mapping database.

This is what the quick charge situation looks like in Portland, Oregon:

Portland130825

From well above Portland, around Ridgefield, down to Salem south of Portland, it seems as if it would be pretty easy to take an extended trip without fear of not being able to return home. According to PlugShare, this map shows twenty-seven stations.

Now let’s take a look at San Francisco:

SanFrancisco130825

From San Francisco proper down to the south bay and on into San Jose, there are so many quick charge stations that they overlap each other on the map. We maintained the same scale on each of our maps to show the proper relative density from area to area. Thirty-five locations are located on this map.

Continuing our alphabetical look at these big three LEAF markets this is what Seattle looks like:

Seattle130825

Perhaps not quite as densely populated as Portland or the bay area, but still pretty easy to get from Tacoma to Everett up north. There are thirteen stations along the way.

While it is true that Los Angeles and Atlanta sold more units than did Portland and Seattle, other Nissan models outsold the LEAF in those markets. Georgia offers a $5,000 incentive which when combined with the $7,500 Federal tax credit provides a $12,500 price reduction. This allowed Atlanta to come in third behind San Francisco and Los Angeles. When leasing a LEAF these combined incentives create some very attractive alternatives to driving a gas guzzler. And Southern California just sells a lot of cars – electric and otherwise – which is why LA and San Diego do as well as they do.

But comparing the Southern California charging infrastructure to points north, the quick charge scarcity is easy to see. Let’s start with the greater Los Angeles market:

LosAngeles130825

If one had a carefully laid out route, and it happened to coincide with the few DC quick chargers along the way, one might be able to use their LEAF for longer trips. This is such a spread out metropolitan area though that it would not be easy to cover vast distances conveniently. Only sixteen stations spread over this large area. Finally, let’s take a look at the San Diego market:

SanDiego130825

A grand total of eight quick charge stations. One of the eight is only for use by the San Diego Gas & Electric fleet, and one other is not yet online. To be fair there is one location that is not shown. It is roughly fifty miles northeast of San Diego. If I were to guess, I would guess that it has not been a high-use station since coming online.

While early efforts to install public charging stations specified 240-volt Level 2 charging docks, it is clear that the driving force for electric vehicle (EV) uptake is having a robust Level 3 infrastructure in place if not heavily subsidized by the state government in addition to the federal government. At some point, incentives are going to go away. Infrastructure doesn’t. It seems like a no brainer to figure out how to sell more EVs.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian August 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

Can you do a map of Atlanta like you did above?

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) August 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Brian – Welcome to Living LEAF. Sure – here you go:

http://livingleaf.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Atlanta130826.jpg

I can’t include the image in the comment, but you can see it in the link. As you can see, there are zero DC quick chargers in Atlanta. As I mentioned in the article, Atlanta sales are strong due to the $12,500 incentives currently. Chicago has about 15 quick charge stations, combined with a $4,000 state incentive. The challenge in Chicago is the cold weather. The cold reduces the day-to-day driving range of the car due to battery chemistry. My sense is that once LEAF driving range gets up to 150 miles or so (hoping to see that with LEAF 2.0 as a 2016 model year), you may see LEAF sales improve even more in cold climate locales.

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Brian August 27, 2013 at 6:04 am

Thanks for the quick response. I hadn’t realized that none had been built yet. I know there are plans to build them up, here in Atlanta, however. I’m sure many people will be excited when they finally do.

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Bo Henriksson August 27, 2013 at 11:13 am

Fast chargers? Infrastructure?
There is not a single fast charger in the entire North Carolina.
There is not even a single level 2 charger (outside a couple of dealers) within my Leaf range in the Greensboro-Triad area (with a million strong population!) This severely hampers the practicality of this vehicle.
I can’t believe that Nissan invested 6 billion, the government untold billions in addition to the other plug in makers (Chevy, Toyota) and they so completely failed to provide the simplest part if the equation – the charging!
It’s not rocket science that’s required! 240 V is everywhere! An EVSE is just a glorified plug with some safety features. I don’t expect the government to do anything but I did expect the manufacturers to do better. Lets say a dozen level 2 charger groups in places like shopping malls, movie theaters and restaurants would radically increase the usefulness of the Leaf. The cost would be minuscule and the manufacturers would recoup that in a minute in increased EV sales.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) August 28, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Mr. Henriksson – Welcome to Living LEAF. Infrastructure development is a challenge in a country as vast as the US. This is the primary reason that Nissan chose to roll out the LEAF gradually across the country. The expectation is that early adopters (which all LEAF owners still are – let’s face it, the car has only been out three years while the automobile has been around well over a hundred) will be those that can operate within the LEAF’s current capabilities. Thousands have already chosen to pursue this path. It is already proven (Tesla) that EVs can be produced that will travel over 200 miles on a single charge. And they cost more than twice as much as a LEAF. The EV is not yet a replacement for everyone’s everyday car. But it is an alternative that more are choosing every day. They have discovered that they operate within its current capabilities.

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