Glitch number one resolved – finally
On April 17 we wrote that we discovered our first problem with our LEAF ownership. And as it happened, it wasn’t a problem with the car, but with the Blink EVSE. The plug that connects with the vehicle would physically not plug into the car due to a deformed moisture o-ring inside the nozzle. Here is a picture of the deformed o-ring:
You can see at the top of the o-ring that it has pulled away from the edge. It looks as if it snagged on a burr on the car connector and pulled away from the housing. Due to this deformation, the connector would not plug into the car. The only problem with this theory is that the 120-volt EVSE supplied with the car is working just fine. Here is a picture of the portable EVSE nozzle after using it on the car for the past five weeks:
As you can see, no deformation has taken place, and there is no indication that the o-ring has snagged on anything in the same location. And just for comparison, this is what the correct Blink connector looks like (after being plugged into the car several times to make sure that it would function properly):
The EVProject sent out a sub-contractor with a replacement line and connector, which is what we expected. The unit itself seems to be working just fine. At least it was when we used it last. Our issue is the timing of the repair.
We sent an email to the regional EVProject representative in San Diego on April 11. We did this because nowhere on the EVProject website is there a support page. We knew that the Blink was provided by the EVProject, and that was where we signed up, so we figured that is where we should go for service. Apparently not, as we never heard a word back from the San Diego representative. So after a week went by (we are fairly patient), we grabbed the Blink owner’s manual and found a phone number to call on the back cover. We called and talked to the person that we mentioned in our April 17 article. Nice guy. But still nothing a week later. So on the 24th or 25th of April, we found our way to the blinknetwork website, clicked on the “Contact Us” link and politely asked them via their submission form on that page if they would please come out and fix our Blink. Which finally happened this morning – 18 days after our initial contact.
Five weeks after acquiring our LEAF we have racked up a grand total of 532 miles on our car. Many do not find themselves in our situation, and would have been hard pressed to be so patient with the resolution of this problem. Had we needed the Blink to be functional, we would have pressed harder and more quickly for a timely resolution. But since that was not the case, we wanted to evaluate the Blink customer service model. Even if we take out the errant original email to our EVProject regional office (which, one would think, would still have an interest in resolving support issues), and just count the elapsed time from our initial phone call to customer service, it still took almost two weeks to resolve.
Interestingly enough, when the contractor left, he told us that the network settings would need to be reset as the power was removed for the connector replacement. But when the unit was powered up again, it retained everything that had been programmed into it previously. There is a battery inside maintaining the integrity of that information that the contractor was not aware of apparently.
With our Blink functioning again, we look forward to being able to charge on our EV rate as opposed to our residential rate. So there was some financial impact to our experiment, but it was not so great that it overrode our desire to evaluate the Blink support system. At either rate, it still costs us less per mile than our conventionally powered minivan.
After waiting almost a full year, I finally took delivery of my LEAF on Saturday April 30th. What a thrilling event.
While I was talking to the LEAF specialist at Boardwalk Nissan, he told me that the installs for the funded Blink units are way past due and the contractors are having a lot of trouble doing the installs. When I first was accepted in the program, I was told that the unit would be installed prior to delivery of the vehicle. I was patient and only followed up when the due date was very close. No response from the contractor. I do have a work ticket number, but that isn’t much comfort. I now see there may be issues with the units they are installing (connectors and internet access). Wonder if I should just pay the $2,000 and get the unit from Aerovironment. I have not seen complaints with their equipment, other than the price.
John – first, congratulations on your delivery! I know the feeling of taking ownership of this new technology, and you are right – it is a thrill.
Regarding your EVSE installation. I can’t speak to any of the contractors up in the Bay Area. If you haven’t already, check out the Bay Area meeting thread of the mynissanleaf.com forum. I have attended some of the LEAF meetups in the San Diego area, and they are helpful ways of getting real info from others. While it took time for ECOtality to resolve my issue, the unit itself works fine. No network issues at all (my router is in my office above the garage). If your router is a great distance from the garage, you might want to consider a range extender, which would also benefit wi-fi at that end of the house. As I have not heard of any issues similar to mine, it could have just been a defective o-ring.
We were able to get by just fine on the 120-volt EVSE supplied with the car while awaiting the repair of our Blink. If you can get by with the 120-volt until installation, I would certainly try the Blink first. If it doesn’t perform to your satisfaction, you can always go with something else at that point. Good luck!
Thanks Ernie. I am sure I will need the network range extender and I will check out the thread.
First drive to work today. Fun to watch the dashboard change as I drove. Kept my speed down since I don’t have the 220 charger yet.
I’ve had my leaf since September 8th. Last Sunday evening, I tried to insert the Blink nozzle into the car fitting . It would not engage. The trickle charger did fine. After calling blink, they determined the blink nozzle has pulled a plastic pin off from the leaf and jammed into it’s socket. They did not send anyone out unil 5 days later to do a visual inspection. I was surprised to find out that the repair guy did not have any repair parts and would have to special order replacement nozzle. I thought it odd when he said he was just the supervisor and did not know anything about electrical work. Great. So still waiting for blink repair.
Hal – welcome to Living LEAF.
Congratulations on getting your new LEAF! If your trickle charge cord is working, it seems that there was no damage to any electrical connections on the car side of the connection. If somehow the LEAF side connection was damaged (even just a plastic pin), I would want to have the dealer look at it also, and verify that the 240 volt charge system will, in fact, work when plugged in. Good luck.