Charging your LEAF at a Nissan dealership

Nissan Dual Charging Dock

Please remember that dealers are doing us a favor

In our readings around the web, we have been truly amazed at some of the attitudes displayed by some LEAF owners. It seems that many new LEAF owners feel that they are somehow entitled to free electricity at any Nissan dealer anywhere, whenever they like. Certainly not all LEAF owners feel this way, but based on the discussions, it appears to be not an infrequent assumption.

Let’s take a look first at Nissan’s corporate policy for a Nissan dealership to be LEAF certified. According to Mark Perry, a high-level Nissan executive, each dealer needs to acquire specialized equipment, training, and charging stations (at an average cost of $50,000) to attain LEAF sales certification. Nissan requires making two charge stations available to the public, but each dealer can operate their publicly mounted equipment as they see fit. According to, there is about a $1,400 difference between the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the dealer’s invoice price on either LEAF model (SV or SL). So a dealership would need to sell over 35 LEAFs to generate the gross income to cover that initial cost. Some dealerships are offering the LEAF at a discount from MSRP, while others are holding (or trying to hold) MSRP. Some west coast dealerships are high-volume LEAF stores, and will meet this number quickly. Some already have. To achieve those sales numbers, they have offered significant discounts, which leads to having to sell even more cars to cover their initial expense. Other stores in other areas could take several months to a year or more to recoup this cost.

Now let’s look at public EVSE locations at Nissan dealerships. Many look similar to the photo above, taken at Mossy Nissan Poway just north of San Diego. These are often prime customer parking locations right in front of the showroom. Keep in mind that a Nissan dealership is a for-profit business. Their prime directive is the selling of cars, service and parts. Giving away electricity and providing free parking, all while taking parking away from potentially paying customers goes against all of that. Certainly, it falls within the “customer service” attribute, to gain additional vehicle, service and parts sales. But at best, it supports those goals – it does not supplant them. Also, keep in mind these are not designated “electric vehicle only” parking places. To do so would be an impractical burden on some dealerships that have very small customer parking facilities.

If we, as Nissan LEAF owners, would like to encourage electric vehicle (EV) adoption, perhaps we could also extend a little courtesy to those Nissan dealerships that are willing to provide these amenities for us, at a not insignificant cost to themselves. With that, we have developed a suggested protocol when you think that you might be in need of the dealership provided charging stations:

  • Call ahead and ask to speak to the Sales Manager. (Almost every Nissan dealership in the country is in your navigation system. Touch Menu>Destination>Places>Auto Service>Dealerships>Nissan Dealer>Near Current Location>(Select preferred dealership listed)>Details. This will provide the name, address, and phone number of the selected dealership. You can call right from this screen by touching the “Call” button on the screen assuming that you have a paired Bluetooth phone connected, and then plot that dealership as a destination.)
  • Ask him (or her) if you can charge your LEAF at their dealership
  • Upon arrival, ask for that Sales Manager by name
  • Offer to leave your key (if planning to leave the premises) so that they may move your car if needed. (Remember, your car will alert you when charging is done, or it is unplugged via CARWINGS. You did set up CARWINGS, didn’t you?)
  • Thank them for extending this hospitality
  • If they were particularly courteous or helpful, think about purchasing a LEAF license plate frame or some other small item from their parts department

With a little common courtesy extended on our part, Nissan dealers will be more likely to continue to offer this service even after more public infrastructure is available.

This entry was posted in Battery/Charging Experience, Charging Infrastructure, Dealer Service, Dealership Experience, Is the Nissan LEAF right for me?, LEAF 101, LEAF Information, LEAF Ownership. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Charging your LEAF at a Nissan dealership

  1. neil bettenhausen says:

    Good advice, Ernie.

  2. Walter says:

    Good advice, but there are also some bad apple Nissan dealers out there as well.

    Even though Nissan dealers list their chargers online as available to the public, SOME dealers have been known to deny use to the public (especially Leaf owners that are not their direct customers). No question as to their rights as a dealership, but listing their chargers as available to the public (purely as a sales tactic) when that’s really not the case is contradictory, frustrating and to me, smacks of a lack of support for their own product (direct customer or not).

    • Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) says:

      Walter – welcome to Living LEAF, and thanks for your comment.

      I absolutely agree with you. When I wrote this post over a year ago, there were many LEAF owners (and in some cases there still are) that seemed to have a sense of entitlement about getting free electricity anywhere, not just at Nissan dealerships. Personally, I wish that Nissan could mandate that all Nissan dealerships would make their charging docks available to any EV, not just LEAFs. But as you pointed out, some dealerships will not even offer their charging docks to non-dealership customers. Not really the attitude to help engender good will amongst the masses, and one reason I suggested the proposal near the bottom of the post. Perhaps that will encourage a change in behavior.

  3. NorskeDiv says:

    Nissan seems to have not really thought through the idea of providing free charging stations at Nissan Dealers. On the one hand Nissan lists many many dealers on their custom charge point site, yet in reality many of these dealers are less than co-operative when it comes to actually charging there. In the case of one dealer not far from me, Nissan lists their charger as being free when it reality it is only free for customers that purchased from that dealership. I am hardly going to be charging at a dealership that is a few blocks from my house, so what use is that to me?

    Nissan’s idea of getting charger installed at dealers is nice in theory, but Nissan should have stipulated more specifically where the charging stations could be located for dealers to be reimbursed part of the cost by Nissan. If the chargers are really supposed to be something that Leaf owners can rely on, they should NOT be placed in prime parking right in front of the showroom. Instead they should be put to the side with clearly marked EV only paint on the ground.

    Even better would be if it were an area apart from the main lot had the charger, so that it would be accessible at night when the gate is closed.

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      NorskeDiv – Welcome to Living LEAF. Every Nissan dealer is a franchise, which means that they follow Nissan guidelines but are still independent. As far as who the dealership lets use their equipment, that is a case by case basis. It seems that Nissan is encouraging dealers to associate with an existing EV charging network. This should provide some level of consistency, but the network fees will likely apply.

  4. David says:

    With all due respect for property rights, free enterprise, and civility, I still find this article shirt-sighted. ( It seems something like Bill Gates trying to convince Steve Jobs that lack of design in Windows is just the right thing for seller and buyer, and just being laughed at).

    To make my sense of the design flaw clearer, just imagine that every time you try to fill your ICE with gas, you have to make a reservation, ask for cars to be moved out of the way, navigate inconsistent gates, hours, and driveways, or be interrogated by employees or security guards. Now, multiply that by 100 times since car charging is done way more often.

    So you should be able to see with that vivid example that for EV use to become mainstream cost-effective, the space must be available when you drive into it, with minimum effort and risk.

    I would encourage Nissan dealers and hosts everywhere to design in consistency, safety, and hospitality. EV users need to know that if they drive to an EV site that they will not be blocked, turned away, harassed, interrogated, criminalizes, or without necessities such as the ability to sleep, exercise, or get info on a nearby bathroom.

    Police should fine and order tow for ICE within 5 minutes of being called. Signs should say “We are pleased to host EV charging on an as-is basis 24/7. We recognize that EV users’ security interests are aligned with ours. Nearest after-hours bathrooms are…. Feel free to sleep in your car or walk around using reasonable care. Please call police or our security company if you witness any suspicious activity”.

    • Ernie Hernandez says:

      David – Welcome to Living LEAF.

      This article was written in 2011. The EV infrastructure has changed significantly since the article was written, but will continue to develop and grow over time.

  5. BRIAN Scott HAMILTON says:

    Here’s the thing. When I bought my car, the dealership told me I could charge at any Nissan dealership. The map installed in my car lists every dealership that has a charging station as a place where I can charge. PlugShare lists them as places I can charge. Google Maps lists them as places where I can charge. And yet, I have only found one dealership that lets me charge my car.

    If they don’t want me charging at their dealership, they need to take the dealership off their maps. It is false advertising to say that people can charge there if they can’t. It shouldn’t be my responsibility to have to call ahead and make sure the manager I spoke to is going to be there to ensure it’s okay to charge my car.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.