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 Edmunds.com, 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.