Nissan Dealer: WattStation Charger Can Damage Nissan LEAF, GE: Our Charger Is Fine
General Electric’ WattStation charger can damage the Nissan LEAF, according to a Bay Area Nissan dealership and some LEAF owners. The issue first came to light in February of this year, as owners started to getting warnings from the unit, and their cars later failed to receive a charge, causing damage to the onboard charger.
Hanlee Hilltop Nissan confirmed in an interview with PluginCars that Nissan North America’s regional operations manager sent out emails to dealers on Thursday alerting them to the problem.
One of the issues mentioned at the online community, MyNissanLEAF, was as follows:
“We’ve had our Leaf since May 19th but only driven it about 350 miles so far… charged it with our GE Wattstation maybe 6 or 7 times. Plugged it in to charge last Thursday, the charger came on, the charging lights on the car started blinking and then everything went off. Tried multiple times. Took it to a nearby Nissan dealer to plug into their charger. Nothing. Tried the trickle charger at home. Nothing. The Nissan Dealer we got it from came to our house Friday to run diagnostics which said the on-board charger was bad and he told us they knew of problems with the GE chargers causing this.”
The problem seems to affect a diode in the LEAF’s onboard charging system. PlugInCars reports that in one case, GE offered to replace a LEAF owner’s WattStation, but that owner was instructed by his dealer not to use the replacement or Nissan would not repair his car under warranty if the problem occurred again.
GE’s own Sean Gannon confirmed that the problem is limited to the LEAF, and has affected 11 LEAF owners in total. Sean also points out that the WattStation is “designed and tested to the SAE J1772 and appropriate UL standards and these tests have been validated by an independent third party” and that “GE has been actively working with Nissan to help determine the source of this issue, which has been raised by 11 Nissan Leaf owners,” indicating that a problem may be on hand.
Mr. Gannon also told InsideEVs directly (in the comment section) that:
“Regarding the charging issue raised by 11 Nissan Leaf owners who had GE WattStation Wall Mounts, GE’s current analysis does not indicate that the WattStation is the cause of the reported failures…while GE has been actively working with Nissan to help determine the source of this issue, we are not saying — as your story states — that GE’s WattStation Wall Mount has caused damage to any vehicle.
Since its launch in 2011, GE’s WattStation Wall Mount has performed as designed, thousands of units have been shipped, and it has received positive reviews from EV drivers. The GE WattStation has not encountered a similar issue with other brands of electric.”
So does 11 similar incidents with a LEAF, and none with other brands of electric vehicle mean there is an issue with the WattStation, or with the Nissan LEAF? Or is it all coincidence? We will leave that up to you to decide. In the meantime, we will watch this story for further details.
WattStation also makes a commercial charger, and no reports of damage from these machines has yet been reported.
Updated: Comments from GE (2:35 pm, July 16, 2012)