Charging Cable - Standard With Every Plug-In Today. But Should They Be An Option? (new Mitsubishi i-MiEV style shown)

Charging Cable - Standard With Every Plug-In Today. But Should They Be An Option? (new Mitsubishi i-MiEV style shown)

Currently, Nissan is a selling replacement EVSE (the charging cable for the LEAF) for over $600.  But how much does it actually cost to manufacture?  I don't think anyone but Nissan and Panasonic really know the answer, however if it is adding even half that much to the cost of the car, then here's a thought.  Don't include one with the car.

Think about it.  If you are buying an all-electric car like the Leaf then most users are going to spend the money to buy a 240V EVSE for their garage because depending on 120V for charging is not practical for most people because it would be impossible to drive more than around 40-50 miles per day unless you could charge at work and home.  Thus, a large portion of your battery is just not available for use.

Even half or more of the PHEV drivers opt to buy a 240V charging station so that they may drive more miles on electric.

So here's how that usually works.  People put the 120V EVSE back in the car "for emergencies" but after the first time somebody tries to use 120V in an emergency they realize a tow-truck may be a better answer.  Thus, for most drivers, the 120V unit never gets used.  I know mine hasn't.  It has spent 99% of its time tucked away in the back of my LEAF.

Many Plug-In Vehicle Owners Opt For Have A 240V Charging Station AT Home

Many Plug-In Vehicle Owners Opt For Have A 240V Charging Station AT Home

So it occurs to me that most drivers are buying two EVSEs, one that is bundled with the price of the car, and one to actually USE.  That seems like a waste of money.  And if the price of a new base-model Leaf is $28,800 then imagine if they could drop that a few hundred bucks down to $28,400.  And, IF they could find another $400 of savings, they might be able to break into the $27,990 range or something.

Two solutions present themselves to me. 

  • Solution 1 - Don't include an EVSE with the car.  If the buyer wants to have the 120V unit, they can buy it at the parts counter just like they would buy a toneau cover.  In the end, the customer might still pay the same amount but that would allow the car manufacturer to drop the price of the car.  It could potentially save a lot of people several hundred Dollars since they would only have to buy one EVSE instead of two.
  • Solution 2 - Include an EVSE with the car, but make it a portable 120v/240v auto sensing unit.  Also make sure it is easily wall-mountable but still very portable.  That way, at least the EVSE that comes with the car will likely be good enough to use everyday and the customer won't need to buy an additional EVSE.

BMW i3 Charging Cable - They All Have Them Included (Euro shown - not 120V US)

BMW i3 Charging Cable - They All Have Them Included (Euro shown - not 120V US)

I'll admit, being an EV pioneer like myself, I did feel comfortable knowing I had an alternate method to charge my car should my primary unit break down.  This is especially true being there were no public charging stations in my area at the time, except for the Nissan dealer.  And most likely if I needed a replacement EVSE back then, it might have taken days to get one.

Of course, my primary has never broken in 3 years, so I guess it was not an issue.   But things are a lot better now.  EVSEs are easy to get and there are plenty of public chargers in my area now.  So I really see no need for a redunant one to be carried around in the car.

And one last thing.  It is only a matter of time before more low-life thieves become aware of the value of an EVSE and start targeting Leafs and Volts looking for one to steal.  This is only due to the fact that so many redundant, unused units are being carried around in the backs of cars.  By helping to eliminate that issue, they may be preventing break-ins.