Op-Ed: Don’t Include An EVSE With Plug-In Vehicle Pricing

JAN 9 2014 BY DAVID MURRAY 37

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)

The Nissan LEAF Comes With This 120V ESE and a "Nifty" Carrying Bag

The Nissan LEAF Comes With This 120V ESE and a “Nifty” Carrying Bag

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

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.

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37 Comments on "Op-Ed: Don’t Include An EVSE With Plug-In Vehicle Pricing"

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Hint, it doesn’t cost them even half that to make the thing. The car isn’t functional without it. Hell, I’ve been arguing forever that 240V EVSE “cords” should be included in all US vehicles (Tesla includes it in theirs) just like European customers are given a cord that can plug in to their *standard* stronger 240V sockets. New EV customers would be rubbed the wrong way, needlessly hassled and annoyed, by not being given a plug for their plug in. It is sooo much more worth it to have it come standard instead of an option. A non-optional option. That’s wrong. And they cost less to make in volume than you think, I promise you.

Hey, your second option is perfect. EVSEs are such a sore point that I didn’t bother reading. Yes, including a portable cord EVSE that can do either 120v or 240V is THE best answer.

I also agree with solution 2.

FWIW, for us the 110v EVSE has been our primary charging mode, having served us well for 1.5 years and nearly all of our modest >6000 miles, out in the rain with a 12-gauge extension cord to boot (the extension cord did need replacement after a year…).

It has suited our needs and the peculiarities of our home infrastructure, and I further daresay that an EVSE is very important for branching out into people living in apartments, street parking, etc. So perhaps this op-ed is written from a perspective that assumes everyone will always have the means and the space to install their own L2 charger. That’s not true.

But I agree, a 110/240 EVSE with the relevant adapters will be much more viable as an emergency device, which is its official purpose.

I also agree with solution #2. There is a lot of speculation that Nissan doesn’t do this in the US because of their contract with Aerovironment – who is their preferred supplier of in-home 240V EVSEs. (Well, 208V …. which is a pain when charging at a Nissan dealer.) Of course, in Europe there is no 110V and probably no Aerovironment contract. However, I think you do need to include the EVSE with the car, at least for another 4-5 years. Seriously, how many EV buyers in the last 2 years had an EVSE at home ready to use? Almost none. Yeah, a few of you early innovators in 2011 had to have the home inspection for EVSE up front, etc. etc. But that’s not a way to sell the car to the masses. Most of us recent buyers get the car, get home, plug it into the 110V outlet, then wait until deciding to get a more powerful home EVSE. No EVSE creates a barrier to sales. Every car salesperson on the planet will tell you that you don’t want to do anything that delays closing the sale when the buyer is in the showroom – and telling them… Read more »

Yep, you showed the BMW i3 and how it includes a 240V cord. Because they already have to sell many of their European customers 240V equipment anyway. So why not give it to everyone. Huzzah. The answer.

I’ma shutup after this, but you should know already that the OEMs can put out the evse-cords for cheaper than $300 because you can already buy third party 240V evse-cords for less than $300 who don’t have the advantage of volume or wholesale fabrication prices.

I have not looked but I am unaware that we can buy third party 240V evse-cords for less than $300. Please share any information about this, I am sure it will be popular.

Google “OpenEVSE”. The 30A Leviton J1772 cord is $130, a “board” will set you back ~$90, and the rest is cheap electric parts.

Thanks pjwood … when I saw “you can already buy third party 240V evse-cords for less than $300”, I did not understand that to mean one can build it yourself for less than $300.

I think it is generally understood that an L2 EVSE is an extension cord with a small amount of electronics, and I do believe the EV community will benefit as these items become cheaper.

Meh. You really have to have one even if it is just for emergencies. I don’t think cutting $300 off the price of the car will be a significant advantage to get rid of the Level-1 EVSE that comes with the car.

Solution 2 would be my preferred option. Many LEAF owners I know (including me) send their OEM EVSE over to evseupgrade.com and they upgrade it to function it on both 120/208/240V.

Works great!

Also – Tesla already does this and has done it for years!

Agreed Dave. My bud just took delivery of his LEAF and two days later I had him pack up his EVSE for conversion. This should be the standard unit.

I sent my 2013 EVSE to evseupgrade.com and now a have a 120/240 EVSE. It works flawlessly and in my opinion, it was money well spend.

I don’t doubt that the L1 EVSE is generously marked up, but, speaking for myself, I’ve used it several times, not just for “emergencies”, mostly at work to plug into our parking garage. So, everyone’s circumstances are different. But, I do think it’s a good idea to have cheaper alternatives.

I think both options should be available as a point of negotiation when purchasing an electric vehicle. Option two would be good for first time buyers that have not set up an optimal charging infrastructure but need something to charge up their vehicle. Option one is good for people buying a second electric vehicle or someone that has set up their charging infrastructure ahead of time.

My question is – when my lease is up in 2 years on my FFE, can I keep the L1 EVSE that came with the car or is that considered part of the car?

For the first several months, that’s all I used — the 8A 120V 960W (not even on 1kW!) EVSE that came with the i-MiEV. For my short journeys back and forth to work, that’s all I needed. There are several people in the forums I visit that do the same thing.

I made the jump to a 240V EVSE because of two reasons:
1. I had to make an emergency journey in my i-MiEV that was just barely out of its single-charge range. Charging at the destination (at ~3 miles per hour charge rate) was stupidly slow.
2. Pre-heating the car was worthless with the 960W EVSE.

I got an inexpensive Clipper Creek charging unit, added a NEMA 14-50 plug on it (modern dryer plug/RV plug), and now I have a portable 240V 20A EVSE that I can take in emergencies and plug into a 14-50 outlet.

Having an auto-switching portable EVSE with adapters for most modern plugs would be ideal, and shouldn’t cost much more than the crappy 120V EVSE they include.

If you consider that most of the electronic devices that Panasonic manufacture will accept 120V or 240V, it is really strange that the Nissan Leaf EVSE only accepts 120V.

From an Engineering standpoint it is almost no work to support both voltages. Bear in mind that the car is smart enough to charge from 120V or 240V, it does not care. The only thing that is 120V only is the electronics inside the EVSE, which needs DC that is provided by a tiny adapter inside the EVSE.

I assume it was a product/marketing decision to limit the US EVSE to 120V only. It is great that evseupgrade is around to help.

I like the second option (what Tesla is doing). A 120V only cord is close to worthless and a switchable 240V one with adapters doesn’t cost much more to make. So all included EVSEs should be the switchable type.

Option 1 is okay if it’s easy to obtain one separately at an affordable price.

Quick Charge Power actually offers the Tesla “UMC” (portable EVSE) modified for J1772 to be used in virtually all EV applications. Yes, it retains the adjustable amperage based on which wall plug is installed, from 12 to 40 amps.

sales@QuickChargePower.com

I tried to find out more about your company …. http://www.QuickChargePower.com does not work. Do you have a web site?

Sorry, the website is being updated at the moment.

Hopefully, it will be up in a few weeks.

I lease a Leaf, and I’ve only ever charged it at 120 in my garage, using the supplied evse and my already-in-place wiring. If I had to buy the evse at the absurdly high price Nissan charges, it would likely not have kept me from getting the car, but I would have thought twice about it and given them at least $600 worth of grief over it. There’s no bloody way that’s a $600 part.

Solution 2 sounds fine to me, as I realize a lot more people have 240v service in their garages (I don’t), but it would still work for the 120v crowd.

How much can you sell the EVSE that come’s with the Leaf for?

All of them should be portable and dirt cheap because it’s just a glorified extension cord. How hard can that be to understand.

230 V EVSE is what you get with every EV (except Zoe) in Europe. :p

Every weekend, I use my EVSE to charge my Leaf at the public school while my son takes a tennis lesson. 😉

Seems to me that the 1998-2000 EVs came with a proprietary EVSE, be it AVCON conductive, small paddle or large paddle inductive, at no extra cost. My 2000 Ranger came with the AVCON, but it was initially a lease. I was able to buy the truck out around 2005, and no one even mentioned the EVSE, which I am still using to date. I put a 14-50 plug on it so it is fairly portable. I believe the Toyota RAV4 EVs that were sold back then for $42K (before a $9K California VIP Incentive) also came with the small paddle EVSE at no extra cost. That said, I see that Lowes and Home Depot are now selling EVSEs from $800 to $5000 (commercial dual charging stations), giving consumers a wide range of choices. I would say solution 2 makes sense for the dealers and consumers, letting the proverbial market place sort things out. I just got back from the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas tonight, and there were plenty of vendors there showing off new EVSEs. Ford made a big splash with the Fusion and C-MAX EVs along with the third party EVSE manufacturers. The Bosch inductive charging system… Read more »

Yikes, I didn’t mean to sound harsh about “bottom feeders.” My hat is off for those who can make that work, as it is probably the smartest method of all.

I chose solution 3. Buy plug-ins such that you don’t have to charge during the day. Most people do not drive more than 40 miles per day but the portable EVSE, like Tesla’s, should be capable of 120 or 240. Most people are not going to want EVs if they are going have to worry about where they will be able to charge during they day. That said, the Volt’s after market type pricing for a second portable EVSE is rediculous. Tesla’s is high too but you get a lot more for the $. You should be able choose a second portable EVSE option with the car purchase for a reasonable price, like $200 for the Volt’s and $300 for Tesla’s. Neither would lose money at these prices and it makes the purchase more desirable.

Gotta say it seems crazy how many Tesla owners opt for dual 10k chargers, at ~$2,700. I know it doesn’t equate to a beefed EVSE, but to go from ~30 miles per hour, to ~60, seems like overkill for overnight, and under-kill as a sequential pit-stop.

Yes, 80 amp / 20kW onboard charger is overkill for overnight, but there’s no reason you couldn’t have a quite common 30 amp / 7.5kW or 40 amp / 10kW charge station at home.

Then, when out on the road when the fastest speed is best, obviously most people prefer faster. As of now, there are a bunch of 70 amp Tesla Roadster charge stations on the west US coast (needs $650 adaptor for Model S/X), and Tesla is giving away it’s 80 amp stations to hotels for out on the road and away from Supercharger and CHAdeMO stations (needs $1000 adaptor for Model S/X).

I use my 120V EVSE every night to top up my Focus Electric. It’s not as useless as the article implies.

I like Option #2. I heard that Ford also charges about $600 for the stock EVSE. Why not just include a basic 120V/240V EVSE?

But I really like Option 1 the best. This provides an opportunity to get a free one. Negotiate the price of the car, then fire the last salvo by saying “throw in the 120V/240V EVSE and we have a deal”. My guess is that the dealer would at least agree to sell one at cost just to close the deal.

Anyone know the fast way to charge a Smart Car”. It only comes with a 3.3 charger inside the car. I “assume” the best I can do is have a 240 circuit with 30amps. I heard something about a “dual” circuit being faster…..?