Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Buyer's Market

Recently new ChAdeMO quick charge stations were turned on in Great Britain to the delight of Nikki a resident of the Island and a EV promoter but more importantly a fellow LEAF Owner.  Naturally tweeting about new things, cool things, etc. is the norm along the pix of course!

I mentioned my prodigious use of the Tumwater DCFC just down the street from me and how I normally charge 10-15 minutes to take advantage of the faster charging rate that happens on the bottom 2/3rds of the pack so I tweeted Nikki and I think she got the wrong impression that maybe I thought 30 minutes for an 80% charge or just over an hour for a full charge was too long.

So she responded by asking if I had preferred a LEAF with shorter range for a presumably a lower price to which I responded "Yes!!, but not for me."  You see; Tesla did it right.  Offer a model with multiple range options along with multiple price points. Sure we want a longer range EV, but at the same time not all of us want to or can afford to pay for that extra capacity. But having the lower price points is what gets people thinking about the car and its not unusual to see the buyer end up paying more than they had planned once they get to the dealership.

Nissan just announced 1579 new LEAFs hit the streets of the US in October making it the best month in over a year and continuing the upward sales trend fueled by attractive lease rates.  This is pretty good evidence that the LEAF is  very attractive for many but not quite at the right price point. But Nissan is listening.  Rumors are flying that Nissan will offer a lower price point for the LEAF by modifying the basic features and removing some of the bling.  No apparent range drop but other things like switching out the expensive LED headlights for HIDs (which use more power so ya, a bit of a hit on range), possibly taking out the NAV, etc.

I also think Nissan is on the right track (no doubt pushed by GM) to offer the dirt cheap leasing to allow more exposure to driving electric. Its my opinion that the average lessee will be willing to pay a lot more for their 2nd EV rather than move back to gasoline.  Range will always be an issue but I think many drivers overestimate their needs and actually using an EV with a limited range may show them that the range is not really that limited especially when one is leaving home every morning with a full tank without having to leave 10 minutes early for a stop at the gas station to do it.

But one thing Nissan has not announced that I think is critical is offering a larger pack for the LEAF. Test drive reports for the Toyota RAV 4 EV by Tony Williams (a soon to be former LEAF owner) who easily did 130 miles on a charge is receiving a lot of attention but he lives in CA where you can get one...the ONLY place you can get one!

But betting that Nissan strips down the LEAF removing say $3-4,000 of features, then adding 8 Kwh to the pack for a few thousand more than the SL currently sells for and they may have a winner.  This should bring it up to about a 125 mile range means that people can now go thru their 20-30% range degradation and still be ok.

But the biggest advantage of the larger pack is more effective use of quick charging . now instead of gaining 30 miles in 11 minutes, I can gain up to 65 miles in 25 minutes!

After all; 11 minutes was frequently not enough time for me to get done what I needed to do!

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