Nissan to Put Electric Car Charging Stations Across Tennessee

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Nissan to Put Electric Car Charging Stations Across Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee is just a little more than a year away from seeing Nissan's first electric vehicles, so the company is in the process of setting up a network of charging stations swiftly enough to get ready, The Tennessean reported.

Unlike the popular hybrids on the market today, Nissan's new Leaf, a five-passenger compact hatchback, won't have an internal-combustion engine onboard to back up the electric power, so when the battery runs down, the car stops, the report stated.

Getting the charging infrastructure in place may be a herculean task, Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan North America Inc., said in the report, but the automaker vows to be ready when the first cars come to market in December 2010.

Phoenix-based ECOtality Inc. partnered with Nissan to set up the charging systems in consumers' homes, as well as to create public networks in Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville and on the interstate highways between those cities, and charging stations will also be set up in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington, all of which are included in the first phase of Nissan's rollout of the Leaf, the report stated.

In fact, the first 1,000 buyers in Tennessee will get free home chargers installed, which could run up to $1,500 each for the equipment and installation combined. In all, Tennessee is slated to get 2,190 of the overnight-type chargers in the initial rollout, along with 50 fast chargers that can juice up a car in 20 minutes, The Tennessean reported.

While some local building and electrical codes could threaten to delay or short-circuit installation of the home chargers, Nissan's Perry said certain cities might choose to put units in municipal parking garages or install them at some on-street parking spaces, which could complement private installations done by shopping malls or big individual retailers.

Getting retailers such as Walmart Stores Inc. involved will require them paying for the installation of a charging station, which runs approximately $35,000 per hookup -- roughly $35,000 per hookup. However, Seattle-based Costco Wholesale Corp., which operates two members-only warehouses in the Nashville area, might be interested in installing the chargers, said Joel Benoliel, the company's senior vice president for legal and administration, in the report.

"We installed the chargers at some of our stores in California for the General Motors electric car, and that worked out pretty well," he said of the smaller-scale test. "There weren't many of those cars around, though."

Additionally, BP PLC is a partner with Nissan and ECOtality in the electric-vehicle project, but only for the purposes of evaluating the technology to decide whether further participation might be feasible, spokesman Scott Dean said from the company's Chicago offices, in the report.

"We're not signed on to install any yet," Dean said. "There are many uncertainties about the electric-transport industry."