2011 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
However, the area in front of the chargers was occupied, by two non-electric-non-Leaf cars. They were Fourth of July specials looking for buyers.
A salesman waved me to a makeshift parking spot by the entrance, not a good spot but close enough for the charging cable to reach my Leaf's nose receptacle. I plugged in. Within five minutes, a second salesman came out of the showroom and said I couldn't just plug in and recharge, I needed to have a reservation.
Reservation? You're kidding, right? I told him that when I bought my Leaf and did my research, I was assured that any Leaf owner could recharge at any Nissan dealership during regular hours of operation. The second salesman's lip curled. He was stumped. He'd check with the manager and get back to me.
My wife called and said she'd be arriving soon to pick me up and take me to the July 4th party. I got my bathing suit from the trunk, locked the car, and moved a dozen yards to the entrance to wait for her. Moments before she arrived, I was waved back to the dealership.
Surf City's Ken Heinsohn was standing next to my Leaf. "You can't park here," said Mr. Heinsohn. I realized the spot where I'd parked my Leaf wasn't the best, but they had two of their cars blocking the charging stations.
2011 Nissan LEAF iPhone AppEnlarge Photo
I did. Little Greenfoot and I drove off. I was a bit raw to say the least.
After leaving Surf City Nissan, I tapped the EV Charger Finder iPhone app, which pointed me to the Waterfront Hilton in Huntington Beach. When I arrived, the parking attendants didn't have a clue as to the whereabouts of a charger. Finally, the chief attendant told me the charger had been taken out years ago.
Happily, Nissan's Carwings worked superbly and directed me to another Nissan dealership. The big question was, did I have enough juice to get there? Can you say "range anxiety"?
I arrived at Connell Nissan in Costa Mesa with 1 mile to spare in Eco mode. Several salesman happened to be standing near their Level 2 charging stations out front. The spots were empty. No Leafs were recharging. I asked if I could charge up. Absolutely. No problem: Charge away.
I tracked down Ted Eid, Connell's General Sales Manager, and told him about my recent experience at Surf City Nissan. He smiled and gave me his card. "Have a great 4th of July," he said. And I did. My sister-in-law makes great ribs.
Let's be clear about one thing: I love my Nissan Leaf. And I think Nissan should be applauded for being a visionary company.
It's just selfish and short-sighted dealer employees, like the gentleman who invited me to leave his lot, that I have a problem with.