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Nissan, GE, Working To Solve Leaf, WattStation Charging Woes

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

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Plugging an electric car into a charging station might seem like a simple process, but sometimes even the simplest of processes can go wrong. 

Over the weekend, we heard reports of several cases of Nissan Leaf owners whose Leafs had sustained damage after charging at GE WattStation Level 2 charging stations. 

It is believed that a voltage spike occurred during connection to the charging station.

Yesterday, we reached out to Nissan and GE for official comment on the story. Today, we have heard from both firms. 

“We are aware of several isolated instances of Nissan Leafs sustaining damage due to voltage current spikes from the power grid,” a Nissan spokeswoman told us. 

“These isolated instances, while resulting in component damage to the on-board charger, did not result in injuries or fires,” she continued. “Some of these reported incidents occurred while Leafs were charging at GE WattStations.”

However, Nissan assures customers, it is working on the issue. 

GE WattStation Electric Car Charging Station

GE WattStation Electric Car Charging Station

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“Nissan and GE are working to investigate every issue and determine root cause of the charging issues. While this issue represents a handful of incidents out of millions of charging events involving the Nissan Leaf, we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of the issue.”

Similarly, GE is keen to assure customers it is working hard to resolve the problem. 

“Since its launch in 2011, GE’s WattStation Wall Mount has performed as designed, thousands of units have been shipped, and it has received positive reviews,” a spokesman for the company told us. 

At the moment, we were told, GE believes its units were not at fault. 

“Regarding the charging issue raised by 11 Nissan Leaf owners who had GE WattStations, GE’s current analysis does not indicate that the WattStation is the cause of the reported failures. GE has been actively working with Nissan to help determine the source of the issue,” we were told. 

“GE’s WattStation is designed and tested to the SAE 1772 and appropriate UL standards and these test have been validated by an independent third party,” GE assured us. “There have been no design changes to WattStation since its 2011 launch.”

Concerned Leaf owners may feel worried about charging their Leafs using GE WattStations, but both firms currently believe there is no cause for concern.

“Nissan has confirmed with us that charging at a GE WattStation will not void a Nissan Leaf warranty,” GE’s spokesman said. “Leaf owners should continue to use their WattStations. If there are any issues, the Nissan Leaf and the GE WattStation are both covered under their respective warranties.”

With investigations still underway to find the root cause, there is very little additional data to share. 

However, we will of course update you on the eventual resolution of the issue as soon as it is finalized. 

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Comments (5)
  1. I wonder what type of data logging is going on that allows them any insight in to what happened. It is a little bit of a needle in a haystack problem.
     
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  2. I am also curious on how J1772 universal standard would do to on board chargers. Those on board chargers have to be robust b/c it has to work with all J1772 EVSE/charging stations out there...
     
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  3. Voltage spikes are sited as being the cause of the issue.

    One would hope an EVSE would have protection against utility voltage spikes and interrupt charging to prevent damage to a vehicle if the utility voltage varied too much.

    Of course all bets are off for lightening, but utility voltage problems should be both detectable and mitigated.
     
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  4. Great point John. Being able to save reports that measure EVSE outputs is important to correctly diagnose interoperability problems. Having the right tools so companies can prevent charging problems is equally of value.

    Gridtest Systems testers are capable of measuring, reporting on and preventing these issues.

    http://www.gridtest.com/
     
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  5. It's been reported that GE has only documented 11 LEAF/WattStation incompatibility issues. I happen to be one of the 11. So after my LEAF is repaired once under warranty, and I plug it in again to my WattStation, and the LEAF's on board charging component gets fried again, the question is will it in fact then still be covered under warranty by Nissan. My local dealership says probably not while NISSAN USA Customer Services advises that yes it will....I for one would prefer to see that in writing before I re-plug my LEAF into a WattStation and take the chance.

    Gary
     
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