GE WattStation Vindicated, Leaf Blamed In Charging Station Woes

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

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It isn’t a good time to be Nissan right now. 

For a start, its first all-electric car, the 2012 Leaf, is suffering from poor sales. Then there’s the matter of Leafs in hot states like Arizona  exhibiting premature battery capacity loss to attend to. 

Then, over the weekend, more bad news came Nissan’s way: that the Leaf’s onboard charger was to blame for damage some Leafs sustained while plugged into GE’s WattStation. 

First reported two weeks ago, several Leaf owners had reported that their all-electric Leafs had sustained damage while charging at at number of level 2 GE WattStation charging stations. 

At the time, we reached out to Nissan and GE for official confirmation on the issue, and were told that both companies were working together to resolve the issue. 

On Friday evening, we received a follow-up statement from GE, informing us that it had been vindicated of any blame.

GE WattStation Electric Car Charging Station

GE WattStation Electric Car Charging Station

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“Nissan and GE have completed their investigation into the instances of Nissan Leafs experiencing on-board charging (OBC) issues when using certain EV chargers (sic.) Nissan has traced the root cause of the issue to the Leaf’s OBC software that can allow damage to occur to its OBC components while using certain chargers and in certain instances, such as when a brief under voltage or blackout condition occurs,” a GE spokesman told us. 

Nissan is already examining ways of resolving the issue. 

“Nissan is working to address this issue as quickly as possible,” GE’s spokesman continued. “In the meantime [Nissan] is advising customers to avoid charging during times when brownouts or momentary power dips may be likely, such as during electrical storms or high power usage on the grid.”

There’s no news from Nissan when modifications to resolve the issue will be made available, but with some Leaf owners already concerned about the risks of premature battery capacity loss, this latest news does the Japanese automaker no favors. 

Let’s just hope that bad news really does come in threes: and that Nissan gets some much-needed good luck.


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Comments (7)
  1. So what exactly is it that's doing damage power surges, or fluctuations in the flow of electricity? I have seen quite a lot of surge damage living in one of the lightening capitals of the world. So knowing that I'll be buying an electric car some time in the near future I had a surge protector installed on my meter to protect anything in my house.

  2. If the problem lies with the Leaf, what I still don't get is why it hasn't occurred with other brands of EVSEs: AeroVironment, Blink, Schneider, Coloumb, Clipper Creek, Leviton, Eaton, SPX, etc., etc. Just coincidence?

    What do those manufacturers say about this defect in the Leaf? Why is it that a brownout or power surge doesn't produce the same problem with their EVSEs? Or... does it? And nobody has bothered to mention it before it happened with GE's Wattstation?

    Seems to me it is a question that still needs an answer.

  3. so we have opted to use an "OS style" software where we create products, supporting systems, etc. and expect Nissan to make sure their software works with "their" hardware?

    is this not a bit backwards? what happened to 3rd parties providing software fixes? Nissan was here first, not GE. other EVSE's have no issues...

    does any of this make any real sense?

  4. now, this is GE we are talking about, one of the biggest companies in the world. i wonder what the process who have been if it were Blink that had the issue or some other small start up??

  5. Well, EVSE is really a "fancy" extension cord...

    EVSE is just there to provide a Pilot signal and human protectino on the J1772 plug. All charging and power conditioning are done on the car itself. You can easily build an EVSE yourself for about $500 in parts (retail and low quantity order pricing) and some hours of assembly.

    GE stations is probably meeting all the SAE J1772 standard. it works just fine with Volt, Focus EV, MIEV. Why Leaf has a problem is beyond me.

    If I have to design it, the input of the charger is always going to be an "universal" AC-DC converter. So, regardless what the Volt is, it should work. Of course, eventually the voltage will drop low enough that it can't generate 360V. But it shouldn't fail.

  6. GE does not fully comply with SAE J1772 revised on Feb of 2013. GE boxes tend not to work at all with the most mature EV of all, the Think with a 20 year history. To get the GE to work with a Think, you need to turn off the circuit breaker before you plug into the car.

    I have personally witnessed GE boxes refusing to charge Leafs, Volts and Teslas although those problems are more rare.

    Hubbell had problems with their Pep Station charging boxes, but they updated to J1772 Feb 2013 and the issues are gone.

    If GE would bother to check the SAE updates, they would have a better product.

  7. Most of the time, the issue with charging are mostly isolated to either extra sensitive on ground fault or input power. Neither should impact the charger of the car.

    Like I said, it is a fancy extension cord. If you open one up you will feel really ripped off by the price they are charging you.

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