When the Nissan Leaf launched in 2010, it came with an optional Chademo direct current (DC) quick charging port that could enable its 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack to recharge to 80 percent in under 30 minutes at compatible quick charge stations.
So far, there are only a handful of DC quick charging stations in the whole of the U.S., but Nissan has plans to change that, with a goal of selling up to 2,000 quick charging stations to the U.S. over the next two years.
Unveiled last year, Nissan’s range of DC charging stations are more than two-thirds cheaper and require one half of the physical space of previous generation DC chargers.
They even come with more options, allowing charging stations to be deployed everywhere from parking garages to street-side parking spaces in states that get extremely cold winter weather.
At $9,900, Nissan’s basic quick charge station is designed for indoor use, but comes with over 6 feet of cable -- meaning it can serve not one but multiple parking spaces when sited correctly. More expensive options add touch-screen capabilities and heating to ensure that the charger operates correctly, regardless of the weather.
Nissan Direct Current Rapid Charging Station
In Europe, Nissan has agreed to give away 400 of its quick DC charging stations to companies willing to provide free 24-hour access and free charging to Leaf owners for the next year, but in North America, Nissan plans to sell its DC quick charging stations to charging station companies and individual businesses.
“Our two year goal is to sell 1,500 to 2,000 chargers,” Nissan North America spokesman Brendan Jones told us earlier this week. “We will accomplish this goal via our Retail and Wholesale process.”
Even though Nissan North America is selling the DC quick chargers instead of giving them away, charging might still be free initially, says Jones.
“Several partners plan to offer free charging at first and then have a subscription based service in the future,” Jones reassured us. "eTec, which has the most DC quick charging installations, is offering free charging for the first year.”
If everything goes according to plan, Nissan expects more than 800 DC quick charging stations will be installed in the U.S. in the next two months, with over 1,000 quick charging stations online by the end of 2012.
At the moment, expect most of those charging stations to be located in areas with an already high number of electric cars on the road, with most located in high population areas.
But we’d also expect popular routes, like the I-5 in California between Los Angeles and San Francisco, to soon see quick charging stations installed.