Worried about the high MSRPs on most of the electric vehicles scheduled for launch over the next year? Don’t forget to include the cost of buying and installing a home charging station. Nissan reckons the charger for its Leaf will cost about $2,200, including a home electrical inspection [er, that's a medical marijuana grow...] and installation. Oh, and it won’t be Nissan coming into your home: Aerovironment, a firm otherwise best known for its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, has the contract to supply and install the Leaf’s charger. Coulomb Technologies supplies the home charger for Ford’s first EV, the Transit Connect EV, and according to Automotive News [sub], they’re partnering with Ford to give chargers away to the first 2,000 buyers of the electric-drive delivery van. But, as usual with good news in the EV sector, the charger giveaway is actually being funded by tax dollars…
The chargers are being given away as part of Coulomb’s ChargePoint program, which seeks to improve EV infrastructure in nine US regions. That means the free chargers are only available to customers in or around
Austin, Texas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Fla., Sacramento, Calif., the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area, Redmond, Wash., and Washington DC
Which is kind of ironic considering the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturer’s (which Ford is a member of) recently lambasted a regionally-based infrastructure development bill, arguing that it
risks resulting in federal resources becoming overly concentrated in a small number of communities, which could establish electric cars as boutique vehicles… Electric cars and their infrastructure should be available to everyone nationwide, not just people in select communities.
Ah well. In any case, $15m of the ChargePoint program’s $37m budget is being paid for by a stimulus bill grant (via the Department of Energy’s Transportation Electrification Initiative), and Coulomb hopes to fund the rest of the program with money from local governments. In return for the free Ford/Coulomb publicity, free chargers for early adopters, and a free sense of green self-satisfaction, the ChargePoint program will conduct a two-year study of EV and charging network use for the government.
And though the fairness and efficacy of government subsidies for home-chargers is debatable, it’s not likely to let up anytime soon. There is currently a federal tax credit worth half the value of a home charger installation (up to $2,000) which is set to expire in December of this year. That will help Nissan and GM, which do not have access to a government-funded charger-giveaway program like Ford’s (although local governments like Los Angeles are also rolling out home-charger subsidies). Look for that credit to be renewed before the end of the year, as governments the world over have clearly signed on to the idea that EVs are worth being subsidized from every possible angle. And considering that costs for installation could, in some cases, reach all the way to $10,000, home chargers are going to need all the help they can get.