By on June 3, 2010

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.

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9 Comments on “Ford And Taxpayers Giving Away 4,600 EV Home Chargers, Nissan Not So Much...”

  • avatar

    Reminds me of something John Stossel did recently. He bought a golf cart and had the government reimburse him for the cost. Because it’s electric.

    He did it to prove yet again that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and our wasted tax dollars. I think he said the golf cart was 3 or 4k.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      While I wouldn’t want the situation extended forever, I have no problem with tax credits being used to get the nascent EV industry off the ground. Free markets are generally a good thing, but some intelligent intervention every now and then doesn’t hurt either.

  • avatar

    The Leaf is looking less and less attractive. $28K base price, $2K for the charger to be installed. So now to $30K. Real world range of 65 to 70 miles, with a “bingo” pushing your luck range of 100 miles.

    Meanwhile, in Detroit, the projected price of the Volt is down to $35K, no special charger required.

  • avatar

    I don’t think you necessarily need an home charger. You could just plug the car with a standard 120V plug. It will be only longer to charge, a full night instead of a couple hours, which is not necessarily an issue.

  • avatar

    Aerovironment also developed the Impact EV, the concept that initialized the GM EV-1.

  • avatar

    I’m one of the people who has made a deposit on the Leaf, and part of the signup process involves filling out a questionnaire about where the Leaf will be parked, where your electrical panel is relative to your garage, and so on — and this questionnaire was kicked off after I was offered a chance to get a free charger + installation from eTec.

    Here’s an article that mentions it:

    Here’s the link I followed to sign up:

    So note that Nissan (and the taxpayers, natch), in this fashion, is indeed offering free chargers for folks. According to the email I was sent on 4/28, they’re going to let folks know by June 30th whether they qualify or not.

  • avatar

    Detroit? No trip in Detroit metro area is short. Surprised Boston didn’t make the cut.

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