More than three years ago, Nissan (NASDAQ: NSANY) chose AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) as the preferred home charging station of choice for its all-electric Leaf.
On Thursday, the integration between purchasing a car and using an AeroVironment charger has been significantly streamlined. AeroVironment has a new dealer program that allows for residential charging packages for car buyers purchasing a Leaf. The new program will allow customers to finance the charger in combination with the vehicle.
Besides combined financing, the most significant gain is the ease of the process, according to Tom Carney, director of automotive sales and EV solutions. “It was really clunky,” Carney said of the previous process. “It could take months for an installation.”
Nissan wanted an easy, quick process for the dealers and the customers. Now, owners can purchase a Level 2, 240-volt charger for the home and have it installed in four days or less, with an average wait of two days.
“Consumers were frustrated with fitting all of the pieces together,” Carney said. Instead of walking out the door and going to buy a charger at a big-box store, customers can bundle it with the car and even add on a warranty that matches the warranty on the car.
AeroVironment has a network of licensed installers across all 50 states and has been piloting the program in Los Angeles. In the past, the dealers did not really handle the charging part of the purchase, so besides fielding complaints, they didn’t know much about how it worked. As part of the program, AeroVironment will also train Nissan dealers.
To get customers thinking about the charger as part of a package deal with the car, the new Leafs will come with a window sticker with details about the charger. Carney said that savvy early adopters were more likely to put up with bumps in the road when it came to getting their electric vehicles and chargers, but if the cars gain momentum in the mass market, the average car buyer will be less forgiving.
“Dealers don’t like anything that could inhibit the sale of the electric vehicle,” Carney said.
Most of the news around EV chargers is around public charging and DC fast charging, even though studies show the majority of charging happens at home. As more electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles come on the market, there will be a second rush by charging companies to ink agreements with carmakers. AeroVironment’s current dealer program is only with Nissan, but the program’s release at the National Automotive Dealers Association Convention Expo is timed to drum up interest with other automakers. AeroVironment also works with BMW and Mitsubishi as a preferred home charging supplier.