EV Quick Charge Reliability in Tennessee

Taking an extended trip in an EV such as the LEAF depends on rapid charge stations, which are capable of topping off the LEAF’s battery in 20 minutes or less. Unlike gas stations rapid charging stations are few and far between, and more importantly there is often just a single device to charge the car with; a device failure can leave one without the means to continue the journey. By comparison gas stations are plentiful with most cities having more than one location and each gas station has multiple pumps providing redundancy against equipment failure or long lines.

So how is the reliability of the rapid charge network? Is it wise to plan a trip and ‘depend upon’ a rapid charging station being available? To find out I examined the ratings and reasons for failure which can be found on plugshare.com and the results were sobering. The network cannot be depended upon for an extended trip, there simply is not enough redundancy built into the network. The only exception is south of Nashville where there are over a dozen units within easy reach.

Here is a ranking of Fast Charge Units in Tennessee.

Rating Business City
10.0 Cracker Barrel Cleveland
10.0 Cracker Barrel Manchester
10.0 Cracker Barrel Murfreesboro
10.0 Nissan LEAF Factory Smyrna
10.0 Nissan North America Franklin
10.0 Nissan of Rivergate Madison
9.0 MAPCO Mart Franklin
9.0 MAPCO Mart Hendersonville
9.0 Nissan of Cool Springs Franklin
8.9 Cracker Barrel Crossville
8.8 Cracker Barrel Athens
8.6 Nissan of Mufreesboro Murfreesboro
8.3 Harold Matthews Clarksville
8.2 Cracker Barrel Kimball
8.0 MAPCO Mart Antioch
7.8 Downtown Nashville Nissan Nashville
7.6 Cracker Barrel Harriman
7.3 Sears Chattanooga
6.8 Cracker Barrel East Ridge
6.8 Mountain View Nissan Chattanooga
6.4 Cracker Barrel Nashville
6.0 Cracker Barrel Cookeville
6.0 Murphy Express Chattanooga
5.1 Cracker Barrel Faragut
4.5 Cracker Barrel Lebanon
3.3 Newton Nissan Gallatin
Juke ICE'd Quick Charge

Juke ICE’d Quick Charge

The Plugshare rating is calculated by the Plugshare website based upon the success of charging events reported by their users. Other factors that go into the rating are how many and how recent the reports are.

The two main reasons people report problems are Equipment Failure (51) and ‘Icing’ (14), where a gas car blocks the parking space. Blink Units are more prone to failure, however many of these units have been in place for over 2 years and there have been more charging events on their network.

Brand Device Failure ICE’d Business Closed
Blink 42 7 0
Eaton 2 0 0
Nissan 7 7 1
Grand Total 51 14 1

Nissan units are more reliable as they are relatively new, however placement for many of these units at dealerships has resulted in units being blocked by a gas car, sometimes overnight.

Brand Average of Rating
Nissan 8.20
Blink 7.77
Eaton 6.00
Average 7.86

If you are interested in a copy of the spreadsheet with the data I collated in it, you can download it HERE.

Tesla are building a nationwide Supercharger network for their vehicle the Model S. Several owners have made coast to coast trips in the Tesla’s without issue, while in Tennessee a trip from Nashville to Knoxville is a risky proposition.

How come Tesla have a more reliable network?

Redundancy is the simple answer. They build at least 4 stations per location and have planned the locations strategically to allow for long trips. By contrast the Chademo (LEAF compatible) rapid charge network hasn’t been centrally planned and the investment has been smaller. There are more Chademo locations nationwide than Tesla, but almost all have only one unit providing no redundancy. Tesla have a plan and are executing it.

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Green Hills YMCA gets EV Fast Charge Unit

Green Hills YMCA Rapid Charge Unit

Green Hills YMCA Rapid Charge Unit Photo provided by Steve Hinkle

The Green Hills area has very sparse EV charging coverage compared to other areas of Nashville. Finally they are on the EV Charging map and with a powerful Rapid Charge unit from Nissan at the YMCA. The unit can recharge a LEAF in 20-30 minutes from empty. A typical boost from one of these units takes 15 minutes, (unlike gasoline drivers most EV drivers don’t wait until they are close to empty before refueling).

Nissan recently announced Nashville will become an early adopter area for their ‘No Charge to Charge’ Program , where they will provide two years of free rapid charging with the purchase of a new Nissan LEAF. Currently there is no fee for all comers at the YMCA, but we can anticipate that to change when the ‘No Charge to Charge’ program is initiated.

Tennessee now has 28 DC Fast Charge units, with the majority focused around the Nashville Metropolitan area.

View from Green Hillls YMCA towards Whole Foods.

View from Green Hills YMCA towards Whole Foods.

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Nashville Mapco/BP gets a Nissan Fast Charge Unit


Nissan DC Fast Charge unit at a gas station. Yay!!

Mapco DCFC

Mapco DCFC

Nissan have been generous deploying DC Fast Charge units to dealers all over the country, now a Nissan DC Fast Charge unit just went into a Mapco gas station location at 8th and Wedgwood in Nashville.

This is on the route to/from my workplace so I will have to stop by and see if the unit is energized and if there is a fee associated with it or not. I’ll report back here.

Update 2014-05-05: I called by and the unit is working well and is free to use! It is limited to an 80% charge like some other Nissan rapid chargers, this will discourage people parking for extended periods while they charge (the last 20% charge can take as long as the first 80%).

I spoke with the cashier and she indicated the unit has been operational since March. I asked if the unit would remain free and she referred me to the instructions on the unit for payment. I repeated it didn’t require payment to which she was surprised.

While I was charging I was asked by a motorist if the car was charging, how much does it cost, how long does it take to charge? These units at gas stations certainly do peak the interest of gasoline car drivers!

This location isn’t quite central downtown, but is close enough to be of value to many in Nashville or traveling through Nashville.  The gas station is a BP stations with a Mapco Mart attached, there are several gas stations with such a partnership in the Nashville area. This year is the last for the sounds at the Greer Stadium, an awesome location for a quick charge!

Hooked up, the cable is just long enough, park to the right of the parking space

Hooked up, the cable is just long enough, park to the right of the parking space

If you drop by for a ‘quickie’ please be sure to visit the convenience store (don’t just sit in your car checking emails). This is to make them feel the DC Fast Charge unit is of value to them, so other Mapco’s in Nashville may get fast charging capability!! Gas stations are natural place to put quick charge units, their locations have great signage and are on well traveled routes.

In Hendersonville TN there is a new Speedway gas station going in on Main Street. I wrote to Speedway and asked them if they’d consider a Fast Charge unit while the site was still under construction and costs are at a minimum. I did get a response! Thanks Speedway, but it looked a lot like a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” response.

March 17, 2014

Dear JP White,

This is an acknowledgement of your email regarding Rapid Charge unit for electric vehicles.

I would like you to know that I have forwarded your request to the appropriate department personnel for handling.

Thank you for taking the time to write us. We are always interested in hearing from our customers whatever the reason.

Speedway LLC Customer Service

 One comment for Speedway. Don’t let Mapco show you up!!




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DC Fast charger blocked by an EV parked overnight

Blocked by an EV parked overnight

DC Fast Charge Unit blocked by an EV parked overnight

“Sorry sir, the keys are locked up and we can’t move it.” The sales staff were very helpful and apologetic but they could not move a LEAF parked in the bay reserved for Quick Charging.

So how did that happen?

I called by for a quick charge one evening after shopping nearby. When I saw the LEAF parked in the quick charge space I figured someone was charging, but then noticed the vehicle wasn’t plugged in and with no one in sight. I inquired within and the dealer staff did their best to help. The salesman looked at the vehicle and said, “It’s not ours, we are working on it”. Sure enough a service tag was hanging from the rear view mirror. The keys to vehicles being serviced are locked away in a separate lockup by the service department, salesmen do not have access to customers keys. I suppose that’s a good thing 🙂

Instead I spent 30 minutes drinking coffee and chatting to the staff and customers while my vehicle charged at their Level 2 EVSE. I bumped into someone I used to work with and we exchanged stories about our careers while she was shopping for an Altima.

It’s early days for EV’s and the dealers don’t have their businesses setup to fully support EV’s yet. I’m very glad Nissan chose to install a quick charge unit at Nashville area dealers, I’ve made great use of them, however this experience underlines the fact there is a single point of failure throughout their quick charge network.

Tesla have already thought this through and install multiple superchargers at each location, so if one is out service or blocked by an inconsiderate driver, there’s probably several other superchargers available. Redundancy is key to a quick charge network that is to be relied on. What this experience tells me is that established car manufacturers and dealers have yet to setup a reliable quick charge network. Maybe because they don’t want to. They don’t have gas pumps, they let someone else handle that. But for EV’s to be take off a reliable quick charging network has to be in place for EV’s to become a long term success. Tesla know that and are building their own network, this should assure them of success in the EV marketplace.

The good news is that Nissan dealers do have Level 2 units that can be used in place of a quick charge unit, which is better than nothing. I got home just fine just a little later than I had hoped for, but I did manage to catch up with a colleague from a ‘previous life’.


Posted in Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Level 3 EV Charger, Newton Nissan, Nissan LEAF | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Shelbyville and Lewisburg in Tennessee get DC Fast Charge Units

NashvilleAreaDCFC Installations

Middle Tennessee Quick Charge locations – Showing latest installations at Shelbyville and Lewisburg – Click to Enlarge

Two smaller cities in Tennessee now have a quick charge unit installed. Why Shelbyville and Lewisburg when larger cities such as Brentwood and Hendersonville do not?

An automotive supplier Calsonic Kansei North America INC has facilities in the cities and is the location of these new installations. Calsonic has announced in 2013 that over a three year period they will invest $109 million resulting in the creation of 1,200 new manufacturing jobs across its facilities in Lewisburg, Shelbville, and Smyrna TN. It is presumed the installation of the quick charge units is part of the $109 Million investment. Public access to these units is not available at the Shelbyville installation. A comment on PlugShare for the Shelybyville factory says “Just spoke to receptionist and she said it’s not available for public use.”  One assumes the same policy restriction will apply to the Lewisburg location.

If anyone in Shelbyville or Lewisburg can get photos of the units, I’ll be happy to include them on Plugshare and here on this blog.

Calsonic makes several automotive products such as Climate Control, Engine Cooling, Electronics, Exhaust and Vehicle Interiors. Nissan is customer of Calsonic Kansei, Calsonic recently supported the manufacturer of the Rogue at the Smyrna TN plant. Nissan have a 40% share in the companies ownership.

Tennessee now has 27 locations where DC Quick Charge units compatible with vehciles such as the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi i and the soon to be released Kia Soul EV. Tesla Model S owners can purchase an adapter for $1,000 to work with this style of rapid charging unit. Notice in the map below how most the the units are south and east of Nashville. West and South West of Nashville have no units whatsoever.

TennesseeDCFC Installations

Location of Tennessee Quick Charge Units – Click to Enlarge

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Bledsoe Creek State Park no longer EV Friendly

BledsoeUnwelcomeNote copy

Go Away EV’s

For the last few years I’ve enjoyed walking the trails at Bledsoe Creek State Park, which was once EV Friendly. I had struck up a friendship with the park ranger Lance Crawford and we came to a gentleman’s agreement that if I donated to the Friends of Bledsoe Creek State Park I could charge at 3 spaces he picked out, if they were free of campers.  I reported the friendly nature of Bledsoe in another post.  It was a good agreement, I got to charge my vehicle while I hiked and the no profit group who help to maintain the parks trails got a cash boost. A classic “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

Lance retired last year and the gentleman’s agreement came to an end. I met the new ranger and initially the new ranger was receptive to continuing this agreement, but has since changed his mind. EV’s are no longer welcome at Bledsoe Creek State Park.

I hope Lance has a long and healthy retirement. Lance, we miss you already!!

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Second Unscheduled Maintenance Visit

I notice last weekend when I visited the ATM that the drivers window would not roll down on my LEAF. Other windows worked just fine, the problem was isolated to the drivers window.

I went to Newton Nissan this weekend and they were very gracious to ‘fit me in’ even though I did not have an appointment. The car was fixed within 60 minutes while I waited, the issue was a faulty switch. I’m now glad I purchased a Security+ Maintenance program when I bought the car from them. I avoided $134 in parts cost and 1/3 hr of labor, say $35. The original 36,000 mile warranty is now expired, I have 41,000 miles on my LEAF. I am utilizing the maintenance contract which is good for a total of 100,000 miles, or another 59,000 miles of motoring.

As the car ages one can expect more of these little niggly problems to crop up, the maintenance program should cover most problems going forward. At total cost of $1,100 a 100,000 maintenance program is worth it if you intend to keep your car for 5 or more years. My average car ownership is about 6 years; I have found reasonably priced maintenance contracts to pay for themselves. Nissan Security+ programs provide the added benefit of a free rental car should the car need to stay in the shop longer than a reasonable wait time.

I’m glad I have not had to depend upon the maintenance program more, the LEAF has been very reliable to date. I had anticipated a higher than average number of service visits due to the EV technology in the vehicle. The EV components so far have been flawless and thanks to not having to change oil, the number of trips to the shop are much less than a conventional gasoline vehicle.

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Newton Nissan Seventh Dealer to get a Fast Charger in Tennessee


Newton Nissan DC Fast Charge Unit.
Click to Enlarge

Newton Nissan of Gallatin TN are the seventh Tennessee Nissan Dealer to get a Quick Charge unit. This brings the total number of Fast Charge Units of all brands in Tennessee up to count of 25. This quick charger in Gallatin is well placed for me personally. I occasionally visit Gallatin directly after work and have just enough miles to get me home. Having a quick charger nearby available for days when I’m running late and need to travel faster, or have another stop off to make will be a welcome luxury. The dealership does close Sunday’s, but access to their parking lot and charging equipment is 24/7/365.

Of the Middle Tennessee Dealers, all dealers now have a fast charge unit except for three, namely Action Nissan in Nashville, Newton Nissan in Shelbyville and Victory Nissan in Dickson. Newton Nissan indicate they are on the waiting list for a unit to be installed at their Shelbyville dealership, but don’t have an install date yet. If any LEAF owners in Dickson or close to Action Nissan can check to see they have units or not, please snag a photo and let me know and I’ll update Plugshare to reflect the presence of a quick charge unit.


Location of Quick Charge Units in Tennessee. 25 of them.
Click to Enlarge

Tennessee one of the first States to get Dealer Quick Chargers

I examined the Nissan Dealer quick charge distribution by state and found Tennessee is honored to be amongst some of the first states to get these units. About 16 States have these units installed to date. The number is growing all the time. Nissan have a goal to install 100 Dealer quick charge units in the US in the top 21 LEAF markets.

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Sixth Dealer Quick Charge Unit installed at Downtown Nashville Nissan


Quick Charge Unit Shoe-horned into EV Charging Area.

Fast charge units are going in at Tennessee Nissan Dealers like they are going out of fashion. This unit is strategically placed just two and half miles north of downtown Nashville giving I-65 drivers north of town 2 places to quick charge, and somewhere for downtown visitors to juice up before heading elsewhere. The dealership is open 9am-8pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-6pm Sundays. Plugshare.com indicates the charging units are always accessible, it would be good if someone could confirm availability when the dealership is closed. As is customary with Dealer Quick Charge Stations, the unit can be used free of charge, adding up to 60 miles of range in under 30 minutes.

Nissan Aggressively Installing Units

Comments left on Plugshare.com indicate that Downtown Nissan were anticipating the middle of 2014 before they got this unit. It seems Nissan have accelerated Tennessee installations in the last month, which is very welcome with frigid temperatures gripping the region and sapping range from area LEAF’s.

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Three More Tennessee Dealer Quick Chargers Installed

Clarksville and Murfreesboro Dealer QuciCharge Units identified in Red. Click to Enlarge

Clarksville and Murfreesboro Dealer Quick Charge Units identified in Red.
Click to Enlarge

According to Plugshare.com three more Tennessee dealers have had Quick Charge Units installed recently. This now makes 5 Dealer Quick Charge units are now installed and operational. Of the three new ones One is at Nissan of Murfreesboro just a few miles from the Cracker Barrel in Murfreesboro which also has had a quick charge unit for a few years. Another is at Harold Mathews Nissan in Clarksville TN. These two locations appear on Plugshare, but there are no notes or photos to corroborate the pins on the map. If local LEAF owners would like to visit these dealers and update Plugshare.com with a Photo and a note indicating when the unit was installed that would be great!!

Mountain View Nissan Quick Charge Unit

Mountain View Nissan Quick Charge Unit
Click To Enlarge

Finally Mountain View Nissan Chattanooga has one as well, which is close to 4 other quick charge units at Cracker Barrel (2), Murphy Express and Sears.

The unit in Clarksville is very well placed giving drivers to the north and west access to a quick charge unit. Several years ago I took a business trip to Clarksville and left the LEAF at home. Now I could make that same journey without worries.

Some TN Cities left wanting

Both Nashville and Chattanooga have a good number of these quick charge units now. Two major Tennessee towns with little or no coverage are Memphis and Knoxville. Knoxville does have one unit at Farragut ever since the first Tennessee Quick Charge units were installed by Blink/Ecotality at Cracker Barrel Locations on I-24, I-40 and I-75 shortly after the LEAF was launched.

Long Distance Travel

Many Quick Charge units have been installed in Georgia, making it possible to travel over 300 miles from Clarksville, TN to Union City, Atlanta, GA almost exclusively on Quick Charge units.  Many of the units on the way are free to use. There is a small 65 mile gap in Georgia between Dalton and Kennesaw, which I expect to see filled before too long.

Tesla at a Nissan Dealer?

A Tesla coming to a Nissan Dealer near you soon? Click to Enlarge

A Tesla coming to a Nissan Dealer near you soon?
Tesla to Chademo Adapter
Click to Enlarge

Although the only vehicles sold in the US that natively use the Chademo connector come from Nissan and Mitsubishi, Tesla recently announced they are selling a Tesla-to-Chademo adapter, its expensive at $1,000 but with no Superchargers coming to Tennessee until 2015, expect to see an occasional Tesla at these stations as well as LEAF’s and i-Miev’s. It will be interesting to see if a Nissan dealer would object to a Tesla using one of these units and if this would spark another Tesla vs Dealer battle.  (Update:2014-07-11. Chatanooga now shows as ‘coming soon’ on the supercharger mapNashville is now showing as a 2014 install, previously it was 2015. Tennessee appears to have moved up in the list of Supercharger candidate installs recently).

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