Nissan takes on Tesla Superchargers with dealership quick-charge network

Nissan will borrow some of Tesla's Supercharger network strategy by turning US dealerships into recharging points for the Nissan Leaf, the car company has revealed, promising an 80-percent "refuel" in half an hour. The scheme will see more than 124 quick-charge systems offered at Nissan dealerships across the US, and is expected to be fully operational by April 1, 2014.

Nissan trialled the dealership charging station approach this year, equipping 24 locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and Seattle with CHAdeMO-compliant fast-charge kit. The company says it saw an average of 4.5 recharge sessions per day at each location, with demand rising as more Leaf owners realized the facility was available.

The new equipment installation will begin on the east coast, Nissan says, starting from this summer. The plan is to eventually have chargers at the "21 key markets" the company has identified.

Drivers of electric cars, like the Leaf, can suffer what is colloquially known as "range anxiety": the fear that the car will run out of power before it reaches its destination (or at least the next place with an electricity connection). Different approaches have been taken to address that, whether by increasing the number of locations where charging is available, or encouraging drivers to use their EVs in more frugal ways.

For instance, Ford has tried gamification with the Fusion Energi, relying on owner-competitiveness by rewarding economical driving with higher points. The Chevrolet Spark EV, meanwhile, takes a more realistic approach to the miles-remaining gage, able to give a "worst case scenario" with a confidence rating to indicate how likely it is that the electrically-powered city car will reach its claimed range.

Of course, there's no replacement for having more places to recharge, hence Tesla's investment in its Supercharger network of fast-refueling points. They're set to triple in number, Telsa founder Elon Musk has said, as well as get 50-percent faster.

What Tesla lacks – and Nissan already has – is a comprehensive dealer network, with sites usually close to major highways and where high-power recharge stations can be readily installed.