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Nissan aims to triple number of quick-charging electric car stations in US

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Rick Bowmer/AP/File

(Read caption) A Nissan Leaf charges at a electric vehicle charging station in Portland, Ore. Quick-charging stations can recharge a depleted Leaf battery pack to 80 percent of capacity in just half an hour, Voelcker writes, adding more than 50 miles of range under most circumstances.

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Nissan announced today that it would provide 40 quick-charging stations to NRG, which will use them to expand its eVgo electric-car charging network into the Washington, D.C., region.

Working with its dealers, local authorities, and charging-station partners. Nissan hopes to triple the number of quick-charging stations available in the U.S.

There are now about 160 quick-charge stations, mostly on the West Coast and in Texas; Nissan hopes to add another 500 new stations over the next 18 months.

The company envisions "a quick-charging network that links communities and neighborhoods where people live, work, shop and socialize,” according to Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy, Brendan Jones. 

“Having a robust charging infrastructure helps build range confidence," Jones said, "which boosts interest in and use of electric vehicles."

The quick-charging stations can recharge a depleted Leaf battery pack to 80 percent of capacity in just half an hour, adding more than 50 miles of range under most circumstances.

Nissan is targeting three areas for the fast-charging stations: its own dealerships, workplace campuses where employees can park, and municipalities located between pairs of areas with large numbers of electric-car drivers.

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The company notes that while most electric-car charging today takes place at home, workplace charging is expanding quickly. More than 1,500 companies offer it today, Jones said.

Nissan and NRG made the announcement at a press conference held at today's Washington, D.C., Auto Show.

The eVgo expansion is part of a renewed push by Nissan and eVgo to expand the availability of quick-charging stations that use the CHAdeMO standard.

That quick-charging standard can be used with a majority of the 20,000 or so Nissan Leafs sold in the U.S. (and also many of the 700 or so Mitsubishi i-MiEVs as well).

But a different standard, dubbed CCS (and also known as "SAE Combo"), will be used by U.S. and German makers in years to come. So far, no cars on sale use that standard, and no public CCS charging stations have been installed.

The eVgo Freedom Stations, as they're known, will have a Nissan quick-charge station and also a Level 2 240-Volt charging outlet, which can be used by any modern electric car.

Quick-charging stations are now available in eVgo networks in Houston and in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. The company says it plans to expand to the San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Joaquin Valley areas. 

That expansion is largely funded by NRG as part of the settlement of a longstanding lawsuit over excess utility fees charged to California ratepayers a decade ago.

Consumer advocates criticized the settlement as offering little to the utility customers who paid the overcharges and having been negotiated entirely behind closed doors. That position pitted them against electric-car advocates.

Nevertheless, the California Public Utilities Commission approved that settlement essentially as first proposed, meaning NRG could invest in infrastructure that will make it money rather than reimburse the ratepayers.

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