Rapid Chargers – A Waste Of My Time

Posted: May 8, 2012 in Nissan Leaf Diary

I am forever extolling the virtues of Rapid Chargers (RCs) but my last few encounters with them has really annoyed me.

Firstly, last Wednesday (02/05) I was working in Ballycoolin and decided to get a RC off Nissan – Hutton & Meade as it was just down the road. When I got there, there was a display Leaf sitting in the RC charging space (and it wasn’t charging). I moved my car in a few directions and got it so that it would be able to reach the cable from the other side. When I got out I realised that the RC was actually switched off. All the while a guy from Nissan is watching me and seems to have no intention of either moving the display Leaf or switching on the RC. I mean, what’s the point in having them if you don’t want us to be able to use them. This I thought was fairly lousy salesmanship from Nissan – Hutton & Meade. As I had enough charge to get back to Citywest and then some, I travelled back and plugged in.

That was annoying but it wasn’t the worst experience I had. On Friday I travelled around doing bits and bobs in Laois. At 3pm, I decided I would head up to Dublin to collect my son and would just get a charge at the Mayfield garage in junction 14 M7. When I got there, to my dismay the charger was broke. I didn’t have enough charge to get to Dublin or back home. I rang the number on it and told them it was an emergency. While I waited for a call back, I plugged in at one of the standard street chargers. I got a call and was told an engineer was on his way from Dublin. After 1hr 30mins of waiting, I had enough charge from the standard CP and headed off to Dublin. I received a message 10 mins after leaving that the charger had been fixed. When I got to Dublin I decided I would get a RC in the Templeville Road Topaz garage. I pulled up, plugged in, set the time I wanted to charge and pressed start. Nothing happened, I repeated this 6 times and it never once started charging. I was now really pissed off with Rapid Chargers and headed into town. The only problem was that I needed to collect my son from Grand Canal street and had next to nothing left. I used the ESB eCars eConnect App to locate a charge point in Fitzwillian Street lower. As I was driving to it (in eco mode) my display showed —. This is the first time in a long time I have had any anxiety about the car. All I was thinking was, am I gonna run out of power & will the charger be working when I get there. Luckily, I got there ok and the charger was working. I got the boy, waited about for 30 mins and then took the car back to Nissan HQ in Park West where there was a working RC. To say this experience was souring is an understatement. Thinking it through I have some thoughts on the current Rapid Charger infrastructure.

The RC in M14 showed an error with a date and time of 05/03/2012 18:19 (American Date System m/d/y). The error had happened an entire day before and it was not reported until I rang. This shows that the chargers do not communicate back to the engineers or ESB eCars when there is a fault.

I was lucky that M14 garage has standard chargers as well as the RC. Most garages with an RC, only have an RC. So if I was at one of these I would have been screwed. It is a must that at least a second RC is in place for when one goes down.

RCs are planned to be in place every 60 km of each other. This is not enough, I don’t generally think of getting a charge when I have 60+km but do when I’m at 25km. Every 20 km from each other would be better. There are numerous in Dublin but become more scarce when you go out into the country (the place you really need them).

The engineer for the RC had to come from Dublin. OK, Monasterevin isn’t that far but what if I was stuck in Monaghan or Athlone. The engineers need to be more spread out.

Lastly, who looks after the chargers in Topaz garages. There is no number to ring on them and yesterday I checked again and Templeville Road charger is still doing the same.

All these things coupled with issues like St Agnes Road CP being down since December (nearly 5 months) makes the whole infrastructure look terrible. It’s just not good enough to lash in CPs all over the place. They need to be maintained and have quick repair times on them for people to want and trust them.

On a lighter note, an EV driver called Brian Cullen successfully drove from Dublin to Cork and back using the RCs on the way, this weekend gone. He done it in a relatively quick time as well. So when the RCs work, they are very useful.

  1. Paul says:

    These have been my thoughts for months The only way i can deal with it is to look at my leaf as a expensive toy my heart goes out to you guys who are trying to make sense of all this new tec

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Paul.
      I’m not trying to make sense of it. The car is fantastic and does 99.9% of what I need (and I travel a good distance).
      I needed to buy a new car as the one I had was rubbish and this seem the most future proof especially in the case of fuel prices.
      My issues as you can see documented are based on real life driving. The RCs are great but all machinery they will not be 100% up,
      so a secondary backup is needed. I hope my thoughts help out in the future design/planning of the infrastructure.
      Thanks for reading the blog and for your input.

  2. Jonathan Meade says:

    There should have been no reason to move in a few directions, a simple enquiry at reception to let us know that you wanted to use the FAST CHARGER would have resulted in you gaining access to a parking spot, a rapid charge, a read of the newspapers and probably one of the best cups of coffee around rather than assuming that the staff at the reception area knew what your intentions were.

    This RC has been used on many occasions by other EV drivers and the local ESB but is not left on standby as this is truly a waste of energy.

    Remember, the coffee is always on…..

    Jonathan Meade, MD, Hutton & Meade

    • naturalblue says:

      Thanks for the update. What I will say is this. I can see no reason why you would not have a simple sign on the RC saying “ask in inside for use of the charger”. As Nissan dealerships in Ireland have no standard rules or policies on the RCs, it simply looks (when you pull up to the RC) that is is out of service. As I say, each dealership seems to have the RCs done differently. Nissan – Belgard have it inside behind gates where it cannot be used in the evenings, Nissan Kilkenny have it on the outside near the gate where it is very accessible all day, Nissan Deansgrange have it in the back where it is not accessible at night but they do have a standard charger outside for use and Nissan HQ in Park West have it at the side of the Car Park, easily accessible. Therefore with all the different setups, I (as a customer) thought it was out-of-service, being this the first time I have seen one powered off without being broken. Also as I was being watched from inside and no-one let me know, it confirmed even more that it was actually broken.

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