An overriding concern about the usefulness and practicality of electric vehicles has long been their limited range and long recharge times. Nissan has a new plan for the Leaf that could help alleviate some of those fears.
As part of the Zero Emissions Support Program, which the company is launching in Japan first and possibly in other markets (including the U.S.) in the future, Nissan will tow any dead Leafs to the nearest dealership and charge them up. That is, so long as you subscribe to the service at 1500 Yen ($18 at current conversion rates) per month.
Under the program, Nissan will cover up to 550,000 Yen ($6599) worth of emergency roadside assistance related to the batteries, including towing fees. Once at the dealership, the car will be charged for free. Subscribers will also be allowed to drop into any Nissan dealership for a free charge any time during business hours and will have access to a free 24-hour emergency operator. The service also includes free inspections every six months and a 50-percent discount on rental cars when you need a vehicle with greater range.
What do you make of this program? Is it a smart plan that will ease consumer fears of dead batteries, or does it just reinforce those fears? Should Nissan launch this service in the U.S. when the Leaf goes on-sale, or should customers fend for themselves?