Do-It-Yourself Spirit Lives on in EV World


Upon delivery of the first Nissan Leaf electric cars to its buyers last December, many have started to tinker with the stock of the car in order to make this engineering marvel go better than how it was designed.

Many of these garage engineers have created many other options that even Nissan is taking into consideration.  One of them, a glitch that has plagued many Leaf owners, is a battery-charge gauge that has become untrustworthy. The readout often misleads the Leaf driver into the conclusion that the battery pack is out of power despite having plenty of juice left to power the car.

These backyard car enthusiasts are no pushovers. Many have engineering degrees from the foremost universities in the country. With their green mind set they recognize the quality of the craftsmanship that went into the Nissan Leaf. Improving the technology is just something they want to do for their own benefit. With the gauge issue, while the internal mechanism monitors the battery charge efficiently, the visual readout is just a simple twelve bar display on the dashboard. Their new battery gauge has created a more accurate readout on how far their battery can go with the power left in the pack.

Many Leaf support groups have sprung up in the areas where Nissan has delivered a number of units. In one such support group, an engineer was able to design the 120-volt charging cord accompanying the unit to be able to handle a 240-volt charge. This simple modification allows the recharging time to less than eight hours with the 240-volt charge compared to nearly twenty hours with the standard 120-volt charger. This new charger also can be plugged into any standard 240-volt household outlet that is used by any other household appliance.

Now these developments have made Nissan executives take notice. According to Brendan Jones, Director of Marketing and Sales Strategy for the Nissan Leaf, “These groups are springing up everywhere. We can’t take credit. The customers have done it on their own.” Another executive, Mark Perry, Director of Product Planning for the Nissan Leaf, confirms that Nissan engineers attend these group meetings. He said, “We’re not trying to control it, but we want to be responsive.”

One such group, called Bay Leaf located in the San Francisco Area, hopes that the carmaker would see their optimism and depth of thinking to help the company improve the Nissan Leaf.  And from there, Nissan is taking down notes.