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Nissan to Install New Chargers for LEAF

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Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY - Free Report) seems to follow in the footsteps of Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA - Free Report) . The Japanese automaker plans to install more than 100 DC quick chargers at LEAF-certified dealers for its all-electric car LEAF in 21 key markets across the U.S. This follows Tesla’s May announcement of adding more supercharging stations across the U.S.

Nissan Motor will begin installing the new chargers in east coast  this summer. The company expects to complete installation of quick chargers and make them operational at 100 additional dealerships by Apr 1, 2014.

As part of this initiative, Nissan had launched a 24-dealer pilot program at dealerships located in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Seattle. During the program, Nissan studied the frequency of use for the chargers and the impact that charging has on its dealers’ performance.

AeroVironment is the charging partner of NSANY in the project. It will provide the quick chargers and installation services for nearly all of the new charging units.

The charging units use the CHAdeMO standard. They can charge the vehicles nearly 80% in about half an hour.

Electric cars have always been criticized for their limited driving range leading to their weak demand. This led to limiting sales of vehicles such as LEAF, General Motors’ (GM - Free Report) Volt and Toyota Motor’s (TM - Free Report) plug-in Prius.

Among the well-known electric cars, Tesla Motor’s Model S has a relatively longer driving range. The vehicle can travel 208 miles per charge for about three hours in normal driving conditions while its top-end model can travel about 265 miles in a single charge.

Tesla decided to expand the supercharging network so that owners of Model S sedan can make long-distance trips without any hassle since the network can recharge the battery up to 50% of its capacity in 20 to 30 minutes. With further improvements in technology, TSLA will reduce the time to fully recharge the battery nearly half an hour to 20 minutes.

Currently, TSLA has eight supercharger stations in California and on the East Coast. The company plans to add four stations in California this summer, so that by fall this year; it should have charging stations in most metro areas.

By 2014, Tesla plans to install charging stations within the reach of 80% of people in the U.S. and Canada, and 98% by 2015. With this, the company intends to provide supercharging stations every 80 to 100 miles.

Nissan Motor posted a 12.9% increase in sales to 92,237 units; it’s best-ever June sales. The improvement was driven by double-digit gains in Altima and Sentra sedans and fourfold increase in LEAF sales to 2,225 units after a price reduction of more than $6,000 at the beginning of the year. In the first half of the year, Nissan LEAF sales more than tripled to 9,839 units.

Currently, shares of Nissan Motor retain a Zacks Rank #1, which implies a short-term (one to three months) Strong Buy rating.

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