Mark Biron of Somersworth gets the inaugural charge for his Nissan Leaf, an electric car, at the charger's debut Thursday. (Eli Okun/Union Leader Correspondent)
Salem Nissan dealership unveils faster electric car charger
By ELI OKUN
Union Leader Correspondent
— The Nissan dealership here on Thursday celebrated the grand opening of a new level 3 DC fast charger for electric cars, which local and state leaders called a crucial component of building infrastructure for a more environmentally friendly transportation world.
The technology of the charger, which is free to use for any electric cars 24/7 and is the first of its kind at any New Hampshire Nissan dealership, constitutes something of a quantum leap for electric cars.
Lower-level chargers, said dealership owner Dan Forget, take six to eight hours to prepare a vehicle for its next 100 miles or so; many people charge their cars overnight at home. But the level 3 charger gets the same job done much more quickly.
“With this one here, they can pop in on their lunch break and get a full charge,” he said.
Estimates of just how quickly the charger works seemed to accelerate as the grand opening went on Thursday. “Under 45 minutes,” Forget told the Union Leader. “Twenty minutes,” announced Dolores Rebolledo, Granite State Clean Cities Coalition coordinator. “Ten minutes,” declared Mike Fitzgerald of the Department of Environmental Services’ Air Quality Division.
Regardless of how many minutes it takes, precisely, they said the rapid charger helps increase demand for electric cars, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Only 67 other sites in New Hampshire currently boast the same or similarly fast chargers, but Fitzgerald said the state will need hundreds or thousands in the coming years. Building such infrastructure is also important for business and economic development, he said, as more and more vehicles coming to the Granite State for work need to recharge.
“Nissan can make an incredible product. We can work with our technology, but it’s really our dealers at the end of the day who make it happen, who are able to have the infrastructure,” said Erica Bruno, a Nissan district operations manager, at the ribbon-cutting.
Though electric cars aren’t a major portion of the dealership’s business, they make up a growing share, Forget said.
He declined to say how much the charger cost.
The event Thursday also served as a celebratory debut of sorts for the dealership’s new location on South Broadway, which opened in late February and replaced a smaller facility on Main Street. (A formal grand opening for the dealership is planned for the summer.)
It’s a building that takes environmental considerations seriously beyond the charger. Thanks to an $8,800 check from Liberty Utilities, LED lights illumine both the interior and the parking lots. Porous pavement in the entire rear of the property helps prevent runoff. And a conservation easement of more than 10 acres sits behind the dealership.
Fitzgerald said the transportation sector, more than many others, has to rely on private businesses’ voluntary activities or public incentives to mitigate environmental impact, so choices like adding the charger at the Salem dealership are critical.
“We think this is the future,” he said.