Nissan takes on Tesla with free charging for new Leaf drivers in Texas

Nissan is trying to make its all-electric Leaf hatchback a more enticing option to the flashy alternatives from Tesla Motors. Under a new promotion, anyone who buys or leases a Leaf in the Houston or Dallas, Texas area between October and the end of March 2014 will be given one year of free access to NRG’s eVgo’s charging stations. For those who can reach one of NRG’s 23 stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex or its 17 stations around greater Houston, that could mean a year of cost-free fuel for commuting. That’s a fairly limited scope for the new program overall, but a Nissan spokesperson told that this may be just the beginning. “It’s a pilot program, so we’ll want to see how it goes,” Nissan’s spokesperson said. “NRG has eVgo networks in other markets, and we have high hopes for this program.”

It’s a modest start to a type of deal that could eventually challenge the perks that come with owning a Tesla Model S: free “supercharging” for the lifetime of the car. Nissan’s perk falls short for now, but there’s one area where it could quickly come out ahead. Tesla’s charging stations are still limited in number, though the automaker has detailed ambitious expansion plans. While NRG’s charging stations are only available in a few areas, Nissan could ultimately come out ahead if it’s willing to broker similar partnerships across the country to serve Leaf buyers no matter where they need to fill up their electrical tanks.

Attila Szoke