Nissan Leaf reserved!

It was nail-biting. The email from Nissan Canada was expected to arrive at noon, containing the much expected “Reserve now” button. The link would send me to a personal URL, unique to my registration email address. I knew there would be hundreds of people expecting the same invitation and ready to compete for the (only) 40 cars available for consumers in Canada in 2011. The process is on a first-come first-served basis, so the race was on!

I didn’t want to run any risks of power outages, computer crashes or network failure so I had a backup laptop fully charged, tethered to my 3G phone and ready to go if something went wrong with my desktop. I also had three different browsers installed in case I ran into incompatibilities from the reservation system. I use Chrome as my default browser but decided to switch to Internet Explorer just in case the reservation system was browser-picky.

So punctually at 12:00PM the email came. And with it, the first surprise: Internet Explorer security settings wouldn’t allow me to see any images on the email, much less the Reserve Now button. No time to fiddle with settings, so I quickly switched back to Chrome which worked just fine. The reservation site opened, asked me to create a username, password and to enter my address. Done, submit. Error! No space allowed in the postal code. Duh! Go back, removed space, another error. Postal code doesn’t match province. I’m pretty sure I had entered ON but after the postal code error, the form apparently reset the province field back to AB… No problem, changed it back to ON, double checked everything, submit, another error! This time, no email address. How can that be? The form came with the registration email address already filled and read-only! Nevertheless the email field had just disappeared… OK, time to start over. Closed that session, clicked on the Reserve Now button again, entered all the data one more time, everything went through this time. I then answered all the questions, chose the trim level, color, QC port, and finally got to the $99 deposit page. Entered my credit card number, waited… Bingo! Time was 12:05 and I had just received my reservation number!

Despite all the errors and delays, it looks like I was reservation #10. How do I know? It’s very unofficial. Nissan went through all the trouble of making the reservation number an apparently random 32-bit hexadecimal number, but a friend at the Nissan Leaf Canada Facebook page cleverly noticed that the Transaction ID of the payment confirmation appears to be a sequential number. Mine ended with a 10. His was a bit higher and so was his friend’s. And we all registered about the same time (at the very beginning).

Then came the second part of the reservation: Scheduling the home assessment. Piece of cake, I thought. Just select the first available date, right? Not really. At the reservation calendar page, I got an error message saying “there are no available dates found in your postal code. please contact Nissan Canada call center at 1-877 NO GAS EV”. Great… I called the number, explain the issue to technical support, he kindly asked me to stay on the line while he called Aerovironment, Nissan’s EVSE partner. He then put me on a 3-way call with the Aerovironment support, who took my info and promised to call me on Monday with a resolution.

At this point, I tried to login at my account page and noticed that the system was really overloaded. Anyone trying to access the reservation page would either time out or get a “temporarily unavailable” page. Not nice.

I came back about an hour later and the home assessment issue had been fixed. I was finally able to set up an appointment, but only to September 13th! That was the earliest date available but Nissan told me they’re trying to get earlier dates and that I should get a call if they are able to.

So here’s how my account page looks like once the reservation process is completed. The home assessment line changed to “scheduled for <date>” once the appointment was booked.

Overall, it was a fairly stressful but still fun experience. Nissan was definitely caught a bit off guard in terms of server performance but it served to show that the amount of interest in this car is just fabulous. I hope Nissan will upgrade their server capacity before the next wave of reservations, because I’m sure the interest will quadruple when people start seeing this car on the road!

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