Nissan Leaf To Get New Battery Pack

Nissan Motor Co. has sold more than 35,000 of its all-electric Leafs globally since its December 2010 launch and in time to hopefully curtail presently flagging sales, the latest word confirming previous rumors is it will be getting an improved battery.

“There is a second generation of battery coming [online] now … which is less costly than the previous one,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, but otherwise keeping details vague. “We are in a race in which you reduce the costs and adapt the price.”

The blogosphere recently picked up on a Japanese language report saying the battery would be somewhere around 25 percent more powerful, but Ghosn did not verify this estimation.

For those of you following this first-generation production EV, you might recall reports dating back to 2009 that a Nickel Manganese Cobalt li-ion chemistry would be coming, but here too, Ghosn does not confirm this – although some observers have suggested maybe this chemistry will comprise the updated battery.

What is reasonable at this juncture to speculate is if range was maybe 70-80 miles, the improved car ought to get north of 100 miles. If this is all it gets, that is less than the doubling early reports on Nickel Manganese Cobalt had promised, but better than the presently similar range Ford Focus Electric.

What ever comes, it will be an improvement and with a 6.6 kilowatt-hour charger on board instead of the 3.3-kwh unit, it should halve the Nissan’s Level 2 charging time – and stay competitive with the Ford which also has a 6.6-kwh charger.

Nissan manufactures its own batteries and word that it will cut costs ought to help it further against the limited availability Ford which has a very expensive battery.

In related news, Nissan is still declining to divulge any updates on what is believed to be heat-related battery degradation in Arizona and Texas. The company did take seven customer cars around late July/early August for thorough testing, but has most recently said it would let us know when it has something to share.

That brief reply was all it gave when told we’ve been getting reports of Leaf owners looking to take legal action, and upset worse than they’d been following reported quotes that Nissan executives have told dismayed owners of degraded cars that all is normal.

Far from agreeing what’s happening is “normal,” the MyNissanLeaf forum continues to be vocal and some Leaf owners are giving up waiting on Nissan to provide a satisfactory response, and are selling their once-beloved electric cars.

Whether we hear anything more on this subject from the company – or Nissan keeps what it somewhat dismissively describes as a “handful” of customer complaints shoved under the rug and moves onto a new battery and new customers is still an open question.

Aside from several dozen owners reporting what they believe to be premature battery failure due to heat, Nissan nationwide has seen a drop off in the sales momentum.

The company is nonetheless heavily invested to the tune of over $5 billion in global EV manufacture for the Leaf and other models now and pending, and while it still has disgruntled owners in hot states, all indications are the company is fully committed to their proliferation.


  • Van

    Yes the “25% increase is a mystery. Here is a guess: The new NMC chemistry provides a 54% increase in Kwh for the same cost. Thus, instead of a 24 Kwh battery Leaf selling for $35,000, Nissan could market a 36 kwh battery. However, if a smaller battery is installed, say a 30 kwh battery, the price component would also decrease, so the Leaf price could drop by $3000 or so dollars.

    Note this would make the Leaf less than the C-Max and Fusion plug in’s, and about $8000 less than the Focus Electric.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    They should swap out all the existing Leaf batteries to avoid potential negative headlines in the future over battery loss in the heat etc…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • iiihe egrur

    bs

  • David Martin

    The major drawbacks of the lithium manganese chemistry used in the Leaf is durability and performance in hot weather.
    The Volt which uses a similar chemistry has liquid cooling which helps, as would a larger capacity which obviously allows the battery to degrade further and still have usable range.
    It would also cycle more slowly, increasing life.

    Just the same other chemistries have double the cycle life or better, including some variants of NMC which Nissan was developing.

    I think if Nissan/Renault do not address those issues as well as cost they are toast.

  • Van

    @David Martin: Spot on!!

  • Kelly R. Olsen

    I hope this is true, but Nissan reps at the AltCar Expo in Santa Monica yesterday stated that there will be NO new batteries or extended range in the 2013 LEAF, despite rumors to the contrary. I hope they are misinformed or purposefully saying this so they can deplete current inventory.

  • Nicholas Gabel

    The main problem is the cooling of the battery pack. Nissan uses air cooling (cheaper/less parts/less weight) while the other manufacturers use liquid cooling which protect the battery pack much better and maintains a more even temperature environment for the battery. Nissan should probably rethink the air cooling in their cars or maybe offer liquid cooling as an option for any cars destined for hot climates. How about an A/C duct(s) routed to the battery pack that would turn on automatically over a set temperature thereby aiding the cooling by the fans ?

  • yuval Brandstetter MD

    i drive the Fluence ZE with a swappable battery. i have driven this car through the extremely hot Israeli southern region and there is no degradation. Anyway, if i dont like a particular battery I drop it off at the next batt-swap station and drive off with another, on my way to see patients. Its a five minute deal. The real deal is in Australia where the swappable batt is 30 KwH, a good 40% more than my 22 KwH, so there is hope for a 130 mile battery whereas mine is a 90-100 mile battery

  • Van

    Recent reports say the Battery will remain at 24 Kwh for 2013, but by shedding some weight and improving both motor and controller efficiency, they have improved range by about 14%, i.e. from 73 to around 83 miles of range. Still needs more range and a battery warranty that takes the anxiety out of the way.