Cars Nissan LEAF battery upgrade

Published on January 19th, 2016 | by James Ayre

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3rd-Party Nissan LEAF Battery Pack Upgrades — Doubling To 48 kWh

January 19th, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

Those who own a Nissan LEAF but wish that the range was a bit higher may want to listen up — a company by the name of Hybrid Industries is now offering third-party battery upgrades for the popular electric car.

The upgrades reportedly (I can’t verify this personally) increase the Nissan LEAF’s single-charge range to 160 miles per charge, rather than ~80 miles per charge — for just $6,500. The upgrade is to a 48 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, from the standard 24 kWh battery that comes with current Nissan LEAFs.

Hybrid industries

One would presume, though, that the heavier battery would decrease range below the 160 miles per charge mark, rather than simply doubling range. Seems as though that would be the case, doesn’t it?

The company offers a 2–4 year “no hassle” warranty for the upgrade, so one would guess that the workmanship is fairly good (or at least decent). The new, additional 24 kWh battery (accompanying the factory-installed one) is apparently installed in the trunk in a “custom enclosure” — potentially altering the handling of the vehicle one would think.

Other things worth noting: the upgrade is compatible with the 2011 through 2014 model years of the EV; no extra components or charger are needed; and the new battery charges via the factory-installed charger just as the factory-installed battery does.

What does everyone think? Maybe better just to do the upgrade yourself (not the most complicated process, if you have related experience)? More trouble than it’s worth? Great option?

More information (and contact information) can be found at the company’s website here.

Image Credit: Hybrid Industries

 
 
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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • MJBTV

    I have a 2011 Leaf with just 31000 miles on it and already has dropped by two bars and only gets 50 miles to a charge. I use a 240 Volt 40 AMP connection to charge the Leaf but this car does not do what it used to do as far as range goes.

  • Scott Hovey

    For $6500 dollars I can buy a second used leaf and park it down the road.

  • danwat1234

    THIS IS EXCITING! This gives me hope that the Leaf will continue to have aftermarket support for even more battery capacity in the future when energy density goes up further! Used Leafs can be had for like $8K or less, so hell, get that used, live with the range for a while, then spend some money to double or triple it!

    Hopefully an aftermarket company will offer a battery swap; swapping the original pack with one that contains cells that are top of the line in terms of energy density and durability/life. 30KWh of the 2016 Leaf for starters. Crossing my fingers.
    I like the look of the Volt more, but…

  • Omer Ghani

    $6500 for 24 kWh which means $270 per kWh. So maybe Elon should stop building the gigafactory and buy from these guys. I guess with a “2 to 4” year warranty, these are most likely used Li Ion batteries.

    • Bob_Wallace

      In the fall of 2014 Tesla was paying Panasonic $180/kWh for battery cells.
      With the Gigafactory running the price is expected to drop 30%, to about $130/kWh and then work its way toward $100/kWh.

  • Chris

    Is “Hybrid Industries” legit? Is their addon-24kwh certified (car remains insurable)?
    Their website is unfinished.

  • nordlyst

    Maybe third-party BEV batteries will be of interest, eventually, but not like this, and probably never for the first-gen Leaf. A clumsy extra pack in the back certainly doesn’t tempt me – despite always being right on the limit range-wise with my 2012 Leaf…

    It is interesting to play with numbers a little just to get an idea of where, on a scale from no-brainer opportunity to business suicide, a battery replacement business targeting the Leaf might be.

    Density has been improving at least as fast since the Leaf first arrived as it did in the decade before, so a 7% per year estimate is conservative. That is 1.07 ^ 5 = 1.4026 => 40% per five years, and nearly a doubling (96%) in ten years.

    It is probably not very difficult technically to produce a pack with the same physical dimensions as the original and 40kWh of capacity. At the cell cost Chevrolet will be paying for the Bolt’s pack, $145 per kWh, that would give a cell cost of $5,800.

    I don’t know how easily such a pack can be made compatible with the existing power electronics (in particular the charger), but my guess is that it wouldn’t be a problem and that the only other required changes would be to software.

    A pack isn’t just cells though – some power and control electronics also go into the pack itself, and there’s the packaging itself into modules and the collection of modules we call the battery pack. Don’t really know what this costs, but I do know that cells are far and away the biggest cost making a pack, so let’s say another $1000 for a conservative estimate.

    Labour costs will vary a lot in different markets, but it isn’t an enormous operation. I’ve seen a video on youtube where a guy got a warranty replacement at his dealership, and he got the car back the day after he delivered it. Let’s say $1000 in labour cost as a reasonable/conservative guess.

    But the market is quite limited and ownership is thinly spread. Only 200 000 Leafs have been sold *globally*, and without backing from Nissan it’s hard to see who has the physical presence to perform the installations. Perhaps a manufacturer of such batteries could partner with lots of independent garages or franchises such as SnapDrive. I’m not sure. It’s surmountable of course, but it’s clearly an obstacle.

    By this reasoning we are speaking of parts costs of $6,800 and labour costs of another $1000. But we’ve completely ignored that there are a lot of other costs related to developing and marketing a product and running a business. So let’s smack on a hefty markup to make it worthwhile – say, 100%. Now SnapDrive and their likes would pay $13,600 for the parts and charge $2,000 for the labour, meaning that you, the dear customer, would have to part with $15,600 for the whole thing.

    You can nearly buy two pre-2013 complete Leafs, with 48kWh between them, for the same money. I doubt that enough people would want to buy this to make it worthwhile. At the same time, it’s not ten times the price people would pay – after all, one 40kWh Leaf would be a LOT more useful to many people than two 24kWh ones.

    How much do the assumptions have to change before it starts to look feasible? Let’s say cell cost has fallen to $100 and the overhead associated with turning them into a pack to $650. Let’s imagine viral marketing (which is free) succeeds among Leaf owners and upgrades are offered only in the densest markets – LA and Oslo, for example, and that the whole thing can therefore work with a lower markup of 70%. For the sake of optimism, say the labour cost (before markup) is only half of our previous guess, $500.

    This leads to parts cost of 40*100 + 650 = 4650 plus labour $500, for a price to the end customer of $5150 * 1.7 = $8,755.

    Nearly as much as one pre-2013 Leaf, but I would order it today if I could (provided of course I was convinced of the safety, quality, legality and warranty involved – a few minor hurdles on the way).

    In short, it’s not very surprising that Nissan or third parties aren’t offering pack upgrades today. It looks just about possible to start doing so around 2020 if everything goes really well. But to my mind, it looks like a big risk that gives modest rewards in the best case, so I don’t think anyone’s going to do it.

    Presumably a lot more EVs will be sold in 2018-2020 than were sold 2011-2013, so the market will be bigger and denser. Capacity will also be much greater (2017 Bolt offers 60kWh), but it will continue to improve and cost will continue to fall. It might make sense to replace a 2017 Bolt battery around 2027, when it’s lost some capacity (say, to 45kWh) and enough time has passed to make batteries twice as good rather than 40% better. Then again, many can probably live with 45 kWh, and installing a 100kWh pack might be overkill since the car probably won’t live another full decade… or may have become utterly obsolete because cars have turned totally autonomous in the mean time.

    All I can say for sure is I wouldn’t put my money into a battery-replacement business, for the Leaf or any other car. So I don’t critisize others for not putting their money in it, either.

  • newnodm

    Perhaps the great significance of this product is that it suggests China is wholesaling inexpensive Li-ion batteries. As Marion suggested with the powerwall, this is highly significant.

  • NRG4All

    Yesterday I called Nissan LEAF Customer Care and talked to a rep. I asked if the new 30 kWh battery coming out in the 2016 high-end models could be purchased and installed in older models with the 24 kWh battery when the 24 kWh battery was due for replacement. He said absolutely not. That seems short sighted from the perspective that the older models value will decrease if they can’t be upgraded. After all, Tesla has come out with a new battery pack for their roadster.

    • newnodm

      You pay $100K for a tiny EV and Nissan will be glad to do a future battery upgrade. Most people would be better of spending the $6500 on a trade in for a 30kwh Leaf or a Bolt.
      Personally I wouldn’t drive around in a car full of cheap Chinese batteries that are sold at a price that can’t possible include collision testing.

    • Benjamin Nead

      If I called Apple and asked for them to supply me with a 4 gigabyte RAM chip for one of their 10 year old computers, I would certainly get a similar response. While we’re at it, see if Tesla will sell you a charging connector, like one found in a Model S, for that Roadster, so you can start using the Roadster at Supercharger stations.

    • Modok EvilMastermind

      I would be surprised if this holds true a year from now. All the articles point out the batteries fit in the same space as the 24kWh batteries. There could be some other important difference why the new batteries won’t work, but it seems like a bad PR move if a good reason does not come out…

      • NRG4All

        I agree. Everything I’ve read about it also says the the 30 kWh pack fits in the 24 kWh pack space. That is why I’m surprised. We are on our second three year lease of a LEAF. The current one is a 2014. With the technology changing as fast as it is, I won’t consider purchasing a LEAF until I know there is some effort on their part to allow upgrades when it comes time to get a new battery for whatever price they are charging. It would also seem to make sense if it allowed them not to manufacture and store old technology batteries.

  • Freddy D

    What I find interesting is that this equipment is now cheap enough that third parties are able to make a go of it in customizing products without subsidies. This is s huge milestone, regardless of whether it’s any good.

    There might be 100 different products and modifications that we never anticipated coming out of the woodwork.

    And when mainstream hobbyists start using this technology to modify their cars…. All signs that Li ion has arrived to the mainstream

  • TooTallUK

    The after market upgrade market for batteries was always going to get here and it is needed. We accept these companies in the rest of the motor industry and they serve a growing need. If I can buy an older EV/hybrid and upgrade the batteries at non-dealer prices, and probably with newer tech, I’ll be far more interested in such cars!

  • ROBwithaB

    Are these brand new batteries? Who is supplying them these cells?
    Interesting….

    • I’m betting they are refurbished packs out of existing salvaged LEAFs

    • Benjamin Nead

      And I’m betting that the cells are new. It’s actually pretty easy to get high quality lithium cells directly from a manufacturer, if you’re buying sufficient wholesale quantities. Hang around EV converters long enough and you’ll find several of them getting together to chip in on a large quantity minimum order. Happens every day.

  • Riely Rumfort

    Double the battery is never exactly double the range, weight gains.

  • Schmidlack

    I want the battery technology GM will use in their Bolt which is made by LG. They are the current world leaders in battery tech. Nissan may use them for the next Leaf and it would be logical for them to make replacement Leaf batteries, hopefully just about the time I need one – two years.

  • Dragon

    This is great news if this really works but I’m highly dubious. Plugging a 48kwh battery into a car where all its systems were written to expect a 24kwh battery leads to a whole range of problems from simply not working to battery damage to a battery charge gauge that doesn’t tell you how much charge you have left. Nobody was ever able to overcome all these problems when adding a third party battery to Toyota Prius despite over a decade of trying. You’re basically hacking a piece of tech to work with the car’s existing systems and that requires a serious investment of time in reverse engineering to do it properly, and that time investment normally makes the whole product too expensive. If they haven’t put in the time and energy testing on their own cars or found some extremely lucky/clever workaround or had Nissan cooperate and provide them technical information, then anyone who installs this is acting as a beta tester and likely voiding their warranty and risking damage to the car. All in all this is more likely to be an unstable, dangerous, experimental product than a real, safe thing to do, but as usual, I hope I’m wrong!

    • Riely Rumfort

      Charging the battery, Braking recovery feedback, equalized voltage levelizing, heating evenly in cooler climates, post production wiring, putting these in series with the rest you better trust those BMSes or things will be askew.
      I’d think there should be some uh ohs somewhere. I doubt you’re wrong, I recall the Prius plug in conversions and upgrades having bugs as well.

    • josetony

      How about two independent charging cables for the two sets of batteries? I think it might work.

    • Knetter

      At some point they will get it right though. Wonder if it’ll raise the resale value of a used Leaf.

    • Benjamin Nead

      I know several people who have successfully added extra packs to their Prius. I also spent the afternoon chatting with one of these modifier/manufacturers and walked away impressed with what they were doing. There are (or were) several companies doing this and their approaches were radically different. The more successful ones kept the stock NiMH battery pack and related electronics intact, adding a booster pack of Lithium cells. Electronics were also added that “tricked” the car’s stock computer into thinking that the pack was larger. The companies who scrapped the stock older pack and built a new one from scratch had a much rougher time meeting their goal.

      The warranty voiding issue is complex. If you have a high mileage car (the obvious candidate for these sort of modifications) you probably don’t have a warranty left to deal with. The aftermarket manufacturer I talked to said it’s entirely dependent on the dealership who services the car. His unit can be completely removed and the resulting vehicle is essentially unmodified. Some dealer service departments understand that and have no issues working on those vehicles. Other dealer service departments, though, go completely apoplectic when they see something like this and refuse to work on the car.

      If anything, the booster pack on a pure EV, where both the original and the add-on pack are composed of the same cells and there is no ICE engine to deal with, is probably going to be a much more straight ahead proposition that what had to be dealt with on hybrids.

    • eveee

      Cooling is the biggest issue. Hard to cool in a trunk.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Depends on who is doing that upgrade.
      Here we got Kreisel who will turn a (ICE) Mercedes Vivano into an 200mile EV and sell the whole car for 78k€.
      I’d definitely trust them to upgrade a Leaf.
      The charger shouldn’t be a problem if you can add a balancer for more cells. Voltage stays the same. The range readings will just measure the system voltage. Should just stay at full for longer and would probably not be that accurate (showing less range) till the end. When voltage starts to drop the real range and estimated range will converge.
      Alternatively the second battery could just be switched on after the original pack is empty.
      A bigger battery would maybe improve cooling too. Higher capacity should yield a cooler pack as you pull less C…theoretically…and it should also be good for battery life (you charge at half the C rating compared to the original pack if youbuse the same charger).
      But yes – would be interesting to hear it from someone who did the upgrade.

  • Marion Meads

    These guys should REALLY make a 24kWH Powerwall for $10K and they will bludgeon Tesla’s plans for battery energy storage! They’ll get much more profit than having to put it into the trunk of Nissan Leaf and get a mere $6.5K. Use your brain folks! I’ll be first in line for a 24 kWH battery energy storage!

    • Aren’t they holding down the cost by reusing the battery controller and charger circuits already in the Leaf? Wouldn’t making a Powerwall competitor from a Leaf battery pack require adding those components and thus significantly increase the cost? Just asking.

      • MarTams

        Controllers for charging are more simplified in the larger battery packs of Nissan and LG Chrm than that used by Tesla. Shouldn’t cost more than $2,000 bucks for a very very good one with inverter built-in.

      • eveee

        Only so much they can share. The BMS circuits fit on every battery separately. This pack is added, so its like a separate, independent pack. The key issue is to match the total pack voltages. Thats where they unite. system voltage is the same. the pack is in parallel.

        • Riely Rumfort

          Many BMS are used in series(half dozen batteries) all depends on the voltages/scale.

          • eveee

            Only one per series element. The two packs are separate. Doubt the controller can be shared, but its possible.
            The picture is for prismatic lithium cells with BMS attached, one per cell.

            http://www.pluginsupply.com/images/cell-boards-prismatic.jpg

          • Riely Rumfort

            In most cases automotively, yes, they are paired BMSs, I was just pointing out the exception(since powerpacks were also being discussed). There are a whole gambit of BMSs which vary, some solo 72volts 60 amps etc etc. In automotive the scale conventionally necessitates mono y mono.

          • eveee

            The purpose of BMS with lithium is to guarantee each cell has the same charge. The charger charges the pack in series, but only the individual BMS per cell can guarantee equal charge for each cell. The BMS controller that talks to the BMS can be shared if its compatible and is capable of handling it.
            That necessity is driven by lithium ions intolerance of under/over charging. It can destroy the pack or start a fire.

          • Riely Rumfort

            No, I’m stating there are BMS which hook to multiple cells. I know what they do, as my comments on this thread indicate.
            1 BMS can have 12 outputs which hook to the negative/positive of 6 batteries, some even more.
            Controller not just ‘can be shared’ they are, there are many models already on the market which do just that.

          • eveee

            I am familiar with both kinds. They measure each cell a different way. Just because the controller is shared, does not mean its programmed properly for different battery chemistries and many other issues. This is not as easy as falling off a log. The sensors for the multi cell BMS either need to support the higher string voltage or have voltage isolation.

            http://www.ti.com/mcu/docs/litabsmultiplefilelist.tsp?sectionId=96&tabId=1502&literatureNumber=slaa478&docCategoryId=1&familyId=342

          • Riely Rumfort

            Oh I agree, hence why I spoke of scale.
            ‘Easy as a falling off a log’ new one to me. Makes me want to inquire whether this is a sitting or upright scenario. Or maybe when all those Japanese people have a big downhill ‘Log Riding Festival’ surely that isn’t easy.

        • I was going by the article: “no extra components or charger are needed; and the new battery charges via the factory-installed charger just as the factory-installed battery does”.

          Obviously the second pack must be wired in parallel, but it sounds as if the are pack-switching – only one pack is active at a time, while the other pack is fully disconnected. This may allow the BMS and charger to be multiplexed between packs, avoiding the extra expense that would be incurred if we were (as Marion suggested) building a home power system instead.

          • eveee

            Pack switching? That one is new to me. That would require some delicate maneuvering. One doesn’t just switch over packs the way one switches gas tanks. It would be much easier to do with the vehicle stationary or coasting. With all that inductive machinery, you don’t just turn the current off suddenly. That could be destructive.

    • vensonata

      I would think they could package this battery for stationary storage for $7000 with the BMS. Plug straight into PV array. The inverter can be off the shelf solaredge storedge. The inverter costs are included in the PV package. The total package should be eligible for 30% tax rebate. That means the battery portion is approaching $5000. The battery is 24 kwh but only 21 is useable. Still we are at $240 kwh. The question remains “how many cycles does this battery have over its lifetime. Until we know that we cannot give a price per kwh. But if is 5000 then it is 5cents kwh, if 2500, 10 cents kwh, if 1500, 16 cents kwh. The Tesla 7 kwh powerwall is estimated at about 11.5 cents kwh by Morgan Stanley, and I also independently arrive at the same figure. So the bottom line is: if this battery packaged for stationary including BMS and having a minimum of 2000 cycles, it competes evenly with Tesla powerwall 7 kwh on price per kwh.
      One more thing: if the Tesla powerwall 7 kwh gets a 30% rebate it comes in below 8 cents kwh.

      • newnodm

        No way the storedge is controlling your prospective generic pack. The storedge would do a handshake with the powerwall before placing it in the circuit to keep things from going boom.

        But we can take Marion’s pack and add a Chinese storedge equivalent and get a prospective inexpensive system. I’m sure a number of no-name companies are working on this right now if wholesale batteries are really at this level.

        This Leaf pack could not be real, however, They could just be testing the market with a small number of units, with the intention of creating a product when cell prices fall more.

        • vensonata

          “No way the storedge is controlling your prospective generic pack.” That is correct. Did I not mention a BMS plugged into your PV? That is the battery charger controller. The inverter is going to come after the battery. Why solaredge? Just because this battery may be 480 volts. If it was 48 volts on exit then any off grid inverter would do. This is a small battery from an off grid perspective. Two of them would be nice.

    • neroden

      You’re right. This purported price is cheaper than the Powerwall. Um… guys, where are you getting your batteries and is there a supply limitation?

  • evfan

    This is interesting, but if we wait a while, better products will become available. They have sold so many Leafs that somebody is going to develop a replacement battery pack for Leaf that has more capacity than the stock 24kWh.

  • Mikgigs

    Ahaaa… Here is the weak spot of Nissan Leaf car. Let’s imagine that this battery will serve flawlessly 10 years(which is doubtful). 6500 eur/10’= 650 eur is the same price I pay for gas every year. My assumption is that second hand electric vehicles are still comparably expensive as second hand ice cars.

    • JeffJL

      Apples and oranges Mikgigs.

      Comparing capital costs with running costs. Sometimes a sign of people who do not want a reasoned debate.

      That said the overall costs of BEVs (running and depreciation) are more expensive than for the equivalent ICE car due to the higher upfront cost. However most people do not buy BEVs based on financial reasons. Nor do most people purchase luxury vehicles on financial reasons.

      • Actually, your point about higher upfront cost only applies when buying new. When comparing used ICE and BEV options, I found the BEVs had depreciated much faster and thus offered substantially lower acquisition costs, in addition to (now) lower depreciation costs (because of faster up-front depreciation) and lower operating costs. Win, win… win!

        Dr. Thomas Stanley, author of the bestseller “The Millionaire Next Door” (among others), found that a large majority of American millionaires purchased cars that were 2 to 3 years old, avoiding the steep initial depreciation – an example of the type of thinking that led them to the millionaires’ club in the first place. Turns out this works doubly well with EVs.

        • Riely Rumfort

          The cutting edge can bleed you out indeed.

        • razorsbk

          I can only agree with you here, it’s best not to buy new if dont have at least double the value of the car in savings.
          But buying a SH electric car has it risk: mileage for example.
          If you buy a 3 year old Tesla with lets say 100k miles on it, i’d be worried. But there are great deals out there too 3 year old cars with less than 50k miles. Also you still have 5 years of warranty left. In about 3 years from now it would be great to buy an electric car with more choices than tesla/leaf.

          • Exactly.

            Since I needed a new vehicle to replace my beloved Mustang Convertible (with 238,000 miles on it) for a 50 mile round-trip daily commute, buying a gently used 2012 Leaf SL with 9,288 actual miles for less than $14k cash was pretty much a no brainer.

            It actually cost less upfront than the comparable smoker commuter vehicles I was willing to consider, even adding the $800 one-time cost to install a Level 2 charger in my garage. Since my power plan is under 5 cents per kWh, it only costs a third as much in fuel each month as a 35 mpg smoker. Plus no emission testing for registration, no oil changes, and not a penny of maintenance in its first year. All in all, it has proven very economical while also promoting renewable energy and no-emission driving.

          • Andy

            5 cents per kWh? Where do you live?

          • razorsbk

            I’m also intrigued by that rate, i usually pay 15 cents per KWh (standard rate), probably a night rate would be better.

          • newnodm

            It is windy at night. In Texas, that means very cheap electricity.

          • Calamity_Jean

            Free, in at least some places.

          • Texas. We have competition. Visit powertochoose dot org, enter zip code 76001, view plans, and play around with the filters (note the Renewable Power filter, btw). You can probably do quite a bit better than 5 cents per kWh if you use the “right” criteria. 😀

          • newnodm

            Yeah, but now you are driving a car that looks like a Leaf rather than a car that looks like a Mustang convertible.

        • Jenny Sommer

          There is a sweet spot when buying used cars. It’s further down the 2-3 years. Somewhere around 7-9years and under 140.000kms.
          The car shouldn’t cost more than 20% of the original price and come with a maintainance register….regular service done by a registered dealership.
          That way you can look up everything that was done to the car in the manufacturers data base if you know someone with access.
          You can also have the car checked by an independent motorclub before buying.
          Then you do repairs on your own using after market parts…

          I guess EVs depreciate much like old technology does…more like smartphones than cars.
          This will probably last till they have reached some standard battery size/range in a given segment.

      • eveee

        The Leaf has lower total cost of ownership than hybrids or internal combustion vehicles.

        “According to a study published in June 2013, by the Electric Power Research Institute, the total cost of ownership of the 2013 Nissan Leaf SV is substantially lower than that of comparable conventional and hybrid vehicles. For comparison, the study constructed average hybrid and conventional vehicles and assumed an average US distance per trip distribution. The study took into account the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, taxes, credits, destination charge, electric charging station, fuel cost, maintenance cost, and additional cost due to the use of a gasoline vehicle for trips beyond the range of the Leaf.[79][80]”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Leaf

        • JeffJL

          Opps. I keep on forgetting about the visionary credits available in the US and other countries. Not available here in Australia.

          Still a study by the Electric Power Research Institute may be a little biased. Not saying it is wrong, just need to note the backers of the study. (I am a BEV owner).

          • eveee

            Other sources say the same thing. Plug in some numbers for total cost of ownership at edmunds.com. You will find that a Corolla is thousands more over the first five years. The myth that EVs are more expensive continues.. apparently even among EV owners.

    • eveee

      You left out the maintenance cost. EVs are much lower for maintenance and fuel. Look for the table. The Leaf is 38k over 5 years. Average conventional, 45k. Thousands less.

      “According to a study published in June 2013, by the Electric Power Research Institute, the total cost of ownership of the 2013 Nissan Leaf SV is substantially lower than that of comparable conventional and hybrid vehicles. For comparison, the study constructed average hybrid and conventional vehicles and assumed an average US distance per trip distribution. The study took into account the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, taxes, credits, destination charge, electric charging station, fuel cost, maintenance cost, and additional cost due to the use of a gasoline vehicle for trips beyond the range of the Leaf.[79][80]”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Leaf

      • newnodm

        The Model S has not been low maintenance, and will likely be extremely expensive to repair out of warranty.

        • neroden

          (a) nearly all the maintenance is stupid early-production-line issues. I can vouch for this personally; there’s been a lot of work done on the car but nearly all of it was “replace the part we originally used with the revised part which is better which we use in new cars now”. Practically none of it qualifies as maintenance; nearly all of it is “design defects”. Honestly, another manufacturer might refer to it all as “recalls”. For what it’s worth.

          (b) the warranty is 4 years, but 8 years/unlimited miles on the drivetrain and battery, which is what most people worry most about.

          The expense of out-of-warranty repairs depends largely on the level of dumbassery at Tesla: if they release their manuals it won’t be so bad.

    • Riely Rumfort

      There are more costs to ICEs than their consumer pricetag and gas tank. I feel you’re missing the point of ‘going green’.

      • jeffhre

        What are those additional costs?

        • Riely Rumfort

          Environmental, health(breathing by pedestrians, mechanics, drivers, water contaminations which effect nature at large) mining, climate.
          The whole future of the planet.

          • jeffhre

            LOL, yeah, wow, that’s inconvenient! Assumptions are killers aren’t they! Strange how taking care of a motor with two moving parts and some bearings is deemed more expensive than an engine with hundreds of parts and a complex pollution control system.

            And if ICE’s are going to be around awhile, maybe we should all get bio-weapons defense filters. Yet, with oil at $27 it’s going to be hard to attract investment for more exploration.

          • Riely Rumfort

            I’m not sure I get what you’re getting at, I assume your use of the words inconvenient and calling it’s harmful effects an assumption are hint towards disagreeing?
            Stop speaking riddles, state your point so I can rape it with statistics.

          • jeffhre

            Yes, rape it with statistics. I’m saying Mikgigs assumptions are biased and Gore said something about being inconvenienced!

            Although at current prices the driver of the ICE would find his wallet as well as his world far more inconvenienced than a buyer of a used Leaf. As long is he is smart about his range needs.

            And isn’t it mano a mano?

          • Riely Rumfort

            Still trying to be cryptic, do you or do you not believe hydrocarbons effect environment/health?
            And no, I mean mono y mono, one and one, latin and spanish, not hand and hand.

          • jeffhre

            Ahh latin!

          • jeffhre

            Wow – nevermind! Pretend this train wreck never happened.

      • razorsbk

        I dont think there are, but it depends on the reliabilty of the brand (Honda, Toyota etc vs BMW). For an ICE car you need to have it inspected and parts replace every year/2 years depending on how much you drive.
        I usually do it every 2 years and pay around 200$ (in Europe). There are also taxes for owning a care with engine displacement >2000cmc, which are huge. You can get to paying every year 2k$ while the average wage is 500$/month. Now everybody can afford a sportier car.
        And there are also other issues with ICE cars: clutch replacement (500$), transmission problems (500$), engine starter (300$), turbo (600$) etc. You get rid of these repairs with an electric car, and also you skip road taxes and yearly taxes.

        • Riely Rumfort

          ‘In Europe’ well that’s not everywhere. Also just because it meets standards doesn’t make it safe, close the garage with it running.
          Your comment starts out defending the safety of ICEs yet talks about their disadvantages by the end, I side which I’m already on. I’m not sure what else to say.

    • You are assuming battery prices will not fall.

      In 2012 aftermarket upgrades were available for the LEAF. $7,500 for 12kWh battery upgrade.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2012/08/26/leafhack-gives-nissan-leaf-more-range-with-drawbacks/

      3 years later this upgrade offers double the battery upgrade size at $1,000 less cost.

      In 2-3 years this will make economic sense.

  • markogts

    If battery prices will come down as promised by some forecasts i.e. faster than the cars are aging, retrofitting bigger batteries will be an interesting business. Imagine transforming a Tesla 60 into a Tesla 90, or double the gen. 1 Volt EV range, for just some grands.

    Actually, this perspective helped me not to worry excessively for battery life – I bet they will be cheap enough to replace sooner than I will need it.

    • That was one factor in my decision to buy a 2012 Leaf SL at a substantially lower price than a 2013. In 3 or 4 years, a 3rd party battery may well offer 160 to 200 miles of range for the price of a new transmission on a smoker, and I’ve paid for a few of those already. If not… well, slashing my gas bill while charging from a full renewable power plan made it worthwhile either way. 🙂

  • vensonata

    The price is $270 kwh, including installation. That is better than a powerwall at $428 for the 7 kwh and $350 for the 10 kwh. Only the 100 kwh powerpack is less at $250 kwh. Hmmm, might be nice as stationary storage. Anybody know the cycle life?

    • Andy

      Probably on par with an EV battery similar to the Leaf’s. The storage use profile isn’t that different than an EV’s, perhaps even easier on the battery without quick charging and the ability to avoid deep discharge.

      I think the simplest way to take advantage of a stationary battery (in a limited way that requires no extra hardware or expertise) is to basically have a second EV. Allow the EV you’re not driving to charge during peak solar production, and drive whichever one is full when you need it. This is assuming you’re normally at work during peak sunlight hours and can’t charge the EV your drove.

      Add V2G technology and you have a true stationary setup (on wheels).

      • Riely Rumfort

        2 EVs? Depending on which(and their production), a Prius would be far more efficient ecologically…

        • Andy

          Oh yeah, you would need very specific circumstances for it to pay off!

          • Knetter

            then again you’d have to want a prius; which hasn’t seen a substantial improvement since it’s debut.

    • Raphael Sturm

      I guess its more expensive, if its smaller. Things like cooling and battery management controllers get more expensive per unit. Also, don’t forget the bricking buffer on the Leaf, that will increase the price to $310 per usable kwh.

  • Omega Centauri

    Does it invalidate Nissan’s warranty? Also I’d be nervous having a big battery on the passenger side of the firewall. If the main battery caught fire, there would likely be plenty of time to exit the vehicle before the fire got inside the cabin, but with one of these???

    I like the idea, but think the drawbacks could be too much.

    • sjc_1

      Then don’t buy one.

    • GCO

      FWIW, the chemistry Nissan selected seems pretty darn stable…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz37WycW-7E

      • Andy T

        Nice to see that physical damage doesn’t result in an explosive fireball. Now short the battery terminals and see what happens…. You might want to wear some personal protective equipment!

    • The warranty would most likely no longer be valid, but many LEAF’s do high miles and will be out of any and all warranties after 100,000 miles. I’m at 83,000 miles right now and will pass 100,000 by the end of this year.

      The timing for introducing an after market upgrade is right. I’d prefer if the additional pack was smaller and didn’t take up most of the trunk space.

  • Very cool. I was wondering when someone would offer this. Grab a used $7500 LEAF, add this upgrade and you can have near Bolt performance for $13k. Not bad. They also appear to offer replacement hybrid packs for the Prius, Insight, Civic, Camry, etc. at a very reasonable price.

  • Rafael Formisano

    So retail price is 270 KWH in 2016.

  • Marion Meads

    Why won’t Nissan do this?

    • They absolutely will and are working their way up to it. This temporary solution has the big compromise of taking a lot of trunk space and added weight. Updated chemistry with greater energy density will allow Bolt type ranges in the next gen LEAF…or Nissan won’t be able to sell too many.

      • nordlyst

        I’m not sure it would even be road legal here in Norway. Handling must be affected, and on snowy winter roads I wouldn’t want to add that much weight over/behind the rear axle on my front wheel drive car.

        • twodaughters

          I also wonder what this company is doing to adjust the Lithium Battery Controller since the software is programmed by Nissan for a 24kW original battery.

        • jcitizen

          That’s funny? I always added weight to the rear of any vehicle to improve handling in the winter. The more weight on the wheels the more traction.

          • Brent Jatko

            The front wheels are the drive wheels, so I still don’t understand how weighting the wheels that do nothing but hold up the rear of the car will accomplish anything.

          • jcitizen

            The car I was referring to was a FWD vehicle too. Putting weight in the rear helped keep it from slipping sideways going around corners. I used to do that every winter. Worked every time. I also once had a real wheel drive Renault, with the engine in the rear, and I put weight in the trunk up front for a similar effect, except it did also help with steering. Traction is traction, you need it front and back in deep snow and slush. My buddy did the same with his VW Beetle.

          • Brent Jatko

            Thanks.

          • Moohamed

            Not in a front wheel drive vehicle like the leaf, great for RWD pick ups though.

          • jcitizen

            With all that battery weight, I’d think the Leaf would generally handle fairly well with all weather tires. It should be fairly balanced with motor & controller weight up front and battery weight near the rear.

          • Moohamed

            It actually is very well balanced, during a -60c stretch the slat doesn’t work and the place I was living was cheap on the sand, it handled impeccably!

          • André Beaulieu

            Never had to put weight in the back of a front-wheel drive. Good quality winter tires on four wheels does the job just fine.

      • coldspring22 .

        Yes it’s hard to imagine adding another 600 pounds of battery to leaf. It seems like it’s too heavy. Total maximum load capacity of Leaf is only 930 pounds. So with 600 pounds of battery in the trunk, you have only 330 pound capacity left. Two people sitting in car could exceed this limit, not counting any other items that they are hauling. More reasonable upgrade would add maximum of 300 pounds of battery to leaf, and extending range 40%, and this is still very nice upgrade.

    • sjc_1

      Nissan will not even sell the batteries to companies TRYING to do this.

      • nordlyst

        If this is so feasible to make money on, why don’t you use this amazing opportunity to get rich rather than complain? Do the research, figure out how this can be done, make a business plan, and pitch it. There’s tons of money around and plenty of people who are willing to take on reasonable risk if there are good chances to make a good profit.

        But you might need to actually attempt to look into whether or not it’s even possible, or likely, that you can really offer something enough people will buy, at a price that covers all the costs and a bit more.

        I have just attempted some quick guesswork to see if such a business looks feasible. My “analysis” is surely simplistic and probably completely wrong (though I don’t know if it’s too optimistic or too pessimistic; it is after all my best guesses), and I invite you to do your own. But unfortunately my attempt did not lead me to say “this looks really promising, I’ll definitely look more seriously into this”, but instead to think “I have probably glossed over a lot of difficulties here that would add a lot of costs, and it still looks awful”.

        I think the very mundane reason why Nissan isn’t offering a battery upgrade for the LEAF is that they can’t do so profitably.

    • It’s a mystery.

      Nissan are an enigma. They we’re first to market with a modern BEV.
      They have fallen behind the competition.
      2016 LEAF SV/SL models boast 30% more range, while BMW announce 50% more range for the i3, the i3 will leap frog the LEAF’s range.

      I can’t comprehend how a company that innovated and got out in front, has stood still after the 2013 model LEAF and not only allowed others to catch up but overtake them. Their efforts to keep up seem half-hearted and their sales are falling.

      They can make retroactive battery upgrades to 2011-15 models if they wanted to, they just don’t want to. Why they don’t want to is a mystery as is letting their lead slip away.

      I can no longer recommend Nissan EV’s

      • Jamset

        Renault-Nissan were first with battery swapping.

        Battery swapping is a great way to counter the high price of a 60kWh battery.

        Plus swapping makes the car lighter.

        • Better place didn’t last very long.

          Another Nissan first which they have not capitalized on.

          As great as battery swapping sounds in theory both Renault/Nissan and Tesla have not been able to make it attractive to consumers.

          It may be an idea before its time.

          • Jamset

            Tesla is less than honest about swapping.

            Tesla batteries are cooled by coolant, so how were they able to do a swap so quickly?

            Mr Shai of Better Place said that swapping was viable in in 2005 or earlier.

            In Taiwan a scooter maker is in favour of battery swapping!

            Power tool batteries get swapped too.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tesla was dishonest about swapping because their batteries are liquid cooled? Somehow I can’t make that leap of logic.

            There’s a video online showing three Teslas having their batteries swapped out in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank at a service station. There’s a Tesla battery swapping station between LA and SF. People use it.

            Please explain this great dishonesty you see to me.

            Yes, Better Place built battery swapping stations some years back. Renault built the cars. Shai apparently screwed things up. It’s not that swapping didn’t work.

          • Jamset

            So what happens to the coolant when Tesla batteries are swapped?

            Say I have a new 60 kWh battery and get it swapped during a road trip. What happens to my battery?

            Better Place had it all worked out. They never sold anyone a new battery, they sold you miles.

            But Shai could not get other car brands to agree to a common battery format.

            They make too much money from selling spare parts.

          • “But Shai could not get other car brands to agree to a common battery format.”

            And there you have it. A good reason battery swapping isn’t commonplace. Until I can go down to Batteries Plus and switch out my battery with a standard format, battery swapping will have a hard time getting traction.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s kind of like arguing that high voltage DC charging won’t work because Tesla Superchargers only work with Teslas.

          • Not sure the analogy holds water.

            A Tesla model S can charge at a CHAdeMO station with the purchase of an adapter. (Electricity is after all just electricity; it will go into any rechargeable battery pack). Good luck making a Model S battery fit a LEAF with an adapter. The different physical dimensions and chemistry preclude interchangeability.

            Musk has made SC open, other vehicles can charge at SC locations if they can meet the technical specs. None do but that’s not Musk deal. With an appropriate adapter another car could.

            Charging a vehicle with electricity is much more fungible than a physical battery.

          • Jamset

            China forced phone makers to agree to a common battery charging plug (micro USB).

            China can force car factories to agree to a common EV battery format for swapping.

          • Mac1177

            That was not China, that was FCC. Idiot.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Funny, I just can’t seem to find the answer to my question.

            Did you forget to include it?

          • eveee

            You could look this up yourself. Quite simply, there are valves that close the coolant lines.

            He also says (in response to a separate question about swapping a liquid cooled battery pack) “a system was designed that allowed the fluid couplings to be disconnected/reconnected without any fluid loss whatsoever.”

            https://www.quora.com/How-mechanically-does-the-Tesla-battery-swap-work

            Its not hard to imagine valves similar to those used for high pressure pneumatics or liquids that close when removed. You can get quick disconnect valves like this for garden hose at any hardware store.

            https://griotsgarage.scene7.com/is/image/GriotsGarage/84022_FAM?$detail$

          • Mike H

            Tesla is doing battery swapping at their station at Harris Ranch on I-5 in California. I don’t know how they handle the coolant issue but presumably the battery packs were designed to retain their coolant and there is a way to flush any air that gets into the coolant system during the swap – doesn’t seem all that difficult to me.

            I talked to a Tesla owner who was swapping at Harris Ranch. There is a fee to battery swap (I think he said $60) and it is quick – about 5 minutes. The basic idea is that you swap batteries on your way between L.A. and S.F. and on the return trip you swap back for your own battery (now fully charged). If you keep the swapped in battery for more than a certain time there is a fee to ship your battery to your local Tesla service center and re-install it. This avoids the used battery and warranty issues that caused Better Place to go to the leased battery financial model.

            I have heard via anecdote that not many people are taking advantage of the battery swap because they can also re-charge via SuperCharger at no cost in about 30 minutes. But if you are in a hurry this is certainly a viable alternative…

          • tibi stibi

            swapping will work best with selve driving cars on rental basis.
            you will have a company owning 1000 cars renting them out. and they will have 1200 batteries or so. in this way they will always have fully charged batteries ready to go. cars which go empty will (after dropping of their customer) swap so they can immediately drive a new customer to his destination.

      • nordlyst

        You’re the enigma. 🙂

        Range is UNCHANGED for the 2016 BMW i3, not up 50%. VW has announced 30% range increases for the e-Up and e-Golf, but not until the 2017 models.

        There is one outlier so far, and happily at the other end of the scale: 2017 Bolt gets 60kWh and ships in Q4 this year!

        Nissan is tight-lipped about the next-gen Leaf. For reasons that remain unclear to me many now seem to expect it to arrive in 2018, although the same people used to write that it would see the light of day one year earlier. I have nothing but the rumours and speculations of other people to go on here, so I can’t say.

        You very interestingly claim to know that Nissan can make retroactive battery upgrades to 2011-2015 models. I would love to know more. What would this need to cost in order for Nissan to break even? And how many percent of Leaf owners are you then assuming buy the upgrade?

        Personally I am still hopeful the next-gen Leaf might arrive next year. The Bolt seems to make it necessary – unless not making any EVs for one year is an acceptable option. But as long as we don’t know what’s actually waiting in the wings or when it will arrive, it’s a bit silly to pronounce Nissan as “behind” just because one newer car has been announced that will be sold in the future and is much better than the Leaf.

        One point of partial agreement: I wouldn’t recommend buying a new Leaf, either. But I wouldn’t recommend buying ANY of the current crop of cars, precisely because you can get nearly three times the capacity at a similar price in nine to ten months. So what buyers now should do is get the cheapest used car they can find, thereby minimizing the pain that comes with the very steep depreciation associated with rapidly improving products.

        • I picked my words carefully when talking about the BMW i3. What I *didn’t* say was that range *had* increased by 50% but that it was announced it would. When? This summer.

          http://mashable.com/2016/01/19/bmw-i3-120-mile-range/#CBzhs6koHiqL

          Nissan just executed a 30% increase (27% actually). BMW go for a 50% increase. An example of ‘too little’ by Nissan. A practical demonstration of why Nissan have fallen behind despite being first to market.

          You confuse Nissan’s ability to make a retrofit upgrade pack with their willingness to do so. Clearly they can from an engineering perspective. They did it back in 2013 as a test.

          http://cleantechnica.com/2013/10/24/nissan-tests-48-kwh-battery-leaf/

          However as you point out in detail, they don’t want to offer this to existing customers out of financial conservatism. IMHO now is not the time to pull the horns in on their EV investment, it’s time to double down to assure market dominance. Nissan will regret not keeping their initial customer base ecstatic about their product when the next batch of consumers use the existing owners for advice as what to buy. Its their company, their choice. I think it’s a mistake. You are welcome to disagree.

    • Benjamin Nead

      This is classic example of a third party manufacturer stepping in to fill a need when the original manufacturer won’t. It’s been going on for the past hundred years or so, ever since Model T
      owners were given the option to bolt on higher compression cylinder
      heads that Ford themselves wouldn’t be bothered with. Now, it’s happening in the age of the electric car.

      Nissan is in the business to sell new cars, not add improvements onto their older ones. If the original 24kWh battery pack fails, Nissan will provide a replacement under warranty limitations. The chemistry will be improved so it’s less likely to fail again. But if the owner of a 2011 Leaf expects to be able to upgrade to a 30kWh pack, Nissan will say “No, buy a new Leaf.”
      I completely understand that.

      So, thousands of owners of older Leafs who are still happy with their cars but wish they had greater range are now catered to by an aftermarket vendor. Assuming the product is well engineered and integrates smoothly with the car, the only real disadvantage is a hit on the rear cargo space. Not too shabby.

      • I don’t believe this is a manufacturer. It appears they take apart old Nissan Leaf batteries and refurbish and reassemble them to build the added pack.

        • Benjamin Nead

          “Manufacturer” is a relative term. A single workbench in a garage where parts are made and/or assembled can be considered a “manufacturer.” Also . . . I saw nothing in the article or on Hybrid Industries’ web site to indicate that cells are used. I would assume they are buying new.

      • Your analysis is correct on how traditional OEM’s think and operate. Things are changing however and I believe Nissan are missing out on an opportunity.

        An upgraded pack will not be cheap. There is money to be made for both the OEM and the dealer. Dealers typically don’t like EV’s because they stand to make less money servicing them. This is an avenue for making the dealer some money on the replacement part and labor.

        More importantly, sure the car owner can buy a new EV with a larger battery, but there is no guarantee they will buy another Nissan. Customer retention is worth something I’d say. Upgrades keep customers coming back. It’s a new concept for the auto industry, but the cost of EV batteries is enough for the OEM to build an after sales revenue stream.

        • Benjamin Nead

          While I’d like to share your optimism that “things are changing,”
          I don’t think we’re going to witness that anytime soon. Planned obsolescence is now so ingrained into all facets of industry that it probably never be completely eliminated, despite the most fervent efforts to do so by consumers and governments . . .

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

          Automotive traction batteries are and will continue to be “plug and play” commodities, but only to a degree. You’ll be able to get a replacement OEM battery for the Leaf for years to come. But it’s doubtful that Nissan will make their upgraded (greater kWh pack) completely backwards comparable for everything built from 2011 forward.

          Tesla is another example. Despite the fact that they’re supposed to have a very different business model: The first 1000 or so people who bought their very first product, the Roadster, are locked out of the Supercharger network, even though they now have the option to get a new factory battery.

          Computers are yet another prime example. Software upgrades are possible for years to come, but you can only go so far before the hardware simply can’t keep up. RAM and hard disc upgrades can be made on most machines for at least several years after the original purchase. But try to get 1MB of RAM and 2TB of storage space configured onto a Dell or and Apple made 15 years ago.

          No company is going to keep their earlier products continuously and comprehensively upgradeable forever.
          Their primary mission is to make their newer stuff better, more desirable than the old one and convince the consumer to buy a new one when their old one starts showing age or becomes less than fashionable.

          In the mean time, third party companies will bring products to the market that will fill the gap in certain instances. I’ve predicted for years that something like the extender battery pack for the Leaf shown in the article would someday appear. There will also invariably be a third party drop-in replacement for the main traction battery in the Leaf (ie: not just a trunk extender pack) that will fit earlier Leafs and will have better batteries inside than what the factory is willing to offer.

          • I would agree that the OEM’s will resist changes as fervently as they can which will drag things out. Eventually they will either change or cease to exist. It’s their choice.

            Agreed that no manufacturer will make batteries for old models, say 15 years old as in your computer example. However the situation today is the opposite. The 2016 S model LEAF has a 24kWh battery. The 30 kWh battery in the 2016 SV/SL models cannot be retrofitted to the 2016 LEAF S model and probably never will be possible. Not supporting really old models is one thing, not supporting current models is very much old school, some enlightened car manufacturers will offer upgrades.

            EV’s will cause the industry to have to reinvent itself.

          • nordlyst

            You are speaking a lot of sense. However,

            > Planned obsolescence is now so ingrained into all facets of industry that it will probably never be completely eliminated

            is precisely the OPPOSITE of what actually HAS TO happen in the longer run. And not as long a run as you might think.

            Our inability to comprehend exponential growth, especially in the long term, has lead us very far astray. But nothing physical can continue to grow indefinitely. And if you do the math, it turns out it doesn’t take millenia before we run into hard, undeniable limits. One interesting example imagines that each person has a one cubic metre stash of stuff (about 1000 cubic feet for you imperialists) today and that stuff grows by 3.2% per year (world bank’s long term economic growth estimate). With some wildly optimistic assumptions, how long could this go on?

            Assumptions:
            – absolutely all of the planet’s volume (not merely the surface) can be converted into stuff
            – one cubic metre of inputs becomes one cubic metre of useful outputs

            Unfortunately this experiment would end with the planet converted entirely into stuff in less than a millenium.

            If you think recycling helps, consider this: At 3.2% yearly growth, it takes 75 years to grow tenfold. Hence if we can recycle 90% of all material, turning 90% of trash into useful stuff again, it only buys us 75 more years. By the same math, finding 9 more planets of the same size and turning all of them into stuff would also take just 75 years if growth were to continue at 3.2%.

            Growth is itself the problem. For anything physical, it ought to be quite obvious that growth is in fact the opposite of sustainability.

            In the long run what will probably happen is that durability and repairing and upgrading moves front and centre. Consumers will enjoy 100 year warranties by law, and a big part of the economy will be mending broken stuff and upgrading existing things.

            Of course, as long as we just leave it to the market and do nothing to modify what is profitable to do, obsolecense will indeed be a feature by design.

          • Benjamin Nead

            Planned obsolescence isn’t something I embrace or endorse. But it’s something I recognize as a reality that’s going to be very hard to move away from. Beyond unnecessary annual fashion-based upgrading promoted by both the industry and automotive journalism cabal, I think of the increasing complexity of modern cars as being one of the big problems. In EVs we move away from ICE engines with many moving parts. That’s good. But we also move towards greater embedded electronic sophistication and complexity. Newer cars are safer. Also good news. But that’s largely because of more plastics (harder and perhaps impossible to recycle properly) in the interior and integration with such modern marvels as automatically deploy-able air bags.

            Have you ever voluntarily driven a decades-old car on the streets for daily transportation? I have. It was fun to own my ’51 Chevy from 1986 to 1995 and I have fond memories of the experience. Unfortunately, that car didn’t have emission controls and it would have been impossible to retrofit the engine to be clean (the design of the venerable 216 cu. in. “Stovebolt Six” dates to the mid 1930s.) Yes, a more modern engine could have been installed. But enough had changed with things like transmissions and differentials that such a project would be far more complex than simply bolting newer cast iron into place.

            Likewise, retrofitting an old car like that to meet – or even aspire too – modern safety standards would be next to impossible. Things like controlled crush zones and padded interiors with airbags weren’t even thought of when the ’51 was built. I was resigned to the fact that the ’51 was going to be a deathtrap if I ever was involved in an accident.
            So, I drove it with care. But it became an increasingly less practical option when the realities of transporting my newborn son in safely came online.

            The other long term automotive ownership experience I lived through was my ’95 Saturn, which was my daily driver for almost 2 decades until 2014. The problems here were different, yet similar. Plastic interior panels eventually decayed because of years of UV exposure and the foam gasket material between the panels went first. The engine ran fine right up until the day I sold it, but – here again – both emissions and occupant safety standards had evolved during the lifespan of the vehicle. Even if I would have considered retrofitting all the little things that had made the 19 year old interior like new, there were so many underlying mechanical/electrical things that I knew were invariably going to be problematic, that it would have been foolish to pursue.

            100 year auto warranties? I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. I wish I had a good answer for you in regards to
            the waste our planet is collectively accumulating, but I can only hope that it will be addressed with plastics that are easier to recycle and at least a bit more accommodation in regards to OEMs not simply changing bolt patterns and-or electrical connections because they want to. But some of the latter is going to be dictated by honest engineering improvements that are going to be impossible to predict.

    • Robert Pollock

      The ‘old’ battery is worth almost as much per Amp or kwh as the new one. That is a whole new industry, we’re all waiting for our Tesla Powerwalls. My house uses daily about the same as my Chevy Spark battery holds, 21kw. Maybe Nissan isn’t prepared to enter that market.

      • nordlyst

        > The ‘old’ battery is worth almost as much per Amp or kwh as the new one.

        To who? Clearly not to YOU.

        It’s true that for a utility, cost per kWh matters most. But most of the value of the new pack comes from the fact that it gives a range boost to cars that really need it. In other words, most of the value is lost the moment you decide to employ the battery for something other than propelling the car.

        When used to store power for grid delivery, location and size matters a lot less. So you have to be competitive with wildly different approaches. Here’s one example: Build a water reservoir up on a hill, 300 feet above sea level. To store electricity, use it to pump ground water up into the reservoir. To “discharge”, use the force of gravity and tumbling water to drive turbines.

        This is very inefficient, but it’d be very interesting to see some calculations of resulting capacity, price per kWh (exploitable) to establish the storage facility, energy density and power handling characteristics. I’ve never seen even a back-of-envelope sort of analysis of this, though surely many must have done it (and probably found it unpromising, or else we’d have heard of it).

        Anyway, my point is simply that the value per kWh might be proportional to the pack size, but I don’t think the battery is nearly as much worth to a utility as it is to a Leaf owner. And that would explain why only exhausted batteries that have much reduced capacity are worth replacing.

        • smslaw

          Pumped storage power has been around for decades and is still being used all over the world. Cheap off-peak power pumps the water uphill and it flows through generators back down when peak power is needed. There is a net loss of power, of course, but the $$ numbers work. Pump with 2 cent power and sell it for 10 cents.

    • nordlyst

      I don’t think there’s any need to invoke mysterious explanations – the straightforward one seems entirely plausible to me: they can make it turn a profit, or even break even.

      First the obivous: Pretty much all Leaf owners would want to do this if it was cheap. But it’s not at all clear how cheap it would need to be before any significant portion of the cars would be getting the upgrade.

      For me, the 30kWh pack isn’t enough of an upgrade to be worth paying a considerable part of the total car price to get. It’s a 25% improvement of only one aspect of the car (handling, comfort, space, performance all stay the same), and as such it seems only reasonable to say it cannot be worth more than 25% of the cost of the entire car. With pre-2013 LEAFs routinely fetching only $10k in the market, that rather severely constains the cost. And that cost needs to cover not just the manufacturing and distribution of the parts, but also the installation.

      By these rules Nissan would need to be able to replace the pack for the price of my old pack plus $2500 dollars. I’m not even sure I would do it at that price – I might prefer to wait and hope they’ll offer a 40 or 50 kWh pack in a couple of years.

      I would not put my money in a Leaf battery replacement business. Therefore I cannot complain that noone else is.

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