EVs Enhanced, a company in Christchurch, New Zealand, will introduce its 16 Blade battery, a complete replacement platform for the Nissan Leaf, beginning in March of 2023. The company says it wants to take early electric cars like the Leaf and make them better. The Leaf was a groundbreaking car when it was new, but the battery was always it weakest link, primarily because Nissan decided not to use liquid cooling. Air cooling works pretty OK most of the time, but not so well in very hot locations and hardly at all during fast charging.
The 16 Blade battery uses an active thermal management system and has been designed to fit within the confines of the original Nissan battery pack enclosure. The company says its mission is “to develop and offer upgrades that enable existing electric vehicles to remain usable, relevant, and desirable as they age. By applying current technology, it is possible to make these vehicles significantly better, faster, and with longer range than when they were new.”
“The intention is to extend the usable lifetime of these vehicles as much as possible, firstly for the early adopters that originally purchased these vehicles and then for the following owners as they are ready to embrace this superior technology. We love electric vehicles and consider any steps towards promoting their adoption to be a worthy cause,” EVs Enhanced says. Amen to that.
The 16 Blade battery will be made available for all 24, 30, and 40 kWh Leaf models from 2011 through to the latest 2022 models. Upgrades for Leafs originally fitted with a 62 kWh battery are not being pursued due to physical mounting differences. The first model to receive 16 Blade support will be the 2013 onward 24 and 30 kWh Leafs, shortly followed by the 40kWh Leaf. Support for the original 2011-2012 model Leaf is planned to follow.
The 16 Blade battery upgrade will not work for the e-NV200 electric vans, however, the company says it is working on a solution that will allow owners of those vehicles to update their vehicles as well.
Range & Charging With The 16 Blade Battery
The 16 Blade battery will have three planned variants named RED, BLUE, and GREEN. These represent different cells with different chemistries and characteristics, but within the same sixteen module form factor. The initial focus is on the GREEN variant using long lifespan LFP chemistry and a capacity of approximately 40kWh. The BLUE variant focuses on maximum range with over 70kWh. The RED variant is for high performance applications (a Spec LEAF racing series, perhaps?) and will be produced in low quantities.
Thanks to its active thermal management system, the 16 Blade battery can achieve consistent DC fast charge rates even when multiple fast charges are needed in a single day, such as on a long road trip. The GREEN, BLUE, and RED variants all have different maximum charge rates, but the GREEN variant will be limited to a fast charge current of 125 A, just like the stock battery. Because of the cooling system, this peak current can be held up to 80% SOC. The charging time is reduced compared to a stock 40 kWh Leaf battery, which tapers quickly above 50% SOC.
The 16 Blade GREEN has a target single charge range of 270 km WLTP, which is nearly identical to the original battery. It uses the original battery enclosure from Nissan, which allows it to bolt right in, although there are some minor modifications required in the motor bay to accommodate the thermal management system.
The company points out that the LEAF has always been capable of V2G operation due to its use of the CHAdeMO charging standard. However, frequent use of that capability had a negative effect on battery life. “16 Blade GREEN with its long lifespan LFP chemistry means that V2G applications will be a very practical option for Leafs fitted with this battery solution.”
How Much Will All This Cost?
Naturally, the first question most people will have is, how much will the 16 Blade battery from EVs Enhanced cost? The company says, “Our target sale price for 16 Blade Green has been and continues to be approximately a third of the cost of a new 40 kWh Leaf before any government incentives. That excludes the trade-in price that you will be offered for your original battery pack.”
“While global inflation is continuing to work against us all, our decision not to announce a fixed price earlier this year has turned out to be the right one. We’re sticking with that idea for a little longer until we start accepting orders. However, nobody should be under any illusion that a finished 16 Blade Green pack will undercut the retail price of US$11,225 that Nissan USA charges for a new but inferior 40 kWh battery. Our focus from the outset has been on making a superior product with a better design leading to improved performance and a longer life-cycle.” In other words, you get what you pay for.
EVs Enhanced will also offer trade-ins for the original battery, which should help lower the price of the replacement. “The trade-in price offered will depend on the condition of your original pack, but taking this option will reduce your final cost of an upgrade. Because we reuse the original battery enclosure when creating a new 16 Blade pack, there will be no option to buy 16 Blade without trading in a pack in exchange. However, there will be options to keep your original modules/cells and have them repackaged into a more convenient form for stationary storage applications.” These guys have thought of everything.
The 16 Blade GREEN battery is covered by a 160,000 km or 3-year manufacturer’s warranty with an option to extend that to 8 years with a policy underwritten by an international insurer. The company suggests customers should adjust the stated value of their vehicle with their insurance company following the completion of the upgrade.
The 16 Blade Nissan Leaf battery will be available first in New Zealand, with Australia being next in line. “We’re planning for Australia to be our test case for supplying 16 Blade Green in kit-set form where the finished battery packs will be assembled there by a team that we’ve trained to build the product to the high standards that we expect.”
“Because we re-use the original battery enclosure when creating a new 16 Blade pack, it is most efficient to have the pack enclosure modifications and assembly completed relatively close to where the end customers are. The original battery modules can then be re-purposed but stay in the country they are already in. Otherwise you end up shipping a lot of donor battery enclosures back and forth around the world which is unnecessary and avoidable.
“Once production is underway at full steam, we’re planning to focus our efforts on providing completed packs for our local New Zealand market and providing kits to help international partners produce the product for their local market. Therefore, the availability of 16 Blade in your country will depend on us reaching sufficient production volumes to meet demand as well as regulations in your country, but also on a company [that is properly trained] close to you.”
We have to applaud the dedication of EVs Enhanced to design and build a better battery for the Nissan Leaf. Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door, according to an old adage. We wonder if that wisdom applies to better batteries?
A tip of the CleanTechnica hat to Dan Allard, who first brought this story to our attention.