Exclusive: Nissan Considers Multiple Battery Size Options for LEAF Electric Cars

By · November 21, 2013

2013 Nissan LEAF

The Nissan LEAF has room for bigger battery packs to boost range, according to the company.

A common complaint about the all-electric Nissan LEAF has been its short range, officially 75 miles on a full charge according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To address that challenge, Nissan could add options for consumers to purchase bigger battery packs to boost the LEAF’s all-electric range, Pierre Loing, vice president of product and advanced planning and strategy told PluginCars.com. “The packaging easiness (of the battery) makes it easier to put more batteries in the car, and you will see this,” Loing said during an interview this week at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Loing wouldn’t give more details, but he pointed out that Tesla offers multiple battery options for its Model S, allowing a buyer to get more battery and thus more range for more money. “Maybe you will see the same from Nissan,” said Loing.

Consider that the current LEAF, offered with an attractive $199 lease, provides a 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack providing about 80 miles in real-world driving. It’s not inconceivable, if the car has enough room, to imagine an option for consumers to double down—with a lease or purchase at double the price for a LEAF with a battery providing range in the territory of 150 to 160 miles.

Nissan uses slim laminated lithium-ion batteries in the LEAF. The batteries are produced at the Automotive Industry Supply Corp., a joint venture in Japan between Nissan and NEC. In December 2012, Nissan also began producing batteries in Smyrna, Tenn.

Although Loing said that the battery was a competitive advantage for Nissan, the automaker has reportedly recently tweaked the battery chemistry to address complaints by LEAF drivers in Phoenix, Ariz. that their battery range was depleted too much in an extremely hot environment. As for bigger changes that extend the range, however, Loing told PluginCars.com, “This is chemistry, so improvement is slow.”

The same slim laminated lithium-ion battery will be used in the next generation of LEAF, which will be launched “in due time,” said Loing. “We still believe lithium-ion laminated is the best technology.”

That is where adding an additional battery to some versions of the LEAF could enter the picture, said Loing. “After all, there are different sized engines offered” on gas-powered internal combustion models, he said.

Comments

· · 47 weeks ago

So Nissan produced a very subpar product told us it would get 100 miles on a charge (it didn't) upgraded the batteries to a whopping 75 miles had to reduce lease price to up production and also has a batteries lease program for $100.00 a month. Now is going to double the miles for double the price, that's $398 lease and $52,000.00? Keep them i'll find another car and you can be sure its not going to say Nissan.

· · 47 weeks ago

"the automaker has reportedly recently tweaked the battery chemistry to address complaints by LEAF drivers in Phoenix"

Nissan has said that they are working on a battery for release some time in 2014 which is more tolerate to heat, but they are not shipping this battery to customers yet as far as I am aware. Would love to know otherwise!

· · 47 weeks ago

Yup in the mean time Nissan is going to sell all the 80miles range version leaf, and then you can all spend more money on the new upgraded version leaf later 2014!

· · 47 weeks ago

"It’s not inconceivable, if the car has enough room, to imagine an option for consumers to double down—with a lease or purchase at double the price for a LEAF with a battery providing range in the territory of 150 to 160 miles."

Where does this "double down" theory come from, Alysha? Is this something Nissan said or implied, or are you just speaking from the hip? It doesn't make any sense that 2x the battery is 2x the price. The battery is definitely not 100% of the cost of the Leaf. I guarantee you that.

I've long believed that Nissan should offer multiple range options. Honestly, my two-car household has use for both a 75-mile and a 200-mile range car. They don't both have to be 200 miles - my current Leaf suits me quite well for about 50% of my miles.

· · 47 weeks ago

An actual test by NON-Nissan drivers tested a Leaf on a closed track and got 132 miles from a single charge. The variable range is based on a wide list of variables. I've had my Leaf for 18 months now, and I'm delighted with the results. Difference in driving between winter and summer is substantial (about 15%), but well within my needs. Once they have a real world 150, I'll give up my gasoline car all together. 150 gets me back to my old stomping grounds and back on a single charge in the worst of conditions. For now, the 60 miles each way makes it more than a little difficult.

· · 47 weeks ago

Alysha,

Any word from them on the 2014 yet? Or is it already set in stone that 2014 will have the same performance specs as the 2013?

btw, the EPA range of 75 miles is not for 100% charge, but for 90% charge - an average of the "performance" type 100% charge settings and the "recommended" routine setting of 80% to prolong battery life. The 100% charge range according to the EPA (which is, in my experience with the 2012, very reliable) is 84 miles. Still not quite 3-digit...

Looking forward, I think there will be a sweet spot between price, consumer needs, and environmental impact, around the 120-150 mile (EPA) range BEV. The vast majority of people would seldom need more than that, especially if sufficient QC infrastructure exists in their region, to cover most of their longer trips.

Of course since Tesla has already set a precedent, there will be Tesla and probably other makers offering longer ranges, but it should be profitable and increasingly cost-effective to continue offering a 120-150 mile BEV even as battery capacities increase well beyond that.

· · 47 weeks ago

If Nissan actually offers it with decent price, it would certainly earn few notches on the respect scale from me.

· · 47 weeks ago

I think this is a natural way ahead for the next generation. My 20,000 LEAF miles have been the most pleasant I've ever driven, but I'd gladly pay more for an extra 25% range and pretty much put my van out of business! Release one with 25% less range and at an even cheaper rate and the wife will snatch one up for her commute.
I wonder also about adding different models on the same platform? Make my longer-range version available in a mazda-5 minivan size, and make the wife's version a more sporty-looking 2-door coupe. I can't see it would be that hard given how solid and successful the current platform is.

· · 47 weeks ago

While this *sounds* like good news, it's speculative at best. I'll wait until Nissan releases actual specifications for the 2014 (or whichever model year they actually decide to do this) before I start celebrating.

· · 47 weeks ago

Without a radical improvement in battery chemistry, which the Nissan guy said is not going to happen anytime soon, doubling the battery capacity is unrealistic, as there is no where to put it.

Increasing the 24kwh pack to something like 30kwh is much more doable, and the Zoe was originally rumoured to have that size pack.

· · 47 weeks ago

Bumping everyone up to 30kWh would be great. That would yield an EPA range of 105mi by straight extrapolation. Even with some added weight, it should still clear 100 miles. In the current market, that is a major milestone.

A really bold thing would be to offer 20kWh at a significant discount to the current model, along with the 30kWh model. However, the take rate for the 20 would probably be so low as to not be worthwhile. Then again, at the right price, anything will sell.

· · 47 weeks ago

Wow, Nissan is finally getting it. Offering a 30-32 KWh battery option is one of the easiest ways to sell more LEAFs and increase margins. I hope they do this soon, instead of just talking about it. It doesn't sound like they are committed yet. But, they could just be protecting existing sales, since many buyers would wait for the new model.

· · 47 weeks ago

Did you guys read the same article I did, it said double the batteries double the price. I didnt see anything about reduced price but i'll read it again.

· · 47 weeks ago

"an option for consumers to double down—with a lease or purchase at double the price for a LEAF with a battery providing range in the territory of 150 to 160 miles."

This part of the story appears to be pure speculation on the part of the reporter. As commented above, doubling the battery should not double the purchase price of the whole car, but it could double the lease payment due to how those things work.

Even following the Tesla model: +20kWh = +$10,000, Nissan could add 10kWh for $5,000. I think half of the potential Leaf buyers would take that option.

· · 47 weeks ago

@Bret, at least in the US the main barrier for Nissan selling more Leafs is Nissan's own production capacity. Their nationwide average inventory is barely a month deep, and it's been that way since the 2013's rolled out in March. Demand is doing just fine. It's the supply that's limited.

I agree that a bona fide EPA 3-digit range should increase demand even further... but if I was Nissan I'd make sure I have the capacity to produce them too...

@jah (1st commenter), it's a far cry between sales pitches that are often too ambitious, and a "very subpar product" as you describe the Leaf.

If you call the Leaf that, you've probably never really used one. By now there's consensus at least among reality-based drivers and observers, that as a pioneering product the Leaf is an impressive feat and an astounding success.

And demand keeps increasing. Not exactly the typical demand curve of a "very subpar product" entering its 4th year on the market.

· · 47 weeks ago

@Assaf, I was aware of the production limitations and the supply at 20 days. Nissan really needed to add capacity months ago. The sales could go way up and not just here in California. I would bet Nissan could easily sell 5,000 LEAFs per month by the end of 2014, if they had a bigger battery option and the production capacity. They claim to make money on every LEAF sold, so why are they dragging their feet?

· · 47 weeks ago

An EV with typical aerodynamic drag, like the Leaf *could* have a lot longer range with the battery it already has. The single largest load on the drivetrain comes from the aero drag of the car moving through the air.

At 30MPH, the air drag load is about 1/2 of the load, and there are examples of EV's that consume 150-160Wh/mile at 55-60MPH. If the Leaf could achieve that lower level of drag, it would have a range of 130+ miles. With the same 24kWh battery pack it already has.

· · 47 weeks ago

@Assaf. Nissan "doesn't talk about future product" so no details on the 2014 LEAF. But I would think that is too early for this kind of change.

· · 47 weeks ago

Not only that but if they can also offer a variety in range extender power it would be even better. Today there is choice between a battery of 24 KWh or 24 KWh and a range extender of 0 KW or 0 KW. There got to be place for more choice. Something like choice between a battery of 24 KWh or 40 KWh and a range extender of 20 KW or 0 KW.

· · 47 weeks ago

I always thought Nissan should not have dropped the LEAF price, but should have added $6000 worth of batteries in the 2013 model.

$6000 could easily add 12KWHr battery, which means a practical range of around 150 miles.

· · 47 weeks ago

Agree with some of the comments.
a bigger battery option is definitely a big plus. They should do at least 'DOUBLE', anything less is just a window dressing.
And assumption is the lease price shouldn't' be double, since car has other components too besides the battery.
if i could get a 48 Kwh battery back Leaf for a $299 p.m, option, i will jump on it, returning my FIT EV.

· · 47 weeks ago

@Alysha, thanks. I had a feeling they are keeping 2014 info very guarded. Could go either.

@Bret, I don't think Nissan are dragging their feet. I think they are having real issues trying to increase the volume. It is - still - a new type of product line, and all ducks need to be in order. Lots of them :) Plus, I have the feeling that the US plant is still not up to snuff with the volume/quality of the Japanese original. Non-unionized, less-skilled labor and all that.

@Neil, the Leaf is definitely not aerodynamic enough. But I don't think you could double the range just with the form change.

· · 47 weeks ago

Do it, Nissan. There are undoubtedly some EV customers that need more range than most current EVs offer but cannot afford the Tesla.

· · 47 weeks ago

More range would be much appreciated, and will be essential to moving the LEAF forward, IMHO. However, while it's great that Nissan has been funding some quick chargers at dealerships, we're also going to need quick chargers along interstates in less populated areas, to enable inter-city travel. A LEAF with a 150 mile range might not be great for a long road trip, but driving a couple hundred miles between cities would be easy with the right infrastructure. I'm drawn to Tesla not just for their vehicles, but also for the well-considered Supercharger infrastructure.

· · 46 weeks ago

The current Nissan Leaf gets an 84 MPH range on a full charge, per the EPA. Tesla's discontinued 40 KWH battery was supposed to get 150 to 160 miles range per Tesla, on a Tesla car weighing at least 1000 pounds more. Tesla probably won't sell the 40 kwh battery to Nissan, as Tesla probably would lose customers to Nissan if that happened. I am not an automotive engineer. However, the simplest answer would be to buy the 40kwh battery from Tesla, if technically possible, increasing the battery from current 24 kwh to 40 kwh, doubling the current driving range, if they could limit the price increase to another $10,000 or $20,000 more. If Tesla won't sell the 40 kwh battery to Nissan, Nissan would have to build the battery them selves or obtain such a battery from their own battery suppliers.

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