If Nissan EVs Falter, What Company Will Champion Electric Cars?

By · November 16, 2012

Carlos Ghosn and the Nissan LEAF

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive at Nissan-Renault, has been the auto industry's boldest advocate for pure electric cars.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has finally admitted what EV sales numbers have been clearly indicating since January, and what even the most casual observer of the electric car market could clearly see: Nissan will not meet its 2012 sales target for the all-electric LEAF.

So far this year, Nissan has sold 6,791 LEAFs, down 15.6 percent from this time a year ago. The company had predicted that sales would double this year.

With each passing week over the past few months, as Ghosn continued to deny the obvious, the company’s credibility as the leader in EVs was being eroded. In fact, just a few days ago, he refused to step back from the larger goal of Nissan-Renault cumulatively selling 1.5 million EVs by 2015. He instead suggested to Automotive News that electric car sales from Renault, including the Zoe model to be introduced next year, could help reach sales targets.

“On top of this, we're opening a lot of doors for the LEAF,” Ghosn said. “We're becoming more competitive with the LEAF and putting our act together.”

The key question now for the EV movement in the United States is if Nissan will indeed get its act together—and what other major carmaker (if any) will take over the electric car leadership role that could be left vacant by Nissan as it turns to other markets. The 2013 LEAF will be improved; the first Infiniti EV will go on sale next year; and battery production (even without a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony) will begin by the end of this year. But when asked if Nissan has overinvested in EVs, Ghosn replied, “We're following carefully what's going on in China. We're following very carefully the new incentives that are in France to encourage electric cars.”

He added, “No matter what, the United States is going to have to embrace electric cars in a way that is more sustainable,” but did not elaborate further. There's little evidence to suggest that American car buyers will make a sudden turn toward EVs. Rather, it appears that conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrids will make up the lion's share of the market for battery-powered cars.

This week, General Motors—perhaps sensing an opportunity—said that its electrification strategy “will center on the plug.” This most likely means extended-range electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt, rather than pure electric cars. Also this week, Ford held a media event to introduced the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. Ford expects about 70 percent of its electrified vehicles to be conventional hybrids; 20 to 25 percent to be plug-in hybrids; and only 5 to 10 percent to be all-electric battery electric cars. Toyota and Honda, in all likelihood, will continue to emphasize hybrids and plug-in hybrids, rather than pure electric cars. Tesla is winning awards for the Model S, but ramping up production will take years. Volkswagen? Daimler? BMW?

For the past few years, Nissan has been the industry's number one champion for electric vehicles, giving hope that EVs will make dramatic gains in the market. Now, with Nissan finally acknowledging coming up short on its bold sales projections, it’s uncertain if it will continue to play that role—and if not, how the EV movement will fare without a bold voice calling for mass adoption of electric cars.

Comments

· hybrid driver (not verified) · 1 year ago

If you are in Seattle Ford have the C-max Energi and Electric Focus available to drive at Safeco Field baseball stadium opposite the Seattle Auto Show today and Saturday. I drove the C-max Energi inside the stadium last night and was impressed with the way it felt, though it was a very limited test where I didn't exceed around 20mph.

· · 1 year ago

If Nissan falters, we will probably have to rely on Tesla to continue to push EVs as long as they can. GM and Ford seem committed enough to PHEVs/EREVs for now. Those aren't bad options, and will introduce many new people to the joys of EVs. But there's no doubt that the movement's momentum would be in jeopardy if Nissan backs down.

The good news is that a single year of poor sales doesn't seem to be stopping Nissan from pushing on.

· · 1 year ago

The key question now for the EV movement in the United States is what other major carmaker (if any) will take over the electric car leadership role that could be left vacant by Nissan as it turns to other markets.

Wow that statement above was as though Nissan has given up. Yea we are going to pack our bags and run. All I can say is wrong. There is a lot of excitement here over building the new FY13 Leaf. I was looking at one today. Smyrna and Nissan has not thrown in the towel.

· · 1 year ago

Slow sales does not equal *no* sales. There is a market for the Leaf. They need to just keep working on finding ways to reach those people. The Leaf sells pretty well compared to some other cars, so maybe Nissan needs to find a way to utilize the Leaf platform for an additional vehicle. It is tough when you have built a couple whole plants dedicated to one single vehicle because then if it has slumps in sales it hurts really bad.

This is where Ford is improving with their flexible assembly lines, hopefully able to keep the plants running even if one model has a slump in sales.

Toyota now has a whole family of Prius vehicles, and their hybrid powertrain is used in a couple other Toyota vehicles as well.

Nissan needs to find ways to incorporate some of the Leaf stuff into other Nissan products. How about using the excess battery production capacity in Nissan traditional hybrids or build a new PHEVs. How about a small SUV on the Leaf platform (similar to the RAV4 EV)?

How about car sharing? ZipCar vehicles have dedicated spots. Put in a charger at that spot and use a Leaf as a zip-car. Also - they really should be pushing fleet sales. Universities and Local governments could really use Leafs.

All in all, I think they are not failing - but they do need to find more ways to capitalize on their money they have sunk into R&D and production...

· Bret (not verified) · 1 year ago

I am proud of Nissan, Ghosn and the LEAF. It took a huge amount of courage to invest $5B in the future, while other companies were waiting for a market to develop. They have already fixed some of the conditions affecting their slow sales, such as the cheap Volt leases and the AZ battery problem. If they improve the cost and range of the 2013 LEAF, it should sell pretty well.

It's no longer a question of IF EV sales will take off, it's a matter of WHEN. Right now, the cost and range don't add up for a lot of people. For most Americans, it makes more sense to buy an ICE vehicle, a hybrid or an EREV. When the cost and range improve sginificantly, EVs will become much more attractive to a wider audience. It will happen sooner than most people expect.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

If you look at how Nissan has been treating it's customers (see mynissanleaf.com) you can understand the REAL problem with the Leaf. I have one - love the car, detest how Nissan Corp. treats me.

· · 1 year ago

@Red Leaf

Hi, please give us a synopsis of the changes from 2011 to 2013, I wasn't aware the website was updated nor cars available at the dealerships here.

@Anonymous

They should fire that arrogant meelymouthe British Vice President who talks all day but says nothing, hoping that continuing to do that people who object will fade away or fall asleep. They'd probably double their car sales if they treated people better. As I've mentioned a few times if I was VP i'd EAT the cost of replacing Tucson Nissan's batteries as soon as the range trouble started showing up, and light a fire under engineering's can (firing where necessary), to show I MEAN BUSINESS about putting a decent battery into my cars and taking care of my current and future customers legitimate concerns.

· JP White (not verified) · 1 year ago

@Red LEAF.

Where did you see the 2013 Leaf? I too am interested in this upcoming model and the promised improvements to heater and charging system.

I also echo red leaf's put down of the articles assumption that Nissan have all but abandoned the US market. If Nissan become more competitive as Goshen promises we should see a resurgence of sales. Time will tell.

· Bubba Nicholson (not verified) · 1 year ago

Musk's Tesla has proven that electric cars are not only viable, but exceptional. The Leaf is a "too cheap" size for the market of luxury vehicles to which Tesla's S is optimized and destined. Adding the limited range necessary for pricing the Leaf, the concoction becomes unbearable: Small ugly car, short range, new technology, busted.

Nissan would do better following the lead of the Tesla. Build the car first, finish it to price, market it to hilt.
Perhaps the first order of business is to build the best possible electric car. None of the current crop are aerodynamical. The Leaf specific components could easily become a much larger and much more aerodynamic vehicle capable of carrying sufficient charge to allow fast efficient transportation. Anybody could review the history of electric cars early in the twentieth century and come to the conclusion that size matters. Unless Nissan has found a way to make the Leaf much lighter and more efficient, the size of the beast must grow. Let's hope it grows up into a better car rather than just a more expensive one.

Florida has a car manufacturer bigger than Tesla. That's right, no one ever heard of it.

· Lad (not verified) · 1 year ago

Nissan has no problems that a better battery wouldn't fix. And, you can bet they are working on exactly that problem for the future.

Ever wonder why some car companies always says "No" before "Maybe," or "Yes?" And, when they finally say "Yes," why it takes so damn long for them to move? It's because their policies are based on working with individuals and setting a precedence of doing free work for one person, work not covered by an agreement, could lead to an implied agreement to do the same work for all.

If Nissan has flawed batteries, not saying they do, they stand to lose a very large investment if they must fix all Leaf batteries. They would rather settle each complaint one on one.

Did you ever think that perhaps Nissan's 2012 Leaf sales are down because they are not pushing them in hopes of selling 2013s because of their upgraded batteries?...just wondering while I'm wandering.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

Appreciation to Nissan and its Chief for boldly stepping into EV. Still there is hope.
They can sell a basic version for lesser price and that will sell in higher price.

Tesla Model S is selling well and that's a big hope for EVs. Meanwhile GM is launching Chevy Spark EV, this should be priced more affordably since its a smaller car.

As people start buying this car, some may go for Leaf since its bigger. Lets wait and see. After all 42,000 + Leafs were sold and no other EV has sold this much.

· · 1 year ago

Nissan and the Leaf are just fine. It will all come around and the Leaf will start selling well again. It is a fine car.

· iletric (not verified) · 1 year ago

It's an enormous privilege to drive this car. 30,000 gas-free miles so far. Ain't nothing like it. (And no oil changes!)
Keep 'em coming.

· · 1 year ago

I think Tesla has re-taken the lead in terms of generating excitement for EVs. The LEAF, however, benefits from this since far more car buyers can afford a LEAF than a Model S. I'm happy to have 25K miles on my LEAF.

· Sac D (not verified) · 1 year ago

Imagine how many more LEAFs would have already been sold if it didn't look like a goofy turtle. Why do automakers always feel the need to ug EVs up? With fender skirts, truncated parts, uneven axle lengths, etc. Are they purposely trying to make people dislike these cars? Make mine a sports car or pickup trunk, but not a toaster.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

a bigger battery and some Level 3 chargers would do a lot

· GaryL (not verified) · 1 year ago

So the forecast was optimistic, who cares? What counts is that Nissan has sold over 40K LEAFs worldwide, and it is the best selling EV in history! Nissan has sold more BEVs in its first 2 years than Toyota did with hybrids in their first 2 years. That's the story!

Plus since the launch of the LEAF, it has consistently outsold over a dozen other vehicles in Nissan's US product portfolio.

I think the future for EVs is quite bright and that the market will continue to expand at a reasonable rate as EV technology and economics continue to improve. This is good news especially for EV pundits who can look forward to many more years of steady work creating contrived controversy to fill their columns. :D

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

It seems clearer than ever the huge effort from Big Oil and car manufacturers to keep the combustion engine going by sabotaging EVs as much as possible. From making them "compliance cars" to doing absolutely nothing to promote them, it is a miracle they are selling the way they are. I've had my Rav4 EV for three weeks and I LOVE it! And most folks I know have never heard of 100% electric cars, especially not the Toyota's, they usually tell me "how come they don't advertise it?" The only reason is, because they don't want to sell them. Unfortunately!

· David Martin (not verified) · 1 year ago

The author does not seem to know that Mitsubishi exist, and what is more have sold electric cars in the tens of thousands.
Next year we will have the plug in Mitsubishi Outlander.

· BBHY (not verified) · 1 year ago

The success of EVs depends on the price of gasoline. In my area it is $3.50. That keeps EVs in a small niche. Gas has to be over $4 for EV sales to gain traction. Over $5 would make EVs very popular.

Gas will go up. It is just a matter of timing. Getting the timing right is the hard part. Gas prices can shoot up in a couple months but it takes 4 years to bring an EV to market.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

As a Nissan Leaf owner for over a year, I can say I really love the car. But to be honest, he range itself is somewhat too little. 100 miles at best, but usually less if the a/c is on, and you drive over 40. The range of around 80 miles is the equivalent of having about 3 gallons of fuel in a gas car of that size. It is just too little range wise. And the limited range of 100 miles means that the range meter is volatile since it is based on how you were previously driving. So if the range says you have 45 miles left, and you have been driving 65, and you have more than 45 left is you are in the city and are now driving 40mph, and you have much less miles if you were driving 35 mph and start driving 65 mph. That being said, usually the 100 mile estimated full range is more than sufficient for daily driving. But I admit, I would like to see a 200 mile range, or 150. It would make me feel more comfortable. Having the range drop from 60 miles left to 40 miles after driving only 5 miles (because of driving faster), really makes me feel nervous at times.
In summary, we need a battery that has double the range of the current battery for people to feel comfortable.

· Jace (not verified) · 1 year ago

Too bad the Nissan dealerships around here are hired crazy carsalesmen. I hate going to the dealership. I went to test drive their LEAF, and they didn't know how to drive it. Then, it only had 5 miles of charge left for a test drive.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

Reality sucks, huh? The auto industry is a business, which means companies build products that sell and make money. HELLO-OOO!

EVangelists and many of the writers here at PIC.com have been in denial of the simple truth that affordable pure BEVs are not now ready for prime time, for obvious reasons that I won't bother rehashing. Figure it out on your own....

But not all is lost, Berman's lament notwithstanding. It's not the end of the world should Nissan dump the LEAF and join the plug-in parade with PHEVs and EREVs. It's going to take patience, we're going to get there one day but it's going to be a step-by-step journey through PIPs and Energis and Volts and ELRs until the time comes when technology solves the issues of high price, range limits, long recharging time, and purity that is affordable (Tesla, you listening?) will finally be attained.

· Claus (not verified) · 1 year ago

I think there is too much focus on the technologies and brands. What we need is to get the infrastructure in place. With chargers placed at shopping centers and no more than 20 miles apart on highways the sales of EVs will be much helped and that will float all ships. The cheap EVs like the Spark cost only $15k after tax rebate. A great price for a second car.

· · 1 year ago

I've expressed criticism of Nissan in the past but Nissan is doing a DAMN GOOD job considering the sluggish world economy.

· WillyGDoc2B (not verified) · 1 year ago

The Leaf is a really NICE car. It's just too expensive! Add to that the very limited driving range, and the complete lack of charging stations - this car is obviously made for a niche market.

Now, if it were made for a mass market, it would have a 150 mile electric range, be able to take gasoline in a pinch, and would cost thousands less.... oh wait... that is the Volt!
Come-on guys! Are you all so out of touch that you think the average American (who really can't even afford gas) can afford $35,000 for a car that can't leave town? The only people who would buy this are those with disposable income who want to do something nice for the environment. If you offer a car that costs under $20k, with better range and either a quick-charge option OR the ability to burn fossil fuel - you will have a winner.

Why don't you focus on fuel cell technology? You can install O2 and H tanks all along any major highway, and have your 100% electric car be refeulable in 15 minutes! Think, people, please!

· · 1 year ago

If Nissan continues to offer a $199 per month lease with $1,999 down -- and it should regardless of whether it loses money doing so -- watch those LEAF sales numbers go up, and up, and up. Move it back to the $400 per month leases many of the early LEAF adopters paid with $3,500 down and watch the LEAF sales numbers brick big time -- or should I say sink like a giant green land-bound "turtle" in the water ;-)

· · 1 year ago

@WillyGDoc2B - The Leaf and the VOLT are the same price ~$38k. Play the cards right, take the LEASE with the $7,500 tax incentive and more in specific states (state EV/PHEV/Clean Energy Incentives run by the state) that drops the LEAF down to around $31k for a SL, a few thousands less for the SV. Thank just purchase the car outright at the end of the lease ($17,000 as stated in the lease terms) Either way you look at it, its a good deal, not to mention the lease payment is $199-249 per month...chump change. Nothing like that for any other EV. So your comparison is wrong. Now the VOLT may be my next car, I like the larger trunk space for my dogs and the extra expanded range, but as a growing family a 4 seater is not ideal. The Prius Plug-In or C-Max Energi will be on the list.

I keep a gas guzzler as the out of town family car (05 FX 35) but the family can make it 72 miles on a full charge from my house in Northern VA to our relatives in Baltimore. No worries (pack the L2 EVSE in the trunk and GO)

----
I Just really think Nissan can win over more customers by pushing out "Borrow the car for the day" and let people enjoy the driving experience or allow people to rent it for the week to see how it fits in their lifestyle. It might just work.

Many people are going to slash on the range, or not able to drive over 100miles (73-80 ideal range) Yes it gets annoying....but only when you neglect to charge to 100% and leave the timer on 80% on days where you have multiple trips to go. The 2013 probably will have a larger range and that will fill the void for everyone else.

Im happy and over 95% of all other LEAF owners love their cars as well.

· · 1 year ago

@Bubba Nicholson

Just a guess: Are you referring to that handicapped van manufacturer?

RE: Tesla just viewed my first Model S up close. I especially liked viewing the "Chassis Only" model they had in the Tesla Store in Toronto. There is no wasted space, only a few subassemblies, and looks like they should have no problem churning out 1000 a week.If their subassembly suppliers can keep up the pace that is.

@Red Leaf

Hi, Still interested in your listing of the differences between the 2011 and 2013 Nissan... Did you test drive it? Would you mind giving the rest of us an Impromtu Review? Thanks.

· · 1 year ago

"· Red Leaf · 1 day ago

There is a lot of excitement here over building the new FY13 Leaf. I was looking at one today. Smyrna and Nissan has not thrown in the towel."

Yes, Red Leaf, please tell us what you saw and learned.

"· Christof Demont... · 5 hours ago

If Nissan continues to offer a $199 per month lease with $1,999 down -- and it should regardless of whether it loses money doing so -- watch those LEAF sales numbers go up, and up, and up. Move it back to the $400 per month leases many of the early LEAF adopters paid with $3,500 down and watch the LEAF sales numbers brick big time -- or should I say sink like a giant green land-bound "turtle" in the water ;-)"

I completely agree...aside from lowering purchase price, lower lease pricing is a way for Nissan to move more volume. Considering the Leaf's relatively new technology and as yet unproven long term durability it makes the car affordable and takes much of the risk away from the lessee. I'd seriously consider a 0 down / $199 per month lease (which I know was available in some regions in Sept. and Oct.), I'd barely look at the $1,999 down / $199 per month lease, and won't even consider $300 to $400 per month lease payments. But if Nissan were able to increase sales through attractive leasing, they'd still have the problem of defining the remaining warranty for battery capacity of lease returned vehicles before resale, since to my knowledge they still have not clearly defined a battery capacity loss warranty on new cars, nor provided pricing or a commitment to a battery upgrade path for the Leaf in the future.

I'm seriously interested in leasing a Leaf with the right terms, slightly less interested in a purchase due to concerns about battery lifespan, and not the least bit interested in buying a used Leaf - a proposition that seems fraught with so many variables (How has the battery been treated when charging? Was the car left parked in the sun for prolonged periods of time? Was the car quick charged multiple times per day? Was the car ever left in a discharged state for a prolonged period of time? How will Nissan warranty used Leafs? Etc.) that it feels too risky to me.

· patb (not verified) · 1 year ago

A 50% increase in battery range, if that battery could do 100 miles,

and

Level 3 chargers up the major interstates. SO that Road trips can be done.

· SteveCh (not verified) · 1 year ago

It's not the customers fault that electric car sales aren't performing.
It is the manufacturer's fault.

From the beginning the milegage claims are bogus. When you get 50 miles range instead of the advertised 100 it is somehow suppposed to be your fault because
you actually drove the car. Have a problem with your battery going bad.
Nissan will pretend like they don't want to hear about it. Same thing - it's your fault.
The car manufacturers need to be honest and not promise what they can't deliver.

I live in a medium size town. If I had a LEAF I could not even go across
town and be sure I could make it back home. I also do not have time to make
keeping track of every mile I drive a high priority. Nissan has showed me that
their product is way overhyped, not that well designed, can't be depended on for
years of use and will depreciate like a falling rock. No thank you.

I no longer trust Nissan. They've made fools of their first EV customers.
I doubt I'd ever buy one of their cars.
My $.02

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

Electric cars are a fad - too expensive, poor range (gets worse as batteries age), very costly to replace batteries after 6 -8 years, going to have very poor resale (who wants to pay 8-10,000 for new batteries). Also batteries can lose 60% of their capacity if you let them get really cold (park outside in northern climates in winter.
Who killed the electric car - now we all know, we did. We didnt buy the lemons!

· · 1 year ago

@SteveCh,
Unfortunately, Nissan is the only large manufacturer that has committed much to EVs. This is probably because, as bottom of the heap, they have less to gain by upsetting the status quo than the rest. They also have no history of leading in technology, therefore, it is understandable that they might have trouble when they find themselves in uncharted waters where they can't just tweak what the innovators have done.
I agree with your concerns but request you give Nissan a little break for having the guts to do what is right, even if they really don't know how to do it very well.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

Well, you can't fault Nissan for trying (although it is NOT a great try, many things to improve), it is an issue NOT with the car company, but with the technology and infrastructure.

Without improvement in battery technology AND infrastructure, EVs will NOT become widely popular. That is a fact. Sure, there are many EV fans out there will be gladly buying an existing EV. But that is still a limited market. If you ask just about every EV owners and EV fans, they will tell you that they want "lower price", "longer range", "faster recharge time" and "more public charging stations". Well, all of them are battery technology and infrastructure issues. Sure, Tesla has done it, but Tesla also cost $100k for that "nice" version.

Personally, I think it is perfect fine with "compliance" EVs, as long as auto makers make them and push for better technology and bettery infrastructure, there will be buyers and market. In the mean time, the EREVs and PHEV will pull more and more buyers into the EV experience without much fears due to the lack of infrastructure. But they also increase the demand for better technology and infrastructure. It is a win-win situation.

The real threat to today's EVs are high MPG hybrids such as Prius and low gas price. That is fundamental. Most buyers buy cars for "economic" reasons. If EV don't make sense economically, then it will NEVER be widely accepted. Prius is the SINGLE LARGEST road block to EV market. It the lowest cost per mile operating vehicle out there without a plug. That is why Toyota NEVER fully embraced EVs. it invested Billions into its hybrid technology and there are no reason to abandon that any time soon.

· · 1 year ago

Sorry everyone; I am little busy and I do not always get back to the site as much as I would like. I am not going to get into the changes I will let Nissan announce that but there are changes. FY13 launches mid next month so it will not be long and I am sure there will be plenty of publicity to go around. I was privileged to see an FY13 last week during a visit but only for a very short time. I was impressed by the look of the car.

· · 1 year ago

I know, I am feeding the troll. But I am bored at work and can't resist...

"Electric cars are a fad"

They said the same thing about automobiles. And automatic transmissions. And all wheel drive. And hybrids.

"too expensive"

Compared to what? People said the iPhone was too expensive and look how that is turning out...

"poor range"

This varies by customer. For many people range is fine.

"(gets worse as batteries age)"

Same with gasoline engines.

"very costly to replace batteries after 6 -8 years"

1st: there is no evidence that you will have to replace them.
2nd: they are not all that costly, especially compared to many repairs that a 6 to 8 year old ICE car can require. Timing belts. Brakes. Transmissions. Tune-ups. All cost money and need to be done on ICE cars as they age.
3rd: battery costs are falling.

"going to have very poor resale (who wants to pay 8-10,000 for new batteries).

Hybrids have proved otherwise. Also, you don't set resale values. The market does.

" Also batteries can lose 60% of their capacity if you let them get really cold (park outside in northern climates in winter."

And winterized diesel fuel has less energy, and diesel gels in cold. But there are ways to cope. Same with electric - you adjust. This is why some companies have active temperature management.

"Who killed the electric car - now we all know, we did. We didnt buy the lemons!"

They are selling well... In fact the LEAF sells better than more than a third of all vehicle models currently produced. How is that a failure?

· gascant (not verified) · 1 year ago

In my view, PHEV's or ER cars (like the Volt) are good for the overall marketplace. Almost universally, their drivers do what they can to avoid filling them with gas. Once their leases run out in 2-3 years, they will likely be looking for pure EV's. By then, range and price will improve, making them much more appealing. Even today, hybrids only account for a few percent of sales and no one is writing them off.

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan,
While I fully understand how you find PHEVs, I am very concerned about what happens with them in about 5 to 8 years. PHEV's (possible) fatal flaw is the extreme number of charge cycles that the batteries must endure if it only goes a short range per charge.
I also agree with you in that pure BEVS aren't for everyone yet. This, however, does not affect their viability, since a pickup, sports car, or mini-van aren't for everyone either. No single car style seems to meet everyone's needs all the time.
I believe that Nissan could have done a much better job on the Leaf without costing any more money if they were a bit smarter. Nissan could also have done a little to support infrastructure as well but they haven't - hence they have no place to complain.
I also agree with you about high mileage ICE, unfortunately, they are like the frogs in a pot on a stove. If you bring the temperature up quickly, they'll hop out but if you bring it up slowly, they'll just sit there and eventually boil to death. Sure, in the early days the frogs in the hot pot will suffer a bit of pain, unlike those in the warm pot.
PHEVs are hopefully, a good bridge but they are a whole lot more expensive than you and most Volt owners realize. I fear that GM may give up on the Volt because they have to subsidize it so much, especially if they have to start replacing batteries.
BEVs and infrastructure are a much cheaper way to go. Tesla is expensive today but, like the PHEV, their expensive cars are a bridge. The advantage with Tesla is that their high priced cars are supporting infrastructure build-out while GM actually is discouraging fast-charging infrastructure buildout in order to protect their investment in PHEVs. I'm hoping that with the ratification of the SAE DCFC spec, this is all behind us, however, I can't help to think that they may have sabotaged it into a barely-viable solution.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

@Ex-EV1 driver,

"PHEV's (possible) fatal flaw is the extreme number of charge cycles that the batteries must endure if it only goes a short range per charge."

I disagree. GM already foresee this problem by "holding" the max charge to be much less than the max capacity of the battery. Volt only uses 10.5KWh out the 16KWh battery, ~ 66%. No different from a typical BEV owner who try to extend its battery life by charging less than 100%. Volt's battery is also better regulated than Leaf and its expected life is longer b/c of that. Now, as far as "usable" range goes, so far, I haven't heard any Volt owner with a degraded range problem.

As far as cost go, sure, carrying two power train will always be more expensive than a single power train. But like I said many times, an ICE can be made for about $2-$3 per HP. In the Volt's case, it is only the "cheaper" part of the powertrain.

Now, as far as GM goes, well, it has to make money. With all the crap it is getting from the bailout, do you think GM will let the Volt live if Volt end up costing Billions of dollars without returns for years? Do you think US taxpayers are willing to fund it again? Absolutely NOT. At the end, it has to make money. Prius didn't make money for about 5-6 years. And that didn't even include the original R&D cost. GM is tyring to spread the Volt technology across platforms to lower cost as well. But it will take years.

Remember, it is FAR easier to take the Volt power train into a pure EV than taking ANY OTHER PHEV powertrain into a pure EV. Volt is essentially an EV with a range extender. Its EV mode defines the car's every single spec except for range and cost. With a larger battery pack and remove the extender, it will easily become an EV. NO other PHEV can function like that if you remove its ICE....

Now, let us talk about Tesla. I love Tesla and I hope it succeed. In fact, I am saving up for the so called next generation $35k Tesla. But I have some doubts. Without major breakthrough in technology and infrastructure, it won't happen. Even if there are technology improvement so $35k Tesla with good performance is possible, infrastructure won't catch up easily.

Tesla build those so called super charger network. That is great. But how many spots are there? (5-6 spots on average) What is its "capacity througput" rate? On a busy holiday weekend, it won't work for everyone, not until we have as many "FAST charger" as gas stations. Most people will simply say, let us just build more Super Charger networks. Most people are clueless about the impact of those super chargers.

Fast chargers require 80KW- 100KW capbilities in the Tesla case. Typical home draws 24KW to 30KW. Modern homes are rated up to 200Amps, which is at best 40KW with derating. Most electric grid are designed that homes draw less than 20KW at a time. Each Super charger station would draw amount of power equal to 5 homes combined. Until we have a "new" grid, it won't happen. A new grid won't happen just b/c some auto makers "demands" it. Tesla is "banking" on the Super Chargers are used fully all the time since the lower rated version don't even get that capability.

Typical EVs get anywhere between 3.5 miles to 4 miles per KWh. So, if you want the infrastructure to support a fast recharge of 200 miles (50KWh-60KWh) range in 15-20 mins, you would need a capacity of 200KW-250KW per charging station. 4-5 charging station per Charger location would require about 1 MW of power (assuming no loss which is going to be at least 10%). I just don't see that happenig for decades. That is why PHEV and EREV are the most practical way of approaching it.

With that said, it doesn't mean EVs won't work for many people. I agree with you that no car solution is perfect for everyone. But we are talking about a technology shifting point. Majority of the people use their cars for commute and slow charging are perfectly okay for most people.

If we have 1 Million EVs and each EV commutes about 40 miles per day, it will only add 0.38% additional load to the existing electrical grid. We are nowhere close to that. But that is different from requiring a "fast charging" network that would support that.

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan

I think your typical fast charger will be a Level II in/ level III out kind of thing. (10 Kw into the unit, then 150 kw out of the unit, from a built in battery pack). The savings in demand charges will more than compensate for the cost of the battery, which in time we're all assuming will come down. These are not hard and fast numbers, and the input will increase with added popularity, but you get the idea.

I looked at the specs of a typical fast charger for Nissan Dealerships -90 % efficiency? That must just billow out heat in the summertime then. 90% power factor isn't so great, but then most dealerships may not be billed for reactive power.

Blink DC Fast Charger Specifications
Maximum Output Power 60 kW Max (Setting Adjustable 30kW - 60 kW)
Maximum Output Current 200 Amps
Minimum Output Current 5 Amps
Output Voltage 200 VDC - 450 VDC
Input Voltage 208/380/400/480/575 VAC 3-Phase
Frequency 50/60 Hz
Input Current 200 Amps at 208 VAC
89 Amps at 480 VAC
74 Amps at 575 VAC

Connector/Cable Yazaki-CHAdeMO compliant 120A rated
Cable Length 12 feet (estimated)
Charging Station Dimensions 52" W x 98" H x 15" D
Charging Station Weight 450 lbs
GPU Exterior Dimensions 47" W x 69" H x 30" D
GPU Weight 1474 lbs
Temperature Rating -4° F (-20° C) to +122° F (+50° C)
Enclosure NEMA Type 3R; sun-and-heat-resistant
Charge Control CHAdeMO compliant
Efficiency 90% or greater
Power Factor .9 or better
Charge Ports 2

The big Nissan dealership near me just increased their electrics from 300 - 400 amps, a very large long run underground at 120/208 (more like 200 during the summer at the charger docs). They are the best Nissan dealership with 4 30 amp level II chargers, but they are notgetting a Level III since the thing draws 200 amps alone. They haven't paid for the brand new service they just put in yet. I think my battery level 2- 3 thing is going to be what transpires, since I haven't heard who is going to pay for all the expenses of the Level 3 thing. Not at $12 / kw demand

· Objective (not verified) · 1 year ago

I see you're still offering lots of free advice, Bill.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland,

"I think your typical fast charger will be a Level II in/ level III out kind of thing. (10 Kw into the unit, then 150 kw out of the unit, from a built in battery pack). "

That system will work. However, it won't provide the "cycle time" that needed to fulfill the demand of EVs during a busy holiday weekend. If the the stations are full and people are lining up to wait for it, then it won't work for a massive EV market.

Telsa is putting in "super charger" stations between key locations in CA. Those locations are exactly the bottle neck to long distance travel during a holiday travel...

That was my point. Until we have a "realistic" EV infrastructure, EVs are NOT going to take over the auto market. But it doesn't mean it won't work for millions of owners for 80% of their need. It is just NOT ready to replace all hybrids, PHEV or high MPG ICE yet.

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan,

The "Holiday Weekend Problem" is a hard one. I hear it used by those who support the Volt and think any BEV is too limited, and doomed to failure. However, I'm not sure it's quite as bad as you envision. This situation is the exception rather than the norm. Plus, you need large concentrations of EVs that are going on long trips at the same time. Honestly, I think those selling BEVs in particular should try to satisfy the huge market of multiple car households. Then with those kinds of quantities of batteries around, the kind of battery banks for Bill's proposal might be feasible. Heck, wouldn't it be something if the "end-of-life" BEV batteries were repurposed for BEV fast chargers?

FWIW, I don't think we will ever need fast chargers as ubiquitous as gas stations. Remember, 80-90% of miles driven will be from charging at home or at work. It's not like holiday weekends suddenly cause lines at every gas station in the country. In fact, this discussion is rather timely - this coming Thanksgiving weekend, pay attention to every gas station you pass. Seriously. See for yourself how long the lines get in your region. I bet every rest stop along the NYS thruway will have at least 1-2 open pumps.

· Tim (not verified) · 1 year ago

How about putting in Solar Roadways? If not for every road, just main roads and highways, and include inductive charging. Current inductive systems can transfer 10 kW, enough to double an EV's range at highway speeds. The solar panels in the road power the cars and exchange power with the existing grid until it takes over and replaces the grid. The company behind them estimates they can generate 3X more power than the US uses.

If, for whatever reason, Nissan loses its place in the EV marathon, Mitsubishi ought to have little issue taking its place. The owners of the i-MiEV seem very satisfied.

· Gary (not verified) · 1 year ago

If I remember correctly, the last I read, Mitsubishi i-Miev sales were disappointingly low even by Mitsubishi's standards and may be dropped, and that Mitsubishi is planning on focusing on PHEV's.

· · 1 year ago

Sorry, Tim. I just don't see the idea of so-called solar roadways as realistic or viable. People pop onto this blog from time to time to suggest such things and - without attempting to be purposely insulting or rude - folks like me come along to debunk it as crazy science fiction.

First, think about the sort of abuse the surface of a highway takes and what it has to be constructed out of . . . asphalt or concrete. The stuff is mixed, poured, allowed to cure or compacted with massive amounts of weight. It's hoped that it will last decades, but it invariably has to patched with similar materials from what it was originally constructed out of.

Now, think about the nature of photovoltaic panels . . . carefully assembled wafers of silicon that are soldered together and covered with a layer of glass, which you want keep as clean as possible and carefully align with the sun to get the most out of them. And you want them lying on the ground, with 18-wheelers and cars constantly rolling over them and crushing them? The idea is sheer madness.

A more realistic proposal (but still pie-in-the-sky ridiculous) is to keep making roadways out of "real" construction materials, but bury inductance infrastructure underneath to propel electric cars along. At least were not talking about driving on top of sheets of glass with silicon chips and soldered wires underneath any longer. But it still boggles the mind as to how this could be implemented without spending money that simply isn't there . . . much less generating the political will to do so.

Solar PV and EVs? Yes! That's a great idea! Put the panels up on the roofs of homes, office buildings and parking garages. On the highways, Tesla's Supercharger network, with its generously proportioned solar PV awnings, seems to be setting the model on how to "electrify" the roads for cars . . .

http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

As far as city roads, there is now much discussion on making them out of something that minimizes the urban heat island effect and drainage problems . . . lighter colored materials to reflect more heat than it absorbs and ones that have a moderate amount of porosity, so that rainwater stores to a certain degree and doesn't immediately run off. But it's still a more carefully deployed variation of the time-honored materials we've been using since the ancient pre-Christian civilizations gave us the first paved roads . . .

http://www.epa.gov/heatisld/mitigation/pavements.htm

If you want to move lots of people efficiently through dedicated corridors and directly employ electricity along those long stretches, we've already got something we could build to do that: high speed rail . . .

https://asunews.asu.edu/20120726_chesterspeedrail

Once people travel the hundreds or thousands of miles by high speed rail, it's hoped that they will arrive at train stations where they can rent electric cars and travel around town with zero tailpipe emissions on fairly conventional-looking streets that are intelligently constructed from durable real-world materials that minimizes what is so bad about most of the ones we have now.

Meanwhile, all that beautiful solar PV is up on buildings, kept clean as possible and pointed towards the sun with the greatest of care, where it should be.

· · 1 year ago

Just listening to the group of Solar afficiondos (sp?) who have actually invested huge amounts of CA$H in their arrays, the one thing that always makes them most upset is the phenomenon of "Solar Dimming" (sometimes called global dimming). They don't get the number of KWH out of their pricey arrays (I claim due to no fault of theirs).

· · 1 year ago

@Marvin Marvel Fan

Well, I did say the proportions are variable, and it is somewhat dependent on the ultimate cost of the batteries. If batteries get like computer or cell phone pricing, then there's no problem in building a fast charger (level 2 to 3) with 10 kw input, 150 kw output, and with a 1000 kwh battery it could loose ground all weekend, and make it up during monday and tuesday.

There has been some deserved criticism of 'consultants'. One thing people could 'consult' on would be to figure the demand factor for fast chagers on a busy highway. Are the things actually working 5% of the time, 10%? 25%? 50%? Many variables such as # of chargers available (I think that would RAISE the % usage after careful study as to JUST how many at a particular location). For example, if a location only deserved ONE fast charger, its usage rate would only be like 5%, otherwise the next random customer would not be reasonably assured that a fast charger was available for him. Laundramats have the same problem calculating the precise number of washers and dryers needed. Very large laundramets have High demand factors for their machines, since even though the machines a busy, there is still a great likelihood one will be free for the next random customer. That kind of thing.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

"However, I'm not sure it's quite as bad as you envision. This situation is the exception rather than the norm. "

Well, it is already bad enough in my work places. We have over 7 EVs for about 5 spots and we are "tiime-sharing" it.

For busy locations such as LA to LV or SF to Lake Tahoe, those are key locations. And it is silly to compare it with gas stations. Gas stations take about 10 mins for each car to fill up at least 300 miles range and the station is open again. For a super charging station, it takes at least 30 mins to "fill up" 150 miles in those "key" bottle neck station. Those are the limiting factors to prevent EV from traveling long distances. People buy Volt b/c those are realistic problems. That is an infrastructure problem.

Bill's suggestion on 1MWh battery backed up charging stations are "realistic". However, that is VERY costly. At $200/KWh, you are talking about $200K per charging station just for the battery. What is the ROIC in that? Therefore, it is back to my original point of "battery technology". If battery is cheap, then we would have 500-600 miles EVs already....

Like I said, I support EV. But its main issue are battery technology in terms of cost/size/weight and charging infrastructure. Both will take decades to solve. But it doesn't mean EVs won't work for many people who mainly charge at home/work. Just don't expect it to replace all the hybrids, PHEV, EREVs any time soon.

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan

Hi, Well, I didn't claim someone should go out and do this just now, my point is with demand charges (essentially usage fines) around $15/ kw during the summertime, a FAST CHARGER would have to be very very heavily used to make up the $1000 fine each month for a 60 kw output, 72 kw input charger. And if batteries in cars got slightly bigger, (say you wanted to charge a Tesla model S 85 kw battery - like vehicle ( I say that because currently, the Model S can't take juice at this rate, but who knows? Five years from now the standard "fast charger" may have increased from 60 to 150 kw.(for reasons I won't get into here I think 150 kw is the practical upper limit charging rate for quite some time), in 25 minutes or something to 80% charge, that would take around 150 kw Without a battery this one charging unit is causing a monthly fine of $2250 before any energy use at all. .And if they charged the public a bit of a profit to make up the cost of installation, they better have HUGE usage of the thing to help amortize that cost.

My point about the 1 MWH battery pack for the charger envisions what happened to the cell phone pricing and computer pricing.. If batteries got down from $200 / kwh to say, $20 or $5, then the cost of a big battery would not be so bad. If that happened, concurrently with that would be ever larger batteries in vehicles since they wouldn't cost that much.. Therefore, if people had 200 kwh batteries in their car (in stead of a 20-24 kwh typical today), and they were Dead on an Interstate, They'd definitely WANT a 150 kw to quickly get them on their way, or fill them up completely in 1 1/2 hours while having lunch.

Will all the coal power plants shutting down, and electrical generation as a whole overall decreasing in the US, then shortages and brownouts in August of every year are somewhat more likely. A 'battery buffered" fast charger would alleviate this condition since it wouldn't be drawing that much juice on a sweltering afternoon when everybody everywhere has their airconditioners on, and due to the condensing pressure of the compressors peaking due to the outside heat, they are producing minimal cooling and maximum electricity usage everywhere.

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan,
I suspect that the times/days when the highways are filled with vacationers driving their vehicles are not very likely to be the times of high peak electricity usage. After all, if an overwhelming number of people are on the road, they aren't using electricity in their homes, offices, and factories demanding air conditioning and operating machinery.
Also, $200K to battery back a charging station along the highway is chump change compared with the cost of building a gas station and the maintenance is less as well.
Don't worry, Tesla Superchargers already exist at all of the "key" bottleneck locations in CA that you mention. We'll soon know the realities of these situations and be able to avoid over-speculation.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

"Tesla Superchargers already exist at all of the "key" bottleneck locations in CA that you mention. We'll soon know the realities of these situations and be able to avoid over-speculation."

Well, not really since there are so few Tesla S out there...

Maybe if Tesla expands to the 40KWh version and/or allow other EV users, then we will see a problem.

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan

Not sure about Tesla's battery policy... I'm a Roadster owner trying to get a stripped Model S. I want the 85 kwh battery but not the supercharger stuff. Its not available for the 40 kwh battery, which supposedly they haven't made any yet anyway. Its $2000 option for the 60 kwh battery, and standard for the 85 kwh model.

I dont even need the UMC cord for the Model S that is $500 if u lose it. I''m trying to get sales to have a deduct option of $500 since I only need the standard J1772 adapter which does not use the cord. Since I want the 85 kwh battery, but no supercharger, can I get $2000 off the price? They can put mine onto somebody's 60 kwh battery and get the $2000 out of them, same with the UMC that I don't need.

The model X supposedly only has 60 and 85 kwh options. I'd buy a bigger battery if they'd offer it.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

The Leaf was deliberately engineered without a battery cooling system, overriding the engineers, to create exactly the current problems. Ghosn is a 5th columnist - what is the best way to prevent a new technology? Own, control and "market" it and shed crocodile tears when it "fails".

You may be unaware of the spate of suicides in the Renault EV engineering department in France for instance and the "spying" scandal generated by executive "overrreaction", firing their top EV people for what in the end turned out to be no substantiated reason whatsoever.

Oh these deliberate fools.

· · 1 year ago

"Anonymous (not verified) · 39 min ago

The Leaf was deliberately engineered without a battery cooling system, overriding the engineers, to create exactly the current problems. Ghosn is a 5th columnist - what is the best way to prevent a new technology? Own, control and "market" it and shed crocodile tears when it "fails".

You may be unaware of the spate of suicides in the Renault EV engineering department in France for instance and the "spying" scandal generated by executive "overrreaction", firing their top EV people for what in the end turned out to be no substantiated reason whatsoever.

Oh these deliberate fools."

Yup, and then in Chapter II of this diabolical plan - After proving once and for all that EV's are doomed to failure, Nissan swoops into the void created by it's successfully disastrous EV campaign and amazingly rises to #1 in global sales, spurred on by it's amazing new ICE vehicle releases. From the profits of Nissan's subsequent ascendency, 5th columnist Ghosn engineers the unfriendly takeover of Space-X, and, sensing the demise of earth as his personal fiefdom, uses Musk's Signature Model Rocket to explore the universe for other world's to conquer...

Who would like to take a crack at Chapter III of this fictional masterpiece?

· Shaun w (not verified) · 1 year ago

Having owned a LEAF for 18 months, and enjoy it more than any car I've ever owned (including some costing more), it would be a real shame if the innovation in EVs was curtailed even before most people had the chance to fully experience them. I still see so many comments and reports suggesting their only raison d'etre is to save money. We don't expect that of most other vehicles, so why the LEAF? I'd far rather pay $10k extra for a LEAF than say a Porche Boxter. The LEAF has benefits i can enjoy every time i drive it (quiet, ride quality, smooth etc).

I do think Nissan had made some errors. Us early adopters were not treated very well, and IMO they should have released it as an Infinity, and slightly upscale, thus getting away from the expectation to be cheap. Can always drop back down to that market later. GM too should have started with a $42k Cadillac Volt.

· Tim (not verified) · 1 year ago

The biggest things EV's need to succeed are time and patience. How long did it take for people to make the switch from horses to cars? for cellphones to catch on? People balked, but they weren't given up on and continued to progress until that tipping point that exploded sales was reached. We're only two years into the EV market with the first innovation since the EV-95 battery in 1997. If EV's weren't given up on in 2001, who knows where we could've been today. The Tesla Roadster could've been on the road by 2005 (it was, as the T-Zero), and today's LEAF would have a 250 mile range for $35,000. Those EV's with the EV-95 NiMH battery are still around, still running, and still getting near original range, 10 years later. Everything stopped when the automakers defeated the ZEV mandate, sold the battery rights to Texaco-Chevron, and went for hydrogen, which is STILL not available.

So, Solar Roadways do sound nearly impossible, that doesn't mean give up on them. When the Motorola brick came out, no one would've believed they would become the thickness of a house key and be able to replace a computer and quickly retrieve almost any information they want. The right combination of materials could make them work. They could work with today's materials. The only way to find out is through actually building and testing them. The same with EV's and their charging infrastructure, be it plugs or inductive.

What's holding EV's back is misinformation and lack of knowledge. People can know about EV's, but if they're hearing bad info, they won't bother with them. If people understand the concept of EV's with CORRECT information, most will find EV's are just as practical as their current gas-powered car, possibly even more convenient. An EV would be perfect for me. I rarely drive outside of the car's range, I know how far I'm going to drive when I go somewhere, and if I'm in doubt of how far I'll drive or I know I'll exceed the range of the car, I would take the other car or modify the trip to make it work. I'm sure there are many more people in my boat.

As for how the manufacturers are treating EV's today, I think Tesla has the best idea. Start with a low-volume, high-priced car, aim for the luxury market for people who can afford it, use economies of scale and bring a lower-priced car at a higher production rate and aim for that price market, and just work your way down. Once Tesla gets down to the price range of the LEAF, some serious competition will take place, and even more when you get to Mitsubishi i price range.

Hopefully Mitsubishi keeps going with the EV, I want to buy one next March.

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan,

""However, I'm not sure it's quite as bad as you envision. This situation is the exception rather than the norm. "

Well, it is already bad enough in my work places. We have over 7 EVs for about 5 spots and we are "tiime-sharing" it."

You are misunderstanding my statement. I was specifically talking about the "Holiday Weekend" problem. Those occasional times (maybe 4-5 weekends per year?) when a lot of people hit the road for long trips that would lead to lines at quick chargers.

When you talk about work place charging, you are completely missing my point. The infrastructure we need there is L1/L2, not quick charging. Most people live closer than 75 miles from work.

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