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.

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