Nissan Leaf To Get Better Battery, No News On Capacity Loss

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2012 Nissan Leaf

2012 Nissan Leaf

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When it launched back in 2010, the Nissan Leaf electric hatchback was criticized for its high sticker price, due in part to its expensive battery pack. 

Now Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has confirmed what had been widely rumored: Future models of the Nissan Leaf electric car will get an improved, cheaper battery pack, perhaps as soon as the 2013 model that will go on sale early next year. 

Talking to The Wall Street Journal last week, Ghosn said that the Japanese automaker was working hard to improve the battery pack in its first all-electric car. 

“There is a second generation of battery coming (online) now...which is less costly than the previous one,” he said. “we are in a race in which you reduce the costs and adapt the price.”

With lower sales figures than it had hoped, the current Nissan Leaf is fighting tough competition on dealer lots from cars like the 2012 Chevrolet Volt and 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

A cheaper battery pack however, should reduce build costs for the automaker. In turn, that reduced production cost should equate to a lower sticker price, making it more affordable, and attractive, for more buyers. 

2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL Instrument Cluster

2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL Instrument Cluster

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Nissan hasn’t yet detailed when the improved battery will enter into production, or if it offers improved performance or range characteristics over the original Leaf battery.

But with the 2013 Nissan Leaf, due to enter production shortly, already promising other improvements over the 2011 and 2012 Leafs, there’s a possibility the improved battery will be fitted to all 2013 Leafs.

The news of an improved, cheaper battery pack is a welcome one for anyone considering buying a new electric car, but less helpful for anyone battling the concerns of continuing battery capacity loss

Despite borrowing 6 Nissan Leafs with apparent battery capacity loss and studying them at its Case Grande test facility, Nissan has remained relatively quiet on the issue to date. 

2012 Nissan Leaf in the Apple iPhone 4S commercial

2012 Nissan Leaf in the Apple iPhone 4S commercial

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“We’ve tested a number of individual vehicles and will be contacting those owners to discuss their individual results in the near term,” Nissan spokesperson Katherine Zachary told us on Friday.

“We also anticipate having more information to release to the wider Arizona customer base soon," she continued. "We are taking Phoenix customer concerns seriously and are working hard to ensure their full satisfaction.”

Essentially, Nissan’s official statement holds no new news, but with the results of an independent range test, held over the weekend, due any day, as well as the promise of a better battery pack, expect more Leaf-related battery pack news in the coming days, and weeks.


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Comments (10)
  1. I am unsure wether Nissan needs to drop the price point or look to increase range. I think for a BEV, they are getting hurt by their lack of range, a 100 to 150 Mile range does a lot for increasing sales, but, at 250$/KWH, they need to analyze the sales data. Perhaps Nissan needs to offer the Leaf in models with different battery pack sizes, let the customers figure that out

  2. Pat; they need to drop the price and keep the existing range. I talk with tons of people who are very interested in driving electric but cant justify the upfront costs. add an effective QC network, legislation mandating employee charging options and we should be fine. the average price of new car is over $30,000 which means the LEAF will be in that range very quickly but that price is still too high for too many people

  3. David, many years will pass before anyone can "justify the upfront costs". A price reduction of a few thousand won't change that.

    Tesla is the only company that understands that excitement, not economics, is what will drive electric vehicle sales in the near term. Unfortunately for Nissan, the only electric car less exciting than the Leaf is the Coda.

    I'd like to see the electic vehicle revolution accelerate, but I cringe when people call for things like "mandated employee charging stations".

  4. I'm a lifetime car guy and I can tell you David that I'm excited about my Leaf. It is downright amazing to drive a quiet, super efficient car that scoots and burns no fossil fuels. It is one of the most interesting cars I've ever owned. The upfront costs are no big deal when you look at running costs.

  5. "Exciting" is a relative term. Although not as exciting as the Tesla S, I find the Leaf far more exciting than both the Focus and the Miev. And frankly, I wouldn't even consider the Coda.

  6. Nissan knows the degradation problems are not limited to Arizona, although Phoenix is definitely ground zero for the trouble. I better see a new, improved battery in my immediate future, or else they buy my car back. Love the Leaf, hate the relative silence we've heard from Nissan.

  7. While it’s good to hear this news and I hope that Nissan will find the right recipe to increase sales, their treatment of owners afflicted with much faster than predicted battery capacity loss has been downright shameful. Although I don’t live in a hot climate, I have seen 10% range reduction in 15 months of ownership and given Nissan’s behavior I saw no choice but to sell my vehicle to avoid rapid depreciation. Given the uncertainty Nissan’s actions have created, I believe that leasing is the only option that makes sense with the Leaf at this juncture. It’s either that, a battery capacity warranty from Nissan or a different EV altogether.

  8. Nissan reps this weekend here at AltCar Expo in Santa Monica stated that the 2013 LEAFS will absolutely NOT have battery upgrades or improved range. They claim that the batteries and range will be exactly the same as the current model. I hope they are misinformed.

  9. @Kelly: I'm hearing that any improvements to the 2013 Leaf battery will be incremental at best (a few percent in range, perhaps, and those may be due to tweaking of accessories).

  10. A new IMPROVED battery is in order, but that hasn't even been offered this "TINY" group of dissatisfied owners

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