Exec Stands Firm on Nissan Leaf Batteries, Previews 2013 (Video) Page 2

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Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules

Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules

Battery replacement

Sexton then went on to question Palmer about battery replacement, asking what the cost of battery replacement will be for those who want a healthier pack. 

Palmer’s answer was frank, yet devoid of concrete costs. 

“Our preferred form of purchase is that we lease the car and the battery, which means we [Nissan] takes all the risk,” he explained. “That tells you that we at Nissan are very confident in the level of technology.”

“But there was a requirement from some customers to buy,” he added, pointing out that Nissan had anticipated most customers would lease.

“Seen from Tokyo...the only reason that you’d replace the battery is if there was something wrong with the battery, in which case, Nissan would replace it under its 8-year warranty replacement scheme.”

The concept that someone would want to buy a new battery, Palmer admitted, was something Nissan hadn’t thought of. 

“We never imagined there would be a customer, and apparently there is, who would say at the end of 5 years of life, that they would want to bring that state of health of battery back to 100 percent, and therefore buy a battery,” he explained. 

“In consequence of that, we’ve never set a price for a battery pack,” he  added, promising that he would investigate how Nissan would do that, what the price would be, and if a battery replacement was practical or not. 

Palmer also took the opportunity to reiterate Nissan’s commitment to customer satisfaction, promising that where needed, Nissan will offer goodwill actions, including updating battery life gauges, to ensure existing customers are satisfied with their cars. 

 2013 Leaf, battery upgrades

2011 Nissan Leaf State of Charge and Miles remaining

2011 Nissan Leaf State of Charge and Miles remaining

Enlarge Photo

After dealing with the matter of battery life, attention turned to the upcoming 2013 Nissan Leaf, which is due to launch early next year. 

“You’ll see small improvements, both in the area of the battery and in the level of the vehicle,” Palmer promised. “It’s not a revolution: it’s an evolution. For example, the gauge accuracy is addressed.”

When asked if the lower cost battery pack promised for the 2013 Leaf will bring the cost of the car down, Palmer was non-committal. 

“Clearly, today, the ability to sell electric cars very much depends on the subsidies coming from the government. And clearly, one of the tasks of the manufacturer, is that we assume that the subsidies will [not] last forever,” he said. 

“We have to get our costs under control. We’re preparing ourselves for a day when subsidies will not be available,” he continued. “What you’ll see in the U.S. and around the world is a different model mix.”

“There’s a slightly different change to the lineup. We didn’t overtly do it to bring down prices: we did it to basically see it made in the U.S., reduce our exposure to the Yen, and make sure that the cars are more specifically tuned to local customer needs.”

As for battery upgrades for early adopters? 

As with battery upgrade prices, Palmer was unable to say if it would be offered by Nissan, or if it was even possible. 

Backward compatibility, and the option of upgrading older Leafs to new battery technology, remained in NIssan’s thoughts, however, he admitted.

“Backward compatibility is always an issue. It’s our desire that we can get backward compatibility,” he explained to Sexton. “Somewhere, what level of change, is still a point of big discussion.”

With one video now filmed, and more on the way, Nissan wants to make itself more transparent to owners and potential buyers of its electric cars. 

But do Palmer’s responses impress you, or leave you with more questions? And which questions do you feel are still unanswered by Nissan?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (20)
  1. Hummm, sounds like the people were wearing their chest waders at the conference. A friend of mine was completing the purchase of a Leaf in New Mexico last week. I advised him of the problems in Phoenix, plus the class action suit in CA. He now is the proud owner of a Volt.

  2. I would suggest two actions for Nissan to help the situation:

    1) Offer active cooling of the battery as an option for hot climates. My Leaf battery in Maryland is doing fine at 13k miles, but I feel for the folks in the Southwest.

    2) Offer a uniform trade-in value for the battery. No one is going to pay, say, $20K for a battery alone and chuck the old one, but if you already have a Leaf, you trade-in the old battery, which still has value, to Nissan for, say $15K, then get the $20K new one, for a net out-of -pocket of $5K. Nissan might want to consider a special goodwill deal for the initially affected customers, too.

  3. I understand that under nominal conditions, they expected an 8 year life. What I still don't understand is, how long is the life when baking in the hot Arizona sun?

    If the life is only 5 years, or if that will be the case for 20% of the owners there, then they may want to pull out of that geographic region for now.

    Also, if the high mileage is the problem (even in more temperate climates), what is the expected battery life for someone putting on 20,000 miles per year? Does that also drop the battery life to 5 years? If so, that should be made clear to potential customers.

    I think the whole thing is a black eye for Nissan and the EV movement. I just hope other manufacturer don't have similar problems.

  4. Also, how messed up is it that they didn't plan for battery replacement? Surely there are things that can go wrong with a battery and it will need replacement.

    I think they have planned for battery replacement but they just don't want to let the news out that the battery replacement is $20,000 (for example).

  5. Obviously they would like to hold the price for as long as possible since the longer they do, the lower the price will be.

    I think an easy solution is to require a core charge and then of course subsidize the cost if necessary.

  6. I also found the 7500 annual mileage statistic regarding Arizona Leaf owner/lessees to be an incomplete answer. Was this lower figure (compared to the 12500 miles average) made clear at the point of sale? If not, then Andy Palmer is clearly in back-peddle mode here.

    One would hope that some sort of battery thermal management system is in the works. I think it was Phoenix Leaf owner Tony Williams who noted that prototype Leafs at least had air circulation fans within the pack, but that these were left out in the production version. That's insane! Nissan should leapfrog the possible reintroduction of cooling fans (which would do little good on the hottest of Arizona days anyway) and simply employ liquid cooling for the pack.

  7. He definitely dodged the 12.5k mi question by stating that the average AZ LEAF they have data on (which are averaging 7.5k/year) is on target for 76% capacity after 5 years.

    I'd bet that if you drive like an "average" person in Phoenix, your battery will age close to twice as fast as the "average" person in the USA and thus reach 80% capacity after 2.5 years / 30k miles and 70% capacity after 5 years / 60k miles.

    The truth is - we shouldn't have to be guessing how fast the battery will degrade in the AZ heat.

    Nissan should disclose this type of information to buyers of the vehicle. Especially since it's now clear that AZ vehicles will likely lose capacity at nearly twice the rate of avg.

  8. I have had my LEAF since April 2011. I live in Arizona and at this point everything is fine, although I did not put on as much mileage as the few that seem to be causing the issue. New technology always has issues and some people should not venture into the unknown if they cannot handle that. I think Nissan is doing a commendable job by buying back cars and offering to do whatever they can to improve the cars to make customers satisfied. Unfortunately, there is always a group of bloodthirsty people who will go on the attack even though it is unwarranted.

  9. Battery degradation is also corresponds to how frequently you charge the car.

    Usually, the less miles you have, the less "full" charges you will put in your battery, thus longer life...

    That is just nature of Li battery.

    However, all those degradation will be accelerated under higher temperature.

  10. In northern Spain there is a taxi leaf from a year ago and has already traveled 47,600 km with the battery perfectly, though in that area of ​​Spain not as hot as in Arizona. So I think the problem is the heat not mileage.
    Here the news in spanish:

  11. several questions here actually. he states he has info on 400 of 450 LEAFs in the area which means 50 have opted out so he must be referring to CARWINGS maybe? i can attest from personal experience in my LEAF that i dont always hit the "accept" despite my wanting to and i think this is the reason why the mileage average is so low. not all of it is being recorded. for real mileage data, Nissan is going to have to wait until the LEAF comes in for its annual battery check

  12. Mr Palmer speaks of battery pack "health" terms of performance without addressing engineering specifics of the battery pack energy storage capacity over time. Customer concerns are more centered on "storage capacity" (effectively vehicle range) as the battery ages, and less so to drivetrain power while on the go. Stating a 7500 mile usage for Arizona vs.12500 norm adds to confusion. Battery health tends to be too sweeping a measurement to address concerns of increasing range anxiety as battery cells age.

    The 400 Arizona Leafs are only ~1% of the model on the road worldwide. This would suggest 98% of owners should have little concern. Quantifying parameters specific to kWh capacity of pack over time would ease age related range anxiety.

  13. Stating a 7,500 mile usage norm for Arizona region is effectively stating Leafs operational life is only 60,000 miles over an 8 year life vs. 1000,000 miles elsewhere (12,500 * 8). Is this guidance to Arizona owners to drive less, or is it effectively stating battery life in Arizona heat is 60% of the worldwide normalized expectations?

  14. Did he say "Gay Jack Receipt" issue?

  15. “We never imagined there would be a customer, and apparently there is, who would say at the end of 5 years of life, that they would want to bring that state of health of battery back to 100 percent, and therefore buy a battery,” he explained.

    Either this guy is a great BS artist (likely, given his position) or a complete idiot.

    Let’s see…………they create a vehicle that has the potential for an EXTREMELY long service life cycle, due in part to the fact that the IC engine has been completely eliminated. Then, they think nobody would want to BUY one of these and amortize it’s cost over an extended life cycle? And bring it back to 100% battery capacity at some future date down the road. Duh!

  16. He is correct. You miss the details.

  17. How bad is the range at 80% of the norm when running the A/C all the time? Suddenly, the Leaf is seemingly very, very impractical in these kind of climates.

  18. So. Is there accelerated pack degradation, or is day after day of baking temperature causing the BMS sensors to go haywire and shut the car down when in fact there is still power in the pack?

  19. I'm so sick of dealing with Nissan with our Leaf. After speaking with their arbitrator, they tell me that my car is high mileage, basing that on a yearly expected mileage of 7,500. Phoenix is 500 sq mi, so that calculation is ludicrous. I will NEVER buy another Nissan product. They are not standing behind the owners of the Leaf, so let the buyer beware.

  20. Nissan Executives are standing arrogantly firm in ignoring and lying to this "TINY" group of frustrated owners. This arrogance recalls the attitude of the Japanese government before World War II. Maybe Nissan should get its own nuclear reminder for this arrogance!

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