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 remainingEnlarge 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.