Nissan’s all-electric Leaf isn’t having a great time of it this week in the mainstream media.  

Firstly, Nissan had to defend itself against popular British motoring entertainment program Top Gear after it showed the electric hatchback in a less-than favorable light, quoting a battery expert who said the Leaf’s 24 kilowatt hour battery pack would need replacing after just three years.

Now British newspaper The Telegraph has joined in the fight, claiming that a new battery pack for the Leaf would cost owners a few hundred dollars shy of $32,000.

In an article published yesterday, the newspaper quoted Andy Palmer, Nissan’s Senior Vice-President, as saying each of the 48 individual modules which make up the Leaf’s battery pack cost $662 to replace. 

AESC lithium-ion cell

AESC lithium-ion cell

Using some simple math -- and assuming that the cost of an individual module would be 1/48th the price of an entire battery pack -- the newspaper came up with its rather outlandish estimate. 

But the idea that the Leaf would even need a battery replacement in its lifetime isn’t a realistic one, according to Nissan’s experts. 

“The Leaf battery pack is designed to last the lifetime of the car. IF used in normal conditions, it is not expected that owners will ever have to replace the battery pack,” a spokesperson told us. “Our tests suggest that the battery will be at 80% capacity after five years depending on charging and usage. Even at 80% the Leaf would give a range of more than 80 miles.”

As for the claims from both Top Gear, The Times, and The Telegraph that rapid level 3 charging will kill a Leaf battery pack within three years, Nissan disagrees. 

50 Kw Leaf Charger

50 Kw Leaf Charger

“We are confident that [rapid] charging once a day will have no impact on the expected durability,” said a Nissan representative. “A single [rapid] charge plus a conventional charge per day would give enough to travel almost 200 miles a day, or 72,000 miles a year. The average motorist does less than 10,000 miles a year. An example from our telematics shows a privately-owned Leaf in Tokyo still has 100% charge capacity after 10,00 miles and 326 [rapid] charges."

And price? The figures claimed by the press for a replacement pack are completely inflated, Nissan claims. 

“To make the maintenance of the Leaf as easy as possible, the “battery” is actually 48 batteries in a large box which can be replaced individually to keep costs low. Each is connected to the Leaf’s advanced telematics system so Nissan can monitor the health of each module remotely. The price quoted in the press of [$31,795] for an entire battery is not indicative of the actual cost. It is an extrapolation of the individual price of replacing a single battery multiplied by 48. The cost of a conventional engine and transmission built up from individually sourced parts would be similarly high”