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

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

“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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