• Nov 30th 2009 at 11:55AM
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2010 Nissan Leaf - Click above for high-res image gallery

If the ranges offered by the upcoming Nissan and Renault electric cars aren't as long as you'd like, you'll be pleased to learn they should double by 2015. Nissan is just about done developing an energy storage cell that has twice the capacity of their current batteries. Focusing their research efforts on the positive electrode, they have added cobalt and nickel to the manganese they already use which yields them a (breathe) lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide cathode battery or, if you like, NMC for short. This would only be marginally good news if the cost of the new power pack also doubled but we're assured that this is not the case. The manufacturing process is quite similar and the expensive cobalt is used quite sparingly so the outlay should be close to that of their current chemistry. This all fits in with Nissan's electric vehicle introduction strategy.

Nissan isn't the only company developing NMC either. Other battery-makers working with the same materials are said to include Panasonic, Sanyo, Hitachi, GS Yuasa, Samsung, EnerDel, Kokam, Evonik/Litarion, Enax, and Imara. With such a dramatic increase only a few short years away, we can't help but wonder how this may effect attitudes towards battery leasing models in the near term. Relieve our curiosity with your comments after the break.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a horrendous photoshop job!! Why bother!?
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'll believe it when I see it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I greatly enjoy how Nissan is light years ahead of everybody else in the auto industry. Way to go Nissan.
        • 8 Months Ago
        And to further his point Nissan is the first company to progress in this wonderful thing called evolution. See Nissan has evolved to have BALLS and a BACKBONE, something that none of the other auto makers seem to even know about.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Well you are missing the bigger picture. When the LEAF is released next year, it will be the first mass produced BEV, and that will place them in a position to:

        Gain the most experience.
        Have the most matured BEV production technology.
        License said technology to other automakers.
        Attain the trust of consumers

        As you can see, akin Toyota is of hybrids today, Nissan-Renault will be bedrock of BEVs.
        • 8 Months Ago

        They put an electric motor and some batteries in a car. It's been done before (a hundred years ago).

        They're anticipating future batteries will be better.

        Good for them, but I don't see anything that makes them light years ahead of the rest of the industry.
      • 8 Months Ago
      This would be good news, indeed. Hope Nissan can do it! And this is just the beginning. Imagine what will emerge by 2020 and beyond.

      On the topic of leasing, as I have tried to tell Nissan in their Leaf "chats," in our U.S. culture we prefer to possess our possessions --even if it doesn't make practical or economic sense. We are pretty obsessive about the adjective "mine."

      Yes, Nissan wants to make it easier to maintain, repair, replace, and upgrade the batteries by retaining ownership of them, but in reality... they can still accomplish the same thing with warranties and trade-ins.
        • 8 Months Ago

        I am inclined to agree. However, I would argue that commercialism has taken a nasty turn in America some decades ago.

        Americans only "think" they own something. But most do not. They "buy" a car rather than lease it. But the bank still owns it for an average of 5 more years.

        They "buy" a house. But they pay the mortgage to the bank. The bank owns it for 10, 20 or even 30 years or more.

        Unless you pay cash for everything (less than 15% of Americans), then you aren't owning. Debt is slavery. And our economic woes today are a sign of that.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Lets hope there is an upgrade path for the first generation cars as the batteries are improve and you are not stuck with a 100 mile range on the older models.
      • 5 Years Ago

      Please fire whoever photoshopped that. Horrible.
        • 8 Months Ago
        photoshop fail at an embarrassing degree. I can't even read the article now.
        • 8 Months Ago
        This gives me an idea. Start a streched leaf service to compete against streched limos.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Sorry about that, it's definitely not my best work. Perhaps I should take a class. Or two.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Haha.. see these are the comments we make when we assume nobody's reading/caring.
        Well, don't overextend ( ha ha, get it? i made a pun ) yourself in the photoshop department until then, buddy :)
      • 8 Months Ago
      I think I still would like to buy the batteries to reduce the monthly costs.

      But the car should be affordable, so if that means I'll have to lease the batteries, that's okay with me too, as long as this also means it's at a reasonable price !
      • 8 Months Ago
      Lithium Titanate:
      'Altairnano, a small firm based in Reno, Nevada, has announced a nano-sized titanate electrode material for lithium-ion batteries. It is claimed the prototype battery has three times the power output of existing batteries and can be fully charged in six minutes. However, total energy capacity per cell is about half that of normal lithium-ion cells. The company also says the battery cells have now achieved a life of over 9,000 charge cycles while still retaining up to 85% charge capacity. Durability and battery life are therefore much longer, estimated to be around 20 years, or four times longer than regular lithium-ion batteries.'

        • 8 Months Ago
        The Altairnano batteries have some great characteristics: cycle life, charge time and safety. However, their energy density is very low (I believe only about 100Wh/kg or even less) so they are not the best choice in the world for vehicles.

        But your point is well taken that the different lithium chemistries can have vastly different characteristics. In general though, Joe is correct that most of today's viable lithium batteries (at least for vehicle applications) suffer some shelf life and/or cycle life issues.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Dave D,
        You are quite correct about the low energy density of lithium titanium, indeed it is mentioned in the quote I gave.

        I don't know if nickel manganese cobalt lithium batteries last beyond 10 years or not, in the configuration that AESC are using.

        It occurs to me though that if they do rarely last no more than 10 years, it would not be optimal to double battery capacity, as that would give you around 200k miles to 'spend' in only 10 years, and if you do 20k miles a year it is likely that you would often need to travel more than 200 miles in a day as your would likely be a road warrior.
        A more economic configuration in this case would be to buy battery power for 150,000 miles, so you can do around 15k miles a year.
        That reduces your daily max range to 150 miles, but is the better buy and obviously both your purchase price and the weight of the vehicle would be reduced.
        All of this reasoning of course makes some pretty sweeping assumptions as to the actual shape of the curve of battery ratte of decline and so on, but I present it as a kind of 'least hypothesis'

        To recap, if the battery is indeed unlikely to last beyond 10 years, it is more economic to settle for a smaller battery and reduced range of 150 miles a day rather than go for a 200 mile range.

        This is anyway the type of figure that the VW group is shooting for - they talk about EV's becoming practical with a 200km range, I believe.
      • 8 Months Ago
      What does this mean for battery lifetime?
      We are told:
      'It is robust enough for practical use, able to withstand 1,000 or so charge cycles.'

      If we assume that the price is low enough that we can get double the range then that means that the 48kwh battery will last perhaps 200,000 miles, as opposed to perhaps 100,000 miles for the current 24kwh Leaf battery.

      If you travel the average distance of around 12,500 miles a year then the battery should last about 16 years, instead of only 8 in the 2011 Leaf.
      This means that the battery pretty much covers the life of the car, so you don't need to worry about replacement costs.

      I've made some pretty heroic assumptions regarding the characteristics of the battery in respect of part charging, life regardless of whether it is charged at all, and so on, but on the most naive extrapolation it sounds as though battery life would no longer be a consideration for customers.
        • 8 Months Ago
        All the variants of Li-ion? Sounds a bit too sweeping to me - what about some of the variants that haven't been tried yet?

        Here is one lithium battery at any rate with a claimed shelf life of 15 years:
        And a bit of more generalised commentary:

        It should be noted that the cooling systems, charging systems etc in cars are going to be a lot more sophisticated than that used in many current applications, laptops, cameras etc.

        I'm not saying that they will last 15 years or more in cars, but perhaps given some swapping out for faulty cells perhaps it is not quite impossible a priori for all chemistry variants.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Cycle life may improve... but Li-Ion batteries (including variations in chemistry) ALL suffer from Shelf life durability.

        It's like Logan's Run. After ten years, the light starts blinking.

        Not to say a battery couldn't last over 10 years, but every year over will see more and more degradation regardless of improved cycle durability.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yes, point well taken.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cool now these batteries are only 20X less energy dense than biodiesel! Where do I sign up!?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Comparing apples to suspension bridges again?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Hi Brandon,

        Yeah, diesel packs the energy from almost 100 TONS of ancient biological material from 100's of millions of years ago in each gallon -- great. It's renewable if you are willing to wait another couple o' hundred million years to replenish it.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Twice the capacity of their current batteries. . . Somebody remind me, what kind of batteries are they using now?
        • 8 Months Ago
        They are using Li-Ion with around 100 mile range, iirc.

        Remember though that they are also wanting to lease the battery systems, make them proprietary, so they're not doing anyone any favors. If the free market can survive there will be even greater improvements of battery packs from third parties, without the ridiculous leasing scam.
        • 8 Months Ago

        The batteries in an EV would be proprietary regardless of whether they are leased or sold to the buyer/driver.

        It will be A VERY LONG TIME before BEV batteries are non-proprietary and 3rd party manufacturers can start selling them.
        • 8 Months Ago
        They are now using lithium-based cell with a manganese spinel anode.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Unless this article is based on information that I have not been able to ferret out, it is not entirely clear if the info that the battery has 'similar' costs to the present chemistry means that it is similar in price per kilogra, in which case you could indeed double the range at the same cost, or what they mean is that the price is similar per kwh of storage, in which case you would be able to lighten the weight of the batteries but not double range at any reasonable cost.
      Hopefully it is the former.
      I would be grateful for definitive information on the subject if anyone knows.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Joe, I certainly hope that this enables double the range at the same cost, but I haven't seen wording in any of the releases that nail this down.
        Perhaps you have?
        Link appreciated if you have one - I will Google again to see what I can dig out - no luck so far.
        • 8 Months Ago
        It looks like they claim to double the kwh/kg (energy density) using almost the same chemistry of normal Li-Ion batteries so everything else remains the same.

        That means an EV maker could either:

        Double the range like Nissan while keeping the same cost.
        Half the weight while halving the battery cost while keeping the same range.

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