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If a report in the Times of London is accurate, it would go a long way toward explaining Nissan's claims that the Leaf electric car will be profitable at just $33,000. The report, which focuses mainly on Nissan executive Andy Palmer, states that the 24 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack for the EV costs only £6,000 (about $9,000) to produce. That works out to just $375 per kWh, a figure that no one else in the industry is currently claiming is possible.

Most cost estimates for current automotive lithium ion batteries are in the $1,000-1,200 / kWh range. General Motors has not revealed the cost of the battery for the Chevrolet Volt, but executives have hinted at a production cost of approximately $600 / kWh. The U.S. Advanced Battery consortium has a target of $400 by mid-decade.

If Nissan is truly able to produce the Leaf battery at such a low cost, that would be a major breakthrough. Unlike the Volt's pack and some other batteries, which are liquid cooled, Nissan is using air cooling for the Leaf pack which would reduce cost a bit but certainly not anywhere close to these figures. Nissan has not yet responded to a request for further comment.

[Source: Times of London]


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  • 85 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      "But if you read the headline of this blog entry, it is all about price."

      You're right Dave, it is. It appears Nissan is producing batteries at a price per Kwh that is way below what was thought even possible currently.

      Its big news for the EV/EREV push, with expectations to significantly reduce that even more in a couple of years.

      "My comments are on-topic."

      I didn't say your comments were off topic or wrong (although your assumptions of $3 gallon gasoline in perpetuity and being able to get a $13k car loaded like a Leaf is highly suspect).

      I just said that for the people who will buy these kinds of cars, the sliderule "you could buy a Geo-Metro for less" angle just won't matter - just as it doesn't matter for 95% of the existing auto market in the US.

      Most people don't shop based on that (otherwise nobody would buy new cars at all, as used ones are a much better value) - and the people who will buy EV's / EREV's won't buy based on that comparison either. Cheers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is what happens when you abandon ALL research into electric vehicles for 10 years. GM decided to do just that with its EV1. On Star and the EV1 are the only truly innovative things GM has done in 50 years.

      Now the auto makers that decided to crush their electric vehicles are playing catch up. They have no information base, They have no idea what the batteries are capable of. And have to start new research programs to determine that.

      Some have taken the fools road and backed hydrogen. Hydrogen is just going to be so expensive in the long run, to the tune of $13 a gallon equivalent gasoline price (based on my driving habits),. They're going to have to spend many billions to get the costs down to the level of battery powered electric cars, both the infrastructure and vehicles.

      Now here comes Nissan who kept up the research. Ready to produce an electric car when the inevitable point in time when oil prices are no longer tolerable. They can bring in a battery pack for 1/3 the cost .
        • 2 Months Ago
        while it's true that GM et al were complete assholes to fight against EVs, let's not buy the easy PR lies that nissan has put out. they are just as guilty as the rest of the world's automakers. they have just had a slightly better reaction since the EV revolution started in 2006 than for instance GM.
        Nissan didn't plan any EV propulsion before 2006. they reacted to who killed the electric car, an inconvenient truth and the tesla roadster just as all the other douches did and started largely from scratch.

        of all the big automakers Nissan is probably the one that best understand the super obvious fact that the car future is all electric but they were not prepared. and even Nissan is very much still holding back.
        but peak oil next year will focus their sheep minds.
        • 2 Months Ago
        "Nissan didn't plan any EV propulsion before 2006. they reacted to who killed the electric car, an inconvenient truth and the tesla roadster just as all the other douches did and started largely from scratch."

        That's just wrong. This achievement - the battery pack and the Leaf - are a result of Nissan's dedication to continually improving their EV program.

        http://green.autoblog.com/photos/history-of-nissan-ev-stamps/full/
      • 4 Years Ago
      If that is confirmed that is very impressive. Electric motoring is here!

      For the price of an optional extra you could upgrade a hybrids all electric range to 10 or 20 miles (~3 miles /kWh)
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wouldn't be surprised at that number, these figures of 1000-1200 are way out of line.
        • 4 Years Ago
        no need to be surprised either. I told you so :)

        I also said that if they do weight optimization of the car using fiber composite and aero optimization they could do with half the pack. or in this case 4500$.

        I also said that lithium will fall in price still and relatively soon. probably to around 2000$ for such a pack.
        a 200MPGe electric 4 seater can be cheaper than current low cost cars while quicker than a ferrari.
        and of course I was right. I am right. I am always right biatches : )
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually you can buy LIFePO batteries for even less than that. Here are ThunderSky batteries for $343/kWh.

        http://evcomponents.com/cscart/index.php?dispatch=categories.view&category_id=171
        Julian
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree. that 1000-1200/kWh is current non-volume retail pricing. Check ebay.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It bears mentioning that these Nissan batteries, like all those fielded by the big boys, are expensive only because they're proprietary. That's a BIG factor that's never been raised to my knowledge in the press. You can get retail price commodity Life-Po batteries for less than that so it's a given that wholesale prices are far less.

        The problem...

        Is that the big boys don't like commodity. Not as profitable at sale. Not as profitable to service and replace over the life of the car.... Sound familiar?
      • 4 Years Ago
      1000$/KWh is the price of batteries including their profit! The same way you pay thousands of dollars more for bigger engines, when the actual production cost is only marginally higher than smaller engines.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "it would go a long way toward explaining Nissan's claims that the Leaf electric car will be profitable at just $33,000."

      Unfortunately, thats still $20,000 more than a comparable ICE vehicle. (And $20,000 buys 200,000 miles worth of gas at 30 mpg and $3 per gallon)

      And it doesn't include the cost of installing a 220 volt charger.

      It also doesn't change the fact that the range will probably be
        • 2 Months Ago
        Thats where Better Place comes in

        If you take the real price of the battery (likely to be 12K dollars) off, then its a 20K car. The price per mile BP states (Joe Paluska of BP) is 8 cents a mile, or less if you are a high mileage driver. Then you are immune to the vagaries of the oil market where prices will triple the next time there's a Gulf crisis (I predict november of this year) and no range anxiety due to battary swap stations.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why buy all that gas? That's just pissing your money away.

        After you consider maintenance costs of an ICE vehicle over 200,000 miles, the break-even point with the Leaf falls way below 200,000 miles.

        Also, the Leaf is no way comparable to a $13k vehicle. That's simply unfounded. It is MUCH better equipped than my former 2004 Scion xA when it was new, and the MSRP in 2004 was over $15k. I averaged 36.7 mpg for the 24k miles I owned it (bought it used in 2007, traded it in for a Mariner hybrid in 2010).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dave,

        If you spec out even a Versa to as close as possible comparable levels of equiptment to the standard LEAF (CVT, alloys, nav, bluetooth, premium stereo, etc.), it comes in over $20,000. Add in that the LEAF is larger in every dimension (similar to a tall Megane 5 door hatch), has a far more premium interior, more power, 4 wheel disks, and additional equiment not available on the Versa, and you are realistically looking at a car in the mid 20's for a comparable gas car. If you spec out a Prius with alloys, solar panel, remote start, navigation, LED headlights, etc. ($34,529), it is actually a little more than the LEAF SL- even before credits... and the LEAF is a larger car. If you try to get a comparably equipted TDI Golf/Jetta wagon, there are a lot of things missing, but you are still in the $28,000+ range. Realistically, the LEAF is about the same price as a comparably equipted gasoline car after rebates and around the same price as a comparable hybrid before rebates, with a diesel splitting the difference. Figure total cost of ownership with dramatically reduced energy cost and virtually no maintenance, and the LEAF comes out ahead (more than covering the cost of an occaisional car rental if you want to go more than 100 miles at a time).
        • 4 Years Ago
        PS -

        The Rhode Island sales tax (ouch -7%) on $20,000 would buy 14,000 miles worth of gas at 30 mpg, $3 per gallon.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So negative Dave? $20,000 more than a comparable ICE car? First off, you seem to be forgeting the incentives for the moment... unless you are a $5000 car compareable? (Indian Tata Nano anyone?) However, even if we eliminate the incentive, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a $13,000 car that with comparable features to the LEAF. Built in Nav system... heated seats and steering wheel etc.

        All of this ignores the best feature of the car however... it doesn't require any gas or oil, doesn't require the military support/protection of our fuel supply (not cheap) and makes no pollution if powered by "green power". Find me an ICE that can do that.

        Finally, your gas price estimates make the assumption that gas/oil will both always be available, and be priced at about $3 per gallon for the next 10 years or so. I'd recommend some research into "peak oil", as both these assumptions both might turn out to be false. BP isn't drilling in 5000 feet of water to obtain oil for fun and to make headlines... its drilling there because the era of easily obtained/cheap oil is coming to a close.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "But if you read the headline of this blog entry, it is all about price."

        You're right Dave, it is. It appears Nissan is producing batteries at a price per Kwh that is way below what was thought even possible currently.

        Its big news for the EV/EREV push, with expectations to significantly reduce that even more in a couple of years.

        "My comments are on-topic."

        I didn't say your comments were off topic or wrong (although your assumptions of $3 gallon gasoline in perpetuity and being able to get a $13k car loaded like a Leaf is highly suspect).

        I just said that for the people who will buy these kinds of cars, the sliderule "you could buy a Geo-Metro for less" angle just won't matter - just as it doesn't matter for 95% of the existing auto market in the US.

        Most people don't shop based on that (otherwise nobody would buy new cars at all, as used ones are a much better value) - and the people who will buy EV's / EREV's won't buy based on that comparison either. Cheers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The real test will be this summer and next for the next ten years.
        Chinese auto sales jumped 40% year-over-year.
        China still importing gas.

        Why isn't anyone comparing the cost of a V8 400hp Mustang GT to this car?

        How far will a GT run in a Fuel Crisis? I'm thinking ZERO miles.
        I'm thinking a GT get's put up on blocks at $4 gas.
        What's the payback period for the GT? Never.

        Here's a question.
        What real gas mileage do GT drivers get? 5 mpg?
        How many zero-60 runs do you get before you run out of gas?

        These are some of the questions Trolls should answer.

        How about this?
        Is it INSANE for the US Pickup Truck market to be selling 300 hp Pickups, with a future fuel crisis just around the corner?

        Who decided to ship all US manufacturing jobs to China?
        The "Walmart-Republicans"?
        Why didn't we get a vote on job losses to China?

        • 4 Years Ago
        The people buying EV's or EREV's won't be buying them because their cheaper to buy/run than a Yaris (just like 95% of the rest of the automobile market in the US).

        They'll be buying them for other reasons more important to the purchasers (perhaps no/little oil/gas and/or no/little CO2 etc.) and the whole sliderule "it isn't cheaper" argument just doesn't matter. Works the same with most automobiles in the market - that's why the cheapest solutions don't sell much in comparison.

        This is really impressive if they've done this for cost. Beyond this Nissan has said (and GM as well) they expect cell capacity to double in a couple of years - won't cut this price in half but will take a pretty big bite out of it again. Awesome.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why do you repeatedly use $3/gallon? That is completely bogus. That is less than I pay now and WAAAAY less than I will be paying in the future.

        You are really distorting the facts.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Your interpretation of the math is distorted. If you're comparing apples to apples, you need to take the price of the battery amortized over the life of the battery, minus the value of the recycled pack (adding in the cost of the electricity consumed) and compare that to the value of the fuel consumed in the same period of time for a gas powered vehicle of equal performance. The cost of the car is irrelevant, we're comparing fuel costs; it's fuel vs battery. Oh, and don't forget the cost of a gas tank! :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        I believe the Leaf will be better appointed than any car you can buy (new) for $13k.

        This pricing may not be a game ender, but I can't agree with you statement that it's not a game changer.
        • 2 Months Ago
        The Leaf looks like a premium car in the segment, though. It includes pretty much every option in the book. They do charge $1k extra for some fun but silly options like the backup camera and solar cells for accessory power. That's pretty reasonable and I would probably pay it.

        I'd consider it roughly equivalent to the VW Golf TDI, which is about $27k with a navigation system and automatic transmission which are both effectively(*) standard in the base Leaf. So the difference is only about $6k.

        If you take the difference of $6k, subtract the $7,500 tax credit and add the $1,000 odd for the fancy gadget package (it's less than that but I don't remember exactly how much), you are going to be a little cheaper than the Golf, and the Golf has no rear view camera nor solar powered accessory charger.

        I would call that very aggressive pricing by any standard.

        Aside from all that, this car is cool. It features innovative technology and a fresh look at things. Think "affordable version of a Tesla Roadster" and all of a sudden it looks pretty darn cheap.

        D

        (*) Navigation system standard, electric cars have no manual transmission equivalent.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If only we'd pay the true price of oil: including the tax money going into the military, the tax money going towards tax breaks on the oil companies (Exxon does not pay a dime in taxes in the US), the tax money going to secure the US from all the activities financed with oil money, the tax money not staying in the US (no jobs) because they pay for foreign oil instead of locally produced energy. Not to speak of the environmental damage, pollution and health effects burning oil produces.
        Guess how much is the real price of oil and then consider whether the Leaf is a game changer or not...
        An ICE is cheaper, or so it seems, but it comes at a very high cost in the long term. I would like to be part of the solution and not the problem and I'll get a Leaf as soon as they'll be available in Canada.
        BipDBo
        • 4 Years Ago
        This is the first fully electric mass produced electric car with real market viability, so yes, this is a big deal. Don't forget that before the Model T, there were several car companies, but when compared to the economics of a horse and buggy, they were just too expensive for the common man.

        Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile, but he did bring it to the people through economies of scale and the efficiency of the assembly line.

        News stories like this verify that electric vehicle components are quickly gaining momentum and manufacturing scale, even before mass introduction to the market! I am an engineer, and not an economist, but I predict that this is a trend that will dramatically increase upon market introduction and eventually bring the cost of an electric vehicle to even lower than a ICE, which is incredibly complex and manufacturing intensive.
        • 4 Years Ago
        People who are the most cost-sensitive buy *used* cars. In five years you will be able to buy a used BEV for $13,000 or less.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dave, your assertion that since this posts headline is all about price, so you are on topic with this - would apply equally well if I said that walmart sometimes sells candy bars near the checkout for only 50 cents... which is quite a bit cheaper than most other stores.
        Still about price you see... and only slightly more out of line with the topic than what you have been talking about.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ....less than 50 miles on a cold rainy night with the high beams, heater/defroster, and radio on.
        • 4 Years Ago
        PS -

        The interest on the $20,000 (5 years at 5%) would buy over 26,000 miles worth of gas at 30 mpg and $3 per gallon.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Matt,

        If you take the 120,000 mile estimated life of the battery and divide by $7000 (if you figure the residual is only $2000) and $2880 for (5 miles per kWh @ $.12 per kWh)... you end up with about 12 miles per $. If you figure $4/gallon, that is the equivalent of a 48 mpg car that has no maintenance cost. Roughly based on Edmonds maintenance would add another ~$6000 to the price of the gas car over 120,000 miles... So with the EV, you come out ahead.
        • 4 Years Ago
        1) $13,000 for the ICE vehicle? What kind of piece of crap is that?
        2) $3/gallon? Gas is more than $3/gallon right now where I live.
        3) $3/gallon in the future? LOL! Gas prices are going up. Waaaaay up.
        4) $7500 tax credit
        5) Much lower maintenance costs . . . no oil changes, less brake maintenance, no exhaust system, no tune-ups, etc.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Totally agree with you, Dave.

        However you must admit that this is the best option we've seen thus far.
        Electrics are coming along. They do not replace an ICE car yet.

        But hell, at least we can buy a decent one now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "The people buying EV's or EREV's won't be buying them because their cheaper to buy/run than a Yaris (just like 95% of the rest of the automobile market in the US). "

        I understand that.

        But if you read the headline of this blog entry, it is all about price.

        My comments are on-topic.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Its impressive but not a game changer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hi

      Take a look here - http://www.batteryspace.com/lifepo4prismaticmodule32v200ah3crate640whceunapproved.aspx

      LiFePO4 Prismatic Module: 3.2V 200 Ah, 3C Rate (640 wh), CE Approved (60.0) = $324.00(101 to 500)

      so 1 kWh = 500$ which is about 12000$ for a 24 kWh LiFePO4 battery
      • 4 Years Ago
      -Unfortunately, thats still $20,000 more than a comparable ICE vehicle

      What $13K car is comparable to the Nissan Leaf?

      And can you just condense all your points in one post so you don't flood the first page. Its not like they're each worth their own post.
        • 2 Months Ago
        I can condense for him:

        He just chose the one of the cheapest 4 seat, highway capable car that can be sold in the U.S. because he wants to make a point.

      • 4 Years Ago
      It may (or may not) be an economic dead cert to get a Leaf in the USA based on current gas prices, but in many parts of the world (including the UK) gas is already *plenty* expensive enough to make the Leaf have a lower TCO even *if* gas prices do not rise over the next ten years, which is doubtful. As for the cost of the packs, it shouldn't be so surprising, it's approx what Nissan said they would be many many months ago.

      I can't wait to get my Leaf :-)
      • 4 Years Ago
      $375 per kWh is pretty impressive! The Leaf is pretty shortlegged, but for a town car it will work well. I really wonder about how the lack of pack conditioning will affect the life of the battery, but the Leaf is a great start for Nissan and for anyone that wants to get off oil. They have put years of effort into their battery development, I wonder if they will continue to see steady drops in price or if the competition will close the gap, or both?
      If GM can get their pack price down from $600 per kWh to $400 it will reduce the probable MSRP from around $37,000 to $34,000, which with the tax credit makes it almost make sense financially.
      I am curious to see what the $43,000 (in Japan) IMiev will sell for in the US. If they get the price under $30,000 even the short range will look endearing rather than irritating. It is what it is. It looks like the IMiev will have a 16 kWh pack so the drop in prices will help but not as much as it will for cars with bigger packs.
      Great days, Nissan seems to be leading the pack on the price war. I can't wait to see what cars will be coming out in the next few years as pack prices continue to drop!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Impressive if true. I am still concerned about the lack of battery cooling for low speed driving (city) in the dead of Summer. Think Arizona or Florida in July.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Won't the batteries / motor be using a fraction of its rated power?
        Same way an ICE doesn't overheat under low load?
        • 2 Months Ago
        "My Porsche's oil temperature climbs when sitting in traffic, and goes down when accelerating down a highway."

        Luckily, electric vehicles do not idle... so they don't have that problem
        • 2 Months Ago
        Air cooling doesn't mean needing airflow from moving down a road.

        I am sure there is a fan that runs while charging... like the Tesla.

        -------------------------

        Here are some quick and dirty numbers.

        A gas engine typically consumes about 0.25 gallons per hour at idle. 1 gallon is 34 kwh.
        So 8.5 kwh per hour = 8.5 kw are consumed while at idle.
        About half the heat goes out the tailpipe. So lets assume 4 kw of power is wasted as heat that goes to the coolant.

        Leaf's 6.6 KW charger is maybe 90% efficient and at the very least 80% efficient so only as much as 1.3 kw of power is heat that needs to be removed.

        I think a simple fan will do fine under charging. Assuming Nissan's battery chemistry has a good operating temp range.

        While discharging, even at 95% efficiency at the pack, the 90 kw max power of the pack can really add up to a lot of heat. Over 4.5 kw of power is lost to heat if 95% efficient. If less efficient, that means a hotter pack. And don't forget as heat rises, damage rises exponentially.

        But while discharging at max power (uphill, max speed), there is plenty of wind so I hope they engineered some ducts underneath to the pack.

        -------------

        *note: I do understand that an engine is larger and therefore can get rid of heat faster than a smaller sized object like a battery pack. And that an engine is okay with remaining much hotter than a battery would like to be.

        But these are some quick numbers to show that heat is easily manageable when charging.
        • 2 Months Ago
        The battery will likely produce the most heat when charging (especially from a public 500V 125Amp quick-charging station).

        "Same way an ICE doesn't overheat under low load?"
        That's not always true. My Porsche's oil temperature climbs when sitting in traffic, and goes down when accelerating down a highway.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Nissan is using a more stable spinel structure than its competitors (that use a different chemistry), so air cooling can work with less complexity, less cost, less weight, fewer moving parts, fewer things to go wrong, less maintenance...

        Air cooling under the car gets the job done:
        http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/tags/show/photos#/leaf-electric-car/gallery/view/car/12
        • 2 Months Ago
        It's all about airflow. My ICE heats up while idling because there's little airflow to cool it. Charging is the Leaf's equivalent to idling - it's producing heat with little airflow to cool it.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Um, they also don't have OIL!
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