• Jun 15th 2010 at 8:01AM
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Nissan Leaf battery pack – Click above for high-res image gallery

Expansion is in the immediate future for Nissan's joint battery venture Automotive Energy Supply Corp (AESC). According to a report from Jiji Press in Japan, AESC will almost immediately double its production of li-ion batteries from the planned amount of 54,000 annually to the new target of 90,000 per annum.

The increase comes because Leaf pre-orders are rolling in at a steady rate, now eclipsing 20,000. AESC will add an additional production line at its facility in Zama, Japan to facilitate the increase in li-ion battery production. It's not just the Leaf that drives the need for more batteries though. Nissan will launch three additional EVs within the next few years and partner Renault is scheduled to add four of its own. Nissan and Renault continue to impress with their bullish outlook, but 90,000 batteries is still a far cry from the 500,000 number tossed around before.


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Photos by Sebastian Blanco / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: Jiji Press via Green Car Advisor]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      • 8 Months Ago
      David Martin is right, Mr. Loveday needs to read this (or do a search) on this site before putting up the 90,000 number like its the end. The US factory (where they have already broken ground) starts production in 2012 will have a 200,000 capacity on opening, the European factory for batts, which will start production in 2013 will add to that. Personally I doubt we'll see 500,000 till we get closer to 2015 - but 300,000 a year by 2012 (200,000 US + 90,000 Japan) is already being built.

      This is a good indication that Nissan is feeling there is "demand" for EV/EREV vehicles, good for them.
      • 8 Months Ago
      '90,000 batteries is still a far cry from the 500,000 number tossed around before.'

      What is this nonsense? The 90,000 figure is for Japanese battery production, and does not include the new factories that are being built in Europe and the US.
      The 500,000 figure estimated before is increased by this announcement, not decreased.

      I believe Renault also plans an electric version of the Twingo, in addition to the 4 new models, and so plan at least 5 electric cars.
      • 8 Months Ago
      strike that, it's actually 17million cells per year. 50000 cells per day including weekends. gotta be some kind of mass production. must be cheap already
      • 8 Months Ago
      @hemperez,
      Thanks for your interesting analysis of battery production costs.
      Would you specify the source? And how many of these cells are needed per kwh?
      I have not followed Tesla and the 18650 cells closely.
      Thanks.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Did you notice how that "baseline of $706/kwh" 10 year old number matches what that Nissan guy (the Nissan US CEO) said was the cost of the battery today?.. thats why I think he was just talking bull.. I think they are much closer to the $250 number. Too much coincidence.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Joe,
        Maybe the precise scenario's were unrealistic, but what surprised me when I ran the numbers is that the EV range extender did pretty well as well as doubling the range with a more powerful battery.
        Although the precise scenarios may be inaccurate, for a City run-about there are a lot of occasions when people are doing a lot of short trips, and they are not going to want to plug in at every stop, even if a point is available.
        So I don't think that spending several hours driving with breaks is unrealistic - I've done it umpteen times myself, on business, having to go from one location to another, none of them a great distance apart, but each needing some time to sort out whatever was going on at that place before driving on to the next job.

        As for not recommending any solution where you have less than 100 miles nominal, 50 for the bottom line, I reckon it fits the usual 80:20 picture.
        So on most of most people's journeys 25 miles in the worst circumstances, usually a lot more, would cover them fine.
        None of this is ideal, of course, and we would all like a 35kw extender on a 100 mile nominal range car, but I reckon with petrol going through the roof in price and electric cars still fairly expensive, together with our master's brilliant handling of the economy, we are going to have to compromise heavily.
        In fact, I think most will be glad of a covered electric scooter with a range of 25 miles like the Land Glider before we are done.

        The issue is for me that although Leaf-type specs will suit many, there are vast numbers for whom they present problems, in everything from cost to range, and if the pressure from oil prices are as great going forward as I suspect, we need other solutions to go with the pure BV.
        • 8 Months Ago
        For the "stuck in traffic" scenarios listed:
        A 5kw Enerfuel range extender would be nothing more than a power supply to run the A/C or Heater.

        Those scenarios were unrealistic. 8 hours sitting in traffic on your way to work (with the A/C blasting) is the only way to run out of range. Or 4 hours sitting in traffic in freezing cold weather (with the heater blasting).

        The range estimates seem low because of the focus on the whole number. But not on the situation.

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

        I would not recommend any pure BEV be less than 100 mile nominal. The range variations swing too wildly. A commuter needs twice their daily average distance at the very least.

        If a PHEV... sure 40 miles would do great (Chevy Volt). But the R/E needs to be able to handle highway cruising too.

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

        I would like to see a 5 KW fuel cell range extender that can be hand carried and placed in the trunk. It could be sold (or rented) during extremes of weather. I prefer methanol/LPG/CNG fuel cells though. In such small capacity but such high density, they won't require stations or large compressors. People could fill up like propane tanks.

        • 8 Months Ago
        @Joe,
        part of it is just different markets.
        In the UK we do around a third less miles on average than in the US, and cold weather is unusual, so the cost-benefit ratio is different - we would normally get nearer the nominal range, and normally travel less far.
        If your mileage is very low, of course it is not worth getting an EV anyway, but there would be a lot less here with a 40 mile commute than in the US, at any rate by car.
        Japanese average mileage is only around 7,500 miles a year, so this would apply still more to them.
        A 50 mile or so nominal battery range with some sort of extender makes a lot of sense in those circumstances.
        Even the Prius plug in with around 13.5 miles of electric range does pretty well.
        If you were Japanese, would it be worth paying a lot extra for more batteries when you are only doing a couple of thousand miles/year on petrol,with about 5,500 covered by electric?
        • 8 Months Ago
        http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/149.pdf

        Costs of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Vehicles by the Argonne Labs.

        Note that it mostly covers the laminated "pouch" cells used in the LEAF and Volt, very interesting paper and also shows you how cells are made. The chart I posted was an example of a highly automated production line.
        • 8 Months Ago
        No doubt David.

        I think the PHEV type that GM is doing will be the new standard gap filler. Where range and/or environmental considerations make even a 100 mile runabout difficult to cope with.

        50 miles AER for 90% of driving needs. And a R/E to handle the rest. Whether CNG/gasoline/ or Fuel cell, it won't matter. As long as it is available when needed.

        • 8 Months Ago
        @hemperez
        Thanks for the link.
        I note:
        ' It can be seen that major breakthroughs not envisioned here, perhaps including totally different active materials or designs, would be required to meet the commercialization goal of $150/kWh and the long-term battery cost goal of under $100/kWh.'

        Which fits in with the argument I have been making here that getting much under $200kwh will be tough.

        A 200 mile nominal range EV would need ~50kwh of batteries, costing around $10k, barring a real breakthrough.

        In the thread 'Nissan Leaf range 47-138miles' I linked to this site:
        http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2010/06/nissan-agrees---ev-mileage-will-vary-leaf-tests-show-91-mile-variation.html

        And argued that for the scenarios given a car using a 5kw Enerfuel range extender would do at least as well as a 200 mile nominal range in all scenarios bar the one where the car is doing 55mph for 70 miles, or for a 200 mile nominal Leaf, 140 miles, where the car with a range extender would do around 100.
        Of course, in a different scenario to those presented, where the car is going at highway speeds of 70 mph for as long as possible, neither would dovery well, with the Leaff with a nominal 200 mile range getting perhaps 100 miles, still a lot better than one with a RE at perhaps 60 miles or so.

        The RE also suffers from the considerable disadvantage that it does not exist, and considerable progress is needed if it is ever to do so.

        Just the same my own thoughts would centre on a car with a much smaller battery rather than a larger, with a nominal range of perhaps 50 miles rather than 100, which would still cover most general running about, supplemented bya booster of some sort, preferably a HT range extender burning petrol, but if needs be anything from a Lotus range extender to a hydrogen plug in.
        The battery costs would then be around $2,500, leaving $7,500 to play with.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Since price is set by production volume.... and right now, Nissan is producing less than 100 packs per year. I would say it IS accurate to use the "baseline" price (for now).

        When they are producing 100,000 battery packs per year... the price goes rapidly south.

        Since, in economics, we must use the price at time of purchase... it seems proper to use the $375/kwh price. That is the price set at full volume production. And that is the volume that the Leaf is selling at.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Battery Type - Baseline - Optimistic - Goal
        High-Energy Li-Ion (35 kWh) - $706/kWh ($24,723) - $250/kWh ($8,767) - >$150/kWh

        That paper was from 10 years ago.

        Established a baseline for $706/kwh

        Now, 10 years later, the "optimistic" price is getting close to reality. And very quickly. $250/kwh

      • 8 Months Ago
      At 90,000 packs a year, as the economies of scale start to appear, I wonder what Nissan's true cost to build each kWh will drop to? If they are around $450 per kWh now, figuring the 24 kWh pack costs $11,000 (+- $1000) will their packs be produced for $400 per kWh ($9600) or even $350 ($8400)? Or will they do the more likely response and keep the price where it is and sell the Leaf with a 28 kWh battery pack and get a real world 100 mile AER?
      There are plenty of LiIon batteries out there that sell for less than $500, but not in a automotive quality pack. It will be interesting to see if GM, Ford, Mini and BMW will be able to get their pack prices down fairly quickly. Interesting times.
        • 8 Months Ago
        at 1.8million cells a years, which is what they are talking about, I think scale has happened already.
        I figure it was more like 300$/kWh amortized factory cost and now maybe well under 250.
        but with big initial investments it's not just about right now, it's projected maybe 8 years ahead. otherwise the first cell would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
        I wouldn't be surprised if their per unit extra cost is below 150$/kWh right now. nor less than 100$
        a kWh battery is about 10kg. out of which lithium is around 130g. which cost 1$ in commodity, maybe 2$ as prepared chemical. the rest is iron, graphite, phosphor, this and that.

        Bob Lutz the putz said a couple of years ago that a car battery takes 6 man minutes to make. all in all. meaning 1/10 hourly wage. if that's a chinese poor person that's nothing. if it's well paid american it's 3$. not big amounts

        once the bean counters of car makers really get into it the cost can be really low. and I think Carlos Ghosn figured that out and saw the writing on the wall.

        actually I'll make another prediction (besides lithium soon being well below 200$/kWh) that because a battery pack will become quite affordable, especially for lean cars, that they will go for higher density packs even if lifespan will suffer because the better performance of the car is worth more than the cost of having to change the pack after 6 years instead of 10. because of the cumulative mass you save in the design.
        but that's long into the future when they get their heads out of their asses.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Table 5.3 Rough Estimate of 18650 Cell Manufacturing Costs

        Materials = Item Cost ($)
        Cathode LiCoO2 = 0.62
        Separator = 0.14
        Electrolyte = 0.30
        Anode = 0.25
        Materials subtotal = $1.28

        Overhead = 0.15-0.25
        Direct labor = 0.18-0.24
        Total manufacturing cost ~ $1.70

        This is a breakdown of the cost of making 18650 lithium cobalt cells, from the Argonne "Costs of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Vehicles" study back in 2000. Note Nissan is using lithium manganese spinel cathodes (much cheaper than cobalt) but the chart should give an idea of the cost breakdowns. This is for a highly automated line making the Tesla cells. Note that labor is a tiny portion.


        • 8 Months Ago
        The point was to show what the labor component was back in 2000, it probably has improved.

        LiFePO4 cathodes must be dirt cheap compared to lithium cobalt.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Except that no one in their right mind uses 18650 cells in automobiles. (Yes, the Tesla uses them but that is because it was designed before better batteries were available.)
        • 8 Months Ago
        strike that, it's actually 17million cells per year. 50000 cells per day including weekends. gotta be some kind of mass production. must be cheap already
      • 8 Months Ago
      Just to clear up any confusion created by this article:

      -54,000 was the original production goal for the first year in Japan

      -90,000 is the new production number for the first year- was the goal for second year

      -All of this is just for the LEAF (no other Nissan EV's are being offered in the first year)

      -550,000+ is the Nissan/Renault global production capacity currently being built in Tennessee (200,000), UK, France, Portugal.... (the list keeps growing)
      • 8 Months Ago
      Anything that can reduce the cost of automotive batteries is a good thing. I think cost is the biggest factor affecting EV adoption - far more so than range. I think people would be willing to accept a little range anxiety if the price was right.
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