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Hundreds, not thousands.

That's the word from Nissan's chief vice-president of global marketing communications, Simon Sproule, who believes that after five years of repeated use, the battery pack in the Nissan Leaf may require some maintenance, but not complete replacement.

Nissan states that after five years (or 60,000 miles) of use, the Leaf's battery pack will still retain at least 80 percent of its original 24-kWh capacity. But if the pack dips below that 80-percent threshold, then Nissan says individual module swap outs – not entire battery pack replacements – will be the most likely solution. Sproule stated:
There's been a lot of debate online about the replacement cost of the battery and it's very unlikely that anyone's going to have to replace the entire battery pack. Typically people will need to replace modules and we can open up the battery pack and do that. There's been a lot of chatter online about tens of thousands of dollars or euros to replace a whole battery pack, but really you want to focus on the modules and these will be in the hundreds, not the thousands.
As for the common concern that daily use of a quick-charge (Level 3) station will degrade battery life, Sproule responded:
If someone uses the fast charging system every day, they would be doing more than 200 miles [daily] and on an annual basis that would be over 70,000 miles. There aren't many people that drive 70,000 miles a year in any car so it's an unlikely scenario that someone would be fast charging every day. The constant heavy recharge cycle is the extreme and we engineer for the extreme but the reality day-to-day will be nowhere near that.
Looks like Sproule has his hands full dispelling Nissan Leaf myths.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 67 Comments
      David Laur
      • 3 Years Ago
      great conversation here. in fact, one of the best concerning batteries i have ever seen. now i am on my 2nd EV. also had a Zenn with a 72 VDC lead acid system. it had active pack balancing and monitoring and i can tell you ONE DEFECTIVE battery in 6 can EASILY lead to a degradation equaling HALF the range. now granted, having 6 batteries is more susceptible than having a few dozen. but you get the point and its a point already made and made well and it bears emphasizing another point and that is that batteries are all created UNEQUALLY. no matter how robust the balancing, the batteries will fail at varying rates. but keep in mind; the GREATER percentage of the modules in the Leaf Pack will run over 100,000 miles and see NO APPRECIABLE degradation during that time. ya, thats right...none. so why the scary disclaimers? simply there is no perfect solution, process, etc. when i worked at intel, we have arguably the greatest manufacturing process control on the planet that still caused 85% of our processors to fail. well, actually "fail" is a bit of a misnomer. they did not fail, they only failed to pass the speed test they were designed for. they were usually marked at a lower speed and sold anyway. now, this was in a 2 Billion dollar Fabrication Lab that has air up to 10,000 times cleaner than a hospital operating room. (why we use that as a comparison i do not know. their track record for saving lives sucks) and nearly all causes of the failure had to do with contamination from dust. so what do you think the failure level of batteries would be? granted, they are tested, rated well within their tested capacities, yada yada yada, but there will be some that will last 200,300 maybe even 500% longer than is brother which was built right next to it. so the replacing the bad module and leaving the rest really does make perfect sense and when the warranty runs out and you have to start paying for it, that will probably be the exact "ah ha!!" moment for you as well
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Month Ago
        @David Laur
        THANK YOU MR. LAUR That is what I have been trying to say. But I bumble my words and can be easily misunderstood. People here see a disclaimer (or a lack of a warranty) and take that as a statement of fact that the batteries WILL die after a certain time. Rather than knowing why companies make disclaimers... to cover their Arse IF things go badly. It always seems that knowledge of the subject seems to reduce the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) Not just knowledge of the battery technology... but also about how probability works, how quality control, and defects affect production too. Thank you again for explaining and vindicating the point I was trying to make.
        • 1 Month Ago
        @David Laur
        I'd love to see their detailed MTBF figures, by cell and by pack. Anyways, NMC which they are supposed to be moving to is rated at 1,000 cycles as compared to around 500-700 however they calculate it, and the Toshiba lithium titanate batteries in some iMiEvs are reckoned to go some extraordinary figure like 6,000 cycles.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Battery management is crucial to the adoption of EV's. Outside of enthusiasts, few modern car owners want to be bothered with worrying about issues like battery maintenance. The day's of cars owners doing backyard auto maintenance, have long since disappeared. All the modern EV owner wants to know, is that he plugs the car in, and EV's the computer does the rest. It's possible for the EV's computer to diagnose any problem and notify Nissan, (or any other EV manufacturer). Nissan can then contact the EV owner to schedule a service visit. The service call could probably be done at a designated time, and location of the owners choosing, thus minimising inconvenience. Ford Motors, funded R&D into producing a powerful battery pack with a short life,12-18 months, but a very economical cost, (-$950). The project, which was a JVC with a Swiss company, recently received a boost in funding from US and Nato military and disappeared from public media interest. Obviously, such a battery would be of tremendous interest to the OEM's, as it would assist dealers with a product to replace ICE dealership service divisions.
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Since after the first year service intervals on the Renault Kangoo are specified at 25,000 mile intervals, Renault at least must not see battery degradation as likely to cause problems. Whether that confidence is justified or not only time will tell.
      StevenG
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nissan is allowing too much of the capacity to be drained on a daily basis to expect a long life span, there is a reason the Volt only goes down to 30% SOC, yet Nissan will let it go down to 8%. If the battery in the Volt is down to 80% capacity its still a 32 mile EREV that can go anywhere at 42 MPG. An 80% Leaf is a 48-72 mile EV, which isn't terrible, but the battery replacement 5 years down the road is an unknown. The new cars 5 years from now will certainly be more advanced with more advanced batteries, could the Leaf reach a point in 5 years where replacing the battery just isn't worth it and it heads right to the scrap yard?
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Month Ago
        @StevenG
        Two VERY different chemisties. You are comparing apples to salamanders. So your math is meaningless.
          Fgergergrergr
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Both use manganese spinel type I believe, made by different manufacturers.
        • 1 Month Ago
        @StevenG
        Most users will not take the Leaf battery down near depletion most days. 12,000 miles/year is around 33 miles/day, so the SOC should not normally be a problem. Battery life will improve considerably as they get larger. A ~50kwh battery should last twice as long as that on the Leaf, chemistry improvements aside.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Month Ago
      Also, David You know how estimated EV ranges tend to have a LOT more variability than gasoline vehicle MPG counterparts?? (i.e. 47 miles - 132 miles)... with very few people actually getting anywhere near the median. Most people are ALL OVER THE PLACE. Well, battery cycle figures have the same problem when compared to engine parts. Most engine parts that have a maintenance limit (say 30,000 miles) can be fairly reliable to fail, and fail drastically at some point near that limit. Don't make the mistake of making all your calculations based on those cycle numbers that are very loose estimates... depending on a lot of factors. I know that it's tempting since we don't yet have much real world data.... it is irresistible to come up with conclusions using too many assumptions that aren't verified.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm positively surprised at the early indications of longevity with lithium batteries. I expected we would always have to live with replacing the pack maybe every 7-10 years but the first Tesla roadster passing 100.000km with no problem and that's basically the worst chemistry for longevity. I expect the best lifepo batteries could last decades. it seems if you just don't over or underdischarge or get them too hot they live much much longer than we are used to from cell phones and laptops. if nissan expects 80% capacity after 100.000km that's pretty good and that's not iron phosphate afaik. so you might have 70% after 200k. and that's the first gen
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Joe, I don't follow costs in the US too closely, but when I looked at them it was a lot cheaper to lease a Leaf rather than buy. Here in Europe the costs of battery lease from Renault are ridiculously cheap, and really even the Leaf makes no economic sense compared to leasing the battery. Interest charges on the extra cost of the battery alone make buying not a sensible option. Here in the UK it is normal practise to lease cars rather than buy, with an option to buy at the end of the lease period. For batteries in particular since they are falling in cost, why buy an expensive battery now when you can lease and if you want to buy a cheaper battery later?
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Month Ago
          You cannot really KNOW unless you KNOW the resale value of the car after the lease term would end. No matter how cheap the monthly lease cost is. Also, interest varies on the type and amount of financing. So cannot say that for sure either.
          • 1 Month Ago
          You can arrive at a good working estimate. Whether you lease or buy depreciation should be the same. In the UK when you lease you would normally be quoted a value for the car in different conditions after the 3 years, although I am not sure how it works for new models. Battery lease prices work out to £835.20pa for 6,000 miles pa, the only mileage we have full figures on at the moment but going by the prices on the Kangoo for 12,000 miles you would pay about £1,065 pa That is for the Fluence. The actual car costs £17,850 after subsidy. The Leaf costs £25,990 So the battery ignoring the differences in the cars is perhaps £8,140 Five years battery lease by which time the battery will be down to around 80% according to Nissan comes to about £5,325 I can't see any way a battery with 80% capacity is going to be worth nearly £3,000. In addition the 'cost of capital' is normally taken at at least 5% for costing calculations, and they would certainly be done on many of these cars as many new car purchases are by and for business, comes to about another £2,000 on an £8,000 battery pack. I can;t see any way it does not make sense to buy the Fluence and keep the £8,000 in your pocket. If you further consider that battery prices are dropping by perhaps 6-8% per year then it is difficult to see how you would not be better off leasing.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Sorry to burst your bubble Dan, but in addition to miles, lithium batteries ( and even nickel / lead acid ) have calendar lives to consider too. The other variable is over/under discharging, and exceeding their C rate during charging or discharging, sure. But a well designed battery system will not encounter any of those problems.. Nissan hasn't discussed this but their lithium batteries could expire after ~10 years irregardless of the amount of cycles put on the battery. But what will it cost to replace the battery in ~10 years who knows!! there could be 6 generations of battery improvements by then. The waters are muddy on this one... for sure.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          I've noticed a trend... If Dan F. states something, the one can pretty much accept that the opposite is true: "I've never seen any data that indicates calendar life with lithium batteries" means that there's plenty of data documenting calendar life with li-ion batteries! Behold: "Calendar life studies of lithium-ion batteries" http://www.che.sc.edu/faculty/popov/drbnp/WebSite/MSA-calendar.pdf "Impact of the 3Cs ofBatteries on PHEV Value Proposition:Cost, Calendar Life, and Cycle Life" http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/energystorage/pdfs/45887.pdf "Accurate life prediction must consider both storage and cycling degradation effects" http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/energystorage/pdfs/46031.pdf "NREL Life Model NCA datasets fit with empirical, yet physically justifiable formulas" http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/energystorage/pdfs/49796.pdf
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          2WM: Since Nissan are trying to set up 'second life' uses for their batteries for stationary storage presumably they feel that they are going to get a good long calender life out of them, and Toshiba specifically talks about their lithium titanate batteries lasting as long as the car.
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          I meant to add but forgot that we don't really know properly about calender life, as by its nature it is difficult to test. Although of course Nissan have the best guess as to their prospective battery life we are going to have to wait some years to get really definitive data.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          David, There is no risk in a lease... but there is a definite loss. You spend a lot of money, and will have nothing at the end. You have to do a cost/benefit analysis to see if you think that the most probable cost of buying exceeds the definite loss of leasing. It comes down to confidence in the future value. If you truly believe that the pack would be worthless in 5 years, they the lease has the smallest loss. If you, like me, believe the pack will still have decent performance after 8 years, won't cost too much to replace (since there is residual second life value of the old pack)... then buying would have the smallest loss. It is up to you... but in my opinion, the more you know about the engineering and chemistry of Li-ion batteries, the less fear you have, the more confident you will become... and might lean toward buying.
          Ford Future
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          It's almost as if there's a new generation every year! There's a very high innovation schedule going on.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          2WM, I am quite familiar with the idea of calendar life but in all the data sheets I've looked at and any test I've heard of I've never seen any data that indicates calendar life with lithium batteries and I'm guessing you haven't either. some types might have calendar life but I get the impression that many don't
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          There is no risk at all to the customer if you lease, the car in the case of Nissan or the batteries for Renault. That seems to me by far the best option. There is no point taking any risk when you can avoid it at no cost.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Month Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          They said that EV early adopters would be pioneers. Why are people getting upset that there are risks?
      Michael
      • 3 Years Ago
      During the Nissan Leaf tour this is the information we were given. That modules could be easily replaced and monitored if something was going wrong. The plug and play is the way to go for long term use.
      q3a7vodk4
      • 3 Years Ago
      No surprises here. This is a direct result of their choice of battery chemistry. They chose to gain a bit more range in exchange for battery life. Honestly replacing it module by module when your battery chemistry choice is causing the whole battery to degrade faster is the worst way you could replace it. You need to swap to a new pack. LiFePO4 would have lasted much longer.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Month Ago
        @q3a7vodk4
        The are also very heavy. It is easier to sell a 100 mile EV that 'might' last 8 years.... than a 60 mile EV that will last 12 years.
      mustang_sallad
      • 1 Month Ago
      The point is that the weakest link is not only not pulling its wait, its preventing the other batteries that it's in series with from putting out their full capacity. A 25kWh pack made of 25 1kWh cells in series might only be able to output 10kWh safely if one of those 1kWh cells is messed up (any battery management system will prevent you from discharging if any one cell goes below a certain voltage limit, and your weak cell is now gonna be your limiting factor). So yes, you could add an extra 15kWh of batteries, and yes 10kWh+15kWh does equal 25kWh, but A) in that situation, you're going to continue to abuse the weak cell, and your 10kWh is going to reduce, and B) it's much cheaper to just replace the one 1kWh cell. Of course all this would be a totally different story if you wired all your batteries in parallel, but EVs don't work too well running at 3.6V... So instead it's good to have modules of cells all grouped in parallel, and then put those modules in series. That way any variability between cells in a module will tend to average out a little bit. A random weak cell will then have maybe a dozen buddies in parallel to help him out, and it doesn't sink the ship just yet.
      fairfireman21
      • 1 Month Ago
      I used to run 2 batteries in my pick-up and one of them went bad and it would draw power from the other one making both of them weak. If one is bad adding another new one would not fix the problem but just add more weight and the bad one would still be there taking power away from the new one.
      throwback
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have to think the labor involved with just swapping modules will be pricey. It would seem that the labor price would be less for a full swap, although the battery price will be higher.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @throwback
        Nope. Once you get the battery out of the car... there really won't be much additional labor to unscrew the panel and disconnect the modules. No moving parts, remember. So nothing complicated other than plastic pieces. And then some programming of the computer too. But that would be need with a full battery replacement too.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I was only comparing a full swap to swapping just modules. BOTH would require removing the full pack. So the labor price would be about the same. Is all I was saying.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          But getting the battery out of the car is the hard part. The Leaf has all the battery packs in a big monster clam shell at the base of the car. It looks like it would not be a trivial job to drop out the big monster clam shell to get access to the individual modules.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @throwback
        Shouldn't be expensive unless they are intentionally gouging. It's not hard to do, i've done it on more complicated battery systems within minutes..
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't follow the explanation here. My understanding is that there are two forms of battery capacity degradation, one of the failure of one particular cell, which replacement of that unit could reasonably fix, but the other a more general loss of capacity for the whole battery pack as cycling caches up with it. I can't see how replacing one or two of the cells will fix that.
        • 3 Years Ago
        What I am getting at is that it looks as though if you want more than 80% capacity you will have to change the whole battery pack after just 60,000 miles, which is not cheap and replacing a cell unit will only fix things if there is a sudden malfunction. Why is it that whenever VP's titled things like 'Global marketing communications executives' speak, confusion seems to be made worse? It would be nice to hear from their technical team.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        You are correct David. A handful of cells going bad usually does occur during the lifespan of a lithium battery. I like how they dodge the entire pack replacement cost question. My guess is that it's in the low $10k figure and will gradually reduce over time. Given that these are 3.6-3.8v nominal cells, you could replace the with whatever you like as long as it fits the form factor of the battery case anyway.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        This is engineering... and hence, NOT INTUITIVE! Gradual capacity loss of multicell battery packs is actually caused by the differences in health of the individual cells. It is sort of a cascade. Imagine 100 cells. They all have nominal voltages ranging from 3.6 - 3.8 volts but they operate at exact voltages (depending on load capacity, temperature, etc) at any given moment. Some cells, say 10 of 100, over time degrade just a bit faster than other 90. Those 10 still operate within the nominal range but their average exact voltage might be slightly lower than the other 90... even with the exact same conditions of load, temp, etc. The other 90% of cells must compensate for the lower 10th percentile. Thus, reducing performance of the whole pack. Continued use in this manner will accelerate degradation. However, not all the remaining healthy 90 cells will be affected equally. So imagine another 10 cells beginning to degrade at a faster rate... and so on and so on. The cells become UNBALANCED! Catch this early, by replacing the lower 10th percentile of cells by the 5th year or so... and you can save the pack, AND maintain good performance and capacity.... AND only spend money for a few cells every time.
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @Rotation: Hmm, that was my working hypothesis too, until Joe chimed in. So we are back to having intermittent expenditures of a few hundred dollars and then definitely needing a replacement pack after around 60,000 miles. Not good, if Joe is incorrect.
          Rotation
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I never said the wear was linear, but it does happen. Cells age. It isn't just a few of them. After a few years of use every cell will have increased internal impedance and that means reduced performance under load and reduced battery life. Will they all wear the same amount and linearly? No and no. But even if you replace the few "low cells" you still won't be back to full performance because every cell in pack will be showing some wear. As to lead-acid batteries, they're completely different. They age by sulfating more than anything else, and sulfating happens due to disuse. LIons age mostly due to use. Also, you are talking about the "time until replacement" of batteries. This is only barely related to gradual capacity loss over time. Car batteries are way over-specced to start with so as they lose a little capacity it isn't an issue. A 3 year old car battery, even if still working will not have the same capacity it did on day 1. Most cells are only rated at 500 cycles before falling to 80-85% of initial capacity. So after going 1500 cycles or 120,000 miles a pack will definitely have noticeably reduced capacity, even if it doesn't develop any bad cells or if you replace the bad cells.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Thanks Joe. That clears it up considerably more than the VP in charge of 'global marketing communications' managed! ;-)
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          500 or so cycles fits in pretty well with 60,000 miles down to 80%. I am not a great fan of manganese spinel and am hoping that NMC batteries can not only provide more energy density but better cycle life: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/11/nissan-nmc-20091129.html 'The new battery can store about twice as much electricity as batteries with positive electrodes made only from manganese. It is robust enough for practical use, able to withstand 1,000 or so charge cycles.' That bumps you up to around 100,000 miles before battery replacement, and if some of the improvement is used to increase range that might get you up to around 120,000 miles as it would not cycle so often for a given mileage. In addition if the present range at 80% is adequate to your driving, then to drop down to the same capacity as current batteries might take another 120,000 miles using a naive and probably incorrect straight line deterioration, but in any case you are likely to get a lot more miles down to the same range.
          Rotation
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Pack capacity loss is not explainable by only "bad cells". Bad cells are responsible for packs that become unchargeable, but for a pack to just lose a few % of capacity, it can be because every cell is down too. Also, when replacing cells, your pack becomes even more unbalanced, because now you have 90% 3 year old cells and 10% brand new cells. You can't really fight it, pack capacity will go down over time.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Battery science is definitely NOT intuitive. You cannot think of them as linearly degrading, even over time. 1) Bad cells, as you are thinking, is not what I was referring to. There is a lot more shades of gray. Not just Good, working cells... and bad cells. But a whole myriad of conditions that affect the performance of the cells. There is no, " definitely needing a replacement pack after around X miles". Proper pack management and routine checks could allow some packs to last 120,000 miles. How long does an automobile starter battery last? Why do some last 2 years, and some last 8 years... even when they are the same battery type? There is no definite answer! Too many variables. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- There are still many unknowns... but if you're really that unsure, Lease! Don't buy the very first mass market EV. This is not for the weary.
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I've found this on cycle life: http://www.bcg.com/documents/file36615.pdf The bottom line is that you get much better cycle life from NMC batteries, so that and a larger pack size should pretty effectively end cycle life worries. I would lease at least until they come in though.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        You might have to spend a few thousand. But it won't break your wallet. Especially compared to the money saved by hardly any maintenance costs for the rest of the car after 8 years.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Renault Kangoo ZE battery leases for £74pm over 60 months at 12,000 miles pa here in the UK. That comes to £4,440, or $6,918 for a 22 kwh pack, or $315 kwh. They are likely supporting the price by anticipating price production declines, and put an unknown residual value on the battery, but by the time Leaf batteries need replacing it sounds as though you may be looking at around $7,500. If 'a couple of cells' for several hundred dollars need replacing during that lifespan that pretty effectively nullifies around a years worth of savings on petrol too. You are far better off leasing and letting Nissan or Renault do the worrying.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's disappointing. I thought Nissan were expecting more like 10 years and 100,000 miles down to 80% capacity, and I can't see how this fits in with Nissan's 8 year guarantee in the US.
        Anonimouse
        • 3 Years Ago
        It does not have to fit into their warranty until they specify exact terms in their warranty, such as "the battery is warranted for 8 years/100000 miles to have at least 80% of its capacity when new". The last time I looked, no such terms were specified. When these types of terms are specified, I will consider buying a Leaf as I will have a better idea what to expect in terms of long term operating costs.
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