Nissan has been playing its cards pretty close to its chest when it comes to the production costs for Leaf battery packs. The company recently put a price on replacement batteries for customers at $5,500 plus the requirement to return the old battery. If the decommissioned battery is worth $1,000 to Nissan, as they have stated, that means the battery costs about $6,500 to make, right? Maybe even less if Nissan wants to turn a profit, as automakers are wont to do? Wrong.

Green Car Reports spoke to Nissan about these battery costs, and found that the automaker actually loses money on selling the replacement battery for the Leaf at the current price. Jeff Kuhlman, Nissan's vice president of global communications said, "Nissan makes zero margin on the replacement program. In fact, we subvent every exchange." All you English majors will know that "subvent" is a fancy way to say "subsidize." Kuhlman added, though, "We have yet to sell one battery as part of the program."

The fact that Nissan offers its replacement batteries for less than it costs to manufacture them is telling of a company both cares about what its customer needs and is dedicated to the success of its product. In this case, both of those things encourage people to give up fossil fuels and adopt electric mobility, which is heartening. As more people switch to battery-powered driving, though, battery technology should become better and cheaper, and the scale of production should cause manufacturing costs to decrease. Eventually, Nissan could easily see itself breaking even selling the Leaf battery replacements.

Nissan Leaf replacement battery is covered under the same eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty as the battery in a new car.


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  • 45 Comments
      Ben Crockett
      • 4 Months Ago
      Nissan probably acknowledge that they are losing money on the current battery pack - but they are smart enough to know that pack prices will decrease into the future at the batteries decrease in cost. The loss is a short term play while keeping current early adopters happy which I think is great.
        TopGun
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Ben Crockett
        Too bad Leaf buyers aren't smart enough to realize Nissan went the cheap route - there is no liquid-cooled battery management system to keep the batteries healthy and happy.
          Ben Crockett
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TopGun
          Hopefully the batteries they will use in the future using different chemistries won't require thermal management - as the batteries themselves won't run hot enough to require management.
          futurecars
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TopGun
          top gun what are you talking about, you mean that 1% affected people, nissan battery does not have a health issue , it just cannot stand up to extreme temperature, and there is a new battery called the lizard that can do that now, and does not need liquid cool.
          Joeviocoe
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TopGun
          They just released the "lizard battery" that is supposed to be much better
        DarylMc
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Ben Crockett
        Even if that is the case, full credit to Nissan for trying to foster a cleaner transportation energy source.
      Dave
      • 4 Months Ago
      The loss they are taking on a few battery packs is an inexpensive marketing gimmick.
      SteveG
      • 4 Months Ago
      How many of these are they really selling now? This is a marketing exercise to make buyers more comfortable. By the time they do sell any of these the price will be profitable.
      ferps
      • 4 Months Ago
      I wonder what the actual cost is. My guess is that it's at least $300 / KWh, which is $7200 for a 24KWh pack. That's a small loss, but not a huge expense. OTOH, if it's $500 / KWh, then they are charging half the price of the battery's cost.
        Grendal
        • 4 Months Ago
        @ferps
        It's definitely closer to the $300 per kWh than the $500 per kWh.
      lzooro
      • 4 Months Ago
      So they're losing a little money? Big deal. They're still trying to introduce more people to electric vehicles. I'm certain, the cost will go down, longevity will improve down the road, and car companies will make money on them in the future. And think about this... For everything added, you have something taken away. there are things that you will never have to worry about on an EV. You won't ever have to do head gaskets or replace your dual clutch trans on an EV. Seriously, it's not as if a repair or replacement that costly is that unusual for a modern ICE vehicle, but costly repairs, replacements and servicing aren't stopping people from buying ICE powered vehicles, is it? A Jetta TDI HPFP failure can run you $10,000+, and that's just as likely, if not more likely to happen sooner than a Leaf needing a battery replacement, yet I don't see as much worry over diesel fuel systems as I do EV and hybrid battery longevity.
      offib
      • 4 Months Ago
      Considering that no one has purchased a replacement pack, that there's no stock so it's sort of like a custom order and that Nissan is desperate to produce as many LEAFs as possible to match demand, sparing a whole pack for an order would definitely be expensive compared to mass producing it and marrying it to the LEAF's chassis. So, as the old sotry goes, the batteries will continue to get cheaper. Besides, it would be really stupid (and really painful) to get a new pack now just before Renault and Nissan produces their new cell chemistry for 2016/17.
      Avinash Machado
      • 4 Months Ago
      Good way to keep customers happy.
      Winnie Jenkems
      • 4 Months Ago
      That Leaf sure looks like a doofus
        Ziv
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Winnie Jenkems
        Yeah, it is ugly, but it will get you from point A to point B using all-American electricity instead of gasoline, half of which we have to import.
          Ziv
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Ziv
          Even if you get all your electricity from a coal plant, your car is still cleaner than most cars on the road. And you are keeping your dollars right here in the States as well as paving the road to even better electric cars to come. So yeah, that is all-American enough for me. Thanks for asking.
      George
      • 4 Months Ago
      "Maybe even less if Nissan wants to turn a profit, as automakers are wont to do? Wrong." What language is this?
      icemilkcoffee
      • 4 Months Ago
      So can a hobbyist building his own electric car, simply shell out $5500+ $1000 core charge, and buy a Nissan Leaf battery? Or do they only sell to Leaf owners?
      Dr Zoidberg
      • 4 Months Ago
      "...those things encourage people to give up fossil fuels and adopt electric mobility, which is heartening." Where and how is the electricity to run these being produced? Nuclear reactors?
        Ziv
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Dr Zoidberg
        Nukes and Hydro, thank you very much!
          Ziv
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Ziv
          Coal has dropped from generating almost 60% of our electricity to around 39% and the plants we have now tend to be cleaner than the older plants. Nukes are steady at generating 20-21% of our electricity. Natural gas is booming of course and it is cleaner than even the newer coal plants. It is a good time to be driving an electric car for a whole host of reasons.
          PatrickH
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Ziv
          Oh yeah? Not in Japan, not in Germany and eventually not in France. And Nuke/Hydro make up a small percentage in the US. The majority of it comes from COAL, and natural gas.
      BipDBo
      • 4 Months Ago
      I called it, back when they made the original announcement of the battery replacement program, that they will be loosing money. The program was put in place to give more confidence, and possibly expand the number of potential customers to buy a Leaf. More confidence of longevity might also raise resale values, making lease programs more profitable. They knew they would loose money, but hope to not have to sell too many packs. It's the same reason they have a standard extended full replacement warrantee on their CVTs. I doubt that they will make a battery sale without a core.
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