This weekend saw the third capacity bar on my LEAF dashboard turn off. This is confirmation that the battery degradation is now quite advanced and I can expect to replace the battery within the next 12 months.
My LEAF is at 71,000 miles right now and I now anticipate the battery will need replacing by the time it reaches 90,000 miles. This is disappointing given that Nissan’s Mark Perry provided guidance suggesting 10-20% degradation by year 10. I do drive above average miles per year and anticipated 7 years at 120,000 miles to be the time for a replacement based on the original Nissan guidance, not 5 years at 90,000 miles. I suppose this is the price one pays being the first to adopt a brand new car model with new technology on-board. Hopefully Nissan have a solution waiting in the wings for the early adopters….
New Better Battery Available
The original LEAF battery has not been quite as durable as predicted. In some climates in Northern Europe LEAF’s have over 100,000 miles with minimal degradation and are beating the Nissan guidance despite being rapid charged very frequently. The determining factor appears to be climate, hotter climates are seeing shorter LEAF battery lives.
Nissan introduced a new battery that tolerates heat better in the summer of 2014 for the new 2015 model of the LEAF. Earlier models such as mine can use the new heat tolerant battery. The cost of a new exchange battery is $5,500 plus labor and tax. So the final cost will be north of $6,000.
Bigger Battery Maybe Coming Soon.
Interestingly there are a lot of rumors surrounding the 2016 model LEAF which maybe released later this year. The rumors suggest a new 30 kWh battery vs the current 24 kWh thereby offering a 25% increase in range.
Speculation has also extended to the possibility that the 30 kWh pack could be made available for the earlier model LEAF’s as an upgrade. Certainly it is easier to justify spending more than $6,000 on an upgrade vs a straight replacement.
Whether there is substance to these rumors should be known as we go into the fall. The alternative would be to trade to a newer vehicle; Tennessee have re-introduced a $2,500 point of sale discount making a trade more attractive.
Longer Range LEAF “2.0” promised ‘soon’ by Nissan
This year Carlos Ghosn of Nissan hinted at a recent shareholders meeting that a redesigned LEAF (aka LEAF 2.0) will offer a significant increase in range. More than double the current 84 mile range has been hinted at. Exact timing and specifications are not available just yet. Some industry analysts predict 2017 as the introduction of the new 2018 LEAF. Ghosn’s comments are no doubt in response to GM’s announcement they will introduce a 200 Mile Chevy Bolt. The Bolt maybe available as early as October 2016.
Choices Choices – New Battery or New Car?
I will be faced with an interesting choice over the coming months, buy a new battery or buy a new(er) car. Depreciation has been above average for the LEAF making a trade financially costly. My current thinking is if the 30 kWh battery is made available for my LEAF at a similar cost to the current replacement pack, that is my best option until the new LEAF 2.0 comes to market. If a retrofit 30 kWH pack isn’t made available, leasing a newer LEAF for 3 years maybe my best option.