First gen LEAF remanufactured batteries on the way

by Ernie Hernandez on May 19, 2018

LEAF Battery Pack

Remanufacturing LEAF batteries

When Nissan first started selling the LEAF in 2010, they were already looking to the future. They partnered with Sumitomo to create 4R Energy Corporation to evaluate second-life applications for degraded EV batteries. 4R Energy is now starting production of remanufactured batteries in Japan.

Previously, it took Nissan 16 days to evaluate the entire battery pack. Sumitomo can do it in four hours. This improvement in efficiency makes the remanufacturing process much more cost effective. Available only in Japan initially, price of the pack will be $2,855, roughly half the cost of a new replacement battery. Freight to the US would make them more expensive here. Nissan is talking about the first generation 24 kWh battery packs only. The 30 kWh battery packs use different chemistry, which is also different from the newest 40 kWh packs available in the 2018 LEAF. This process applies only to the first gen cells for now.

Not available in high volume

Initial production calls for only a few hundred each year, with plant capacity currently 2,250 battery packs annually. With over 100,000 first-gen LEAFs on the road globally, this will not come close to meeting ultimate demand, but it’s a move in the right direction. No information is known about availability in markets other than Japan, or if plants will be built elsewhere.

80 percent capacity

R4 is removing modules with less than 80 percent capacity and using them in other applications. Modules with 80 percent capacity or above are assigned to replacement LEAF batteries. What this means is that your remanufactured battery will not go the original 84 mile range, but will instead give you at least 67. So who would want to buy one of these?

Inexpensive town car

Currently a 2011-2012 LEAF can be had for anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 depending on mileage, trim and condition. Perhaps less in some markets. Add $3,000 for the replacement battery and you have a low maintenance, inexpensive car to do all of your around-town errands while keeping the mileage low on your leased vehicle and lowering your fuel costs significantly. Perhaps not the solution for everyone, but certainly a consideration for many.

[Source: Reuters]

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LEAF wins KBB Five Year Cost to Own – Electric Vehicle

by Ernie Hernandez on February 27, 2018

Less is more

Lower operating expense is an important reason to buy an electric car compared to a gas powered car. If this factor is important to you, it makes sense to consider the one that has the lowest cost of ownership. This year, it is the 2018 Nissan LEAF.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) annually selects vehicles with the lowest ownership costs over their first five years of life. Operating costs such as fuel, maintenance, repairs, and insurance are taken into account. But also considered are other ownership costs such as financing and depreciation.

The results

I’ll spare you the drama and tell you up front that the three lowest cost of ownership electric cars for 2018 are LEAF, Chevrolet Bolt, and BMW i3. There are some significant differences among the three though. You might still choose Bolt or i3 for reasons beyond cost of ownership.

2018 Nissan LEAF

LEAF costs $38,258 to drive over its first five years. More potential owners will probably compare LEAF to Bolt than to the i3, so I’ll look at some differences between these two.

LEAF gets its lower cost to own advantage primarily by having a lower price. Entry price points of LEAF to Bolt are over $6,000 apart. Of course, what you get with the Chevy is 88 miles of additional range for your money. Automatic Emergency Braking, standard on the LEAF, is optional on the Bolt upper Premier trim level. Nissan also offers ProPILOT assist driver assistance technology and available Intelligent Cruise Control. Neither are available on the Bolt.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt

Bolt runs $46,286 over its first five years. The biggest part of that disadvantage to the LEAF is the higher base MSRP. As already mentioned, the big draw of the Chevy is the additional range, but if its range that you won’t typically use, it may prove to be an unneeded expense. The Bolt does offer features not found on the LEAF though. First, there is a 10 inch touchscreen display compared to the 7 inch display in the LEAF. Both offer one-pedal driving – in the Bolt it’s called Low mode, and LEAF offers e-Pedal. Both will provide additional regenerative capacity and quicker slowing but the Bolt has a paddle behind the steering wheel to add just a touch more when you want it. Bolt has a shorter wheelbase, which can make for a choppier ride around town and some owners have complained about seat comfort.

2018 BMW i3

The BMW runs significantly more to own over the first five years – $55,690. It costs more to buy – $44,450 and more to finance, which are the single biggest contributing factors to the cost difference. BMW does bring something to the table not found on either of the other two – a range extending model. With an electric only range of 114 miles, BMW offers an onboard gas engine to serve as a generator to extend the range to 180 miles. But if range is the real issue, for less money you could just buy the Bolt to begin with. But you wouldn’t have the cool badge on the hood. Surprisingly, of the three, it’s not the BMW with the most horsepower. It’s the Bolt. i3 – 170 HP. Bolt – 200 HP. LEAF – 147 HP. That said, you’re probably not buying any of these to go street racing.

Summary

There are many more EVs to choose from than ever before. Still, an EV is not right for everyone. But if you fall into the EV sweet spot where you have another car that you can use for long trips, here are three EVs worth considering.

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