Replacement pricing lower than many expected
Nissan today announced the price for the LEAF replacement battery pack not on their corporate PR website, but on a LEAF internet forum. For a conservative Japanese company that carefully analyzes its every move, the delivery mechanism alone is worth noting. The behemoth is acknowledging the power of the people.
Brian Brockman, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications announced today the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $5,499 for a LEAF replacement battery that will fit in all LEAFs released to date. An installation kit will be needed for 2011 and 2012 models and the price requires the return of the original LEAF battery pack, for which Nissan is providing a $1,000 credit, included in the above price. The installation kit will cost about $225 and installation time is expected to be three hours. 2013 through 2015 models will not require the installation kit. With an hourly labor rate of about $100, let’s call it $6,000. We’ll take a look at some of the financial perspectives in a moment.
Nissan has tinkered with the battery chemistry and according to Brockman these changes were made “in an effort to make the battery more durable in extremely hot climates.” Range and charging characteristics remain the same. Nissan recognizes that they blew it with batteries degrading rapidly in Arizona and other hot climes, and has made efforts to improve the battery life. This will be the same battery included in the 2015 model LEAF. Warranty terms remain the same – 8 years/100,000 miles against manufacturing defects and 5 years/60,000 miles against capacity loss. Nissan states capacity loss as the battery capacity dropping below nine bars (of twelve) on the battery capacity display of the instrument panel.
So, what does this mean? The current high mileage LEAF in the US has just over 120,000 miles and he has just lost his third battery capacity bar. This owner lives in the American Northwest with its cool climate. Hot climate drivers have seen three bar losses in under 50,000 miles. If a typical LEAF owner were able to get 75,000 miles before requiring replacement, battery cost alone would be $0.08 per mile. Add $0.03 per mile for electricity and your fuel costs (battery and electricity combined) amount to $0.11 per mile. Cost to drive a 2014 Camry is $0.132 per mile according to fueleconomy.gov. But that’s just for gasoline. LEAF maintenance costs are much less. And if you can manage to get 100,000 miles before needing a battery the battery replacement cost comes to $0.06 per mile. Obviously our high mileage driver did much better than that. We use Camry as a comparison vehicle as it is the best selling automobile in the US so far this year.
Two years ago Ford placed the cost of the (similarly sized) Focus EV battery pack at “$12,000 to $15,000” (found here). Few in the industry saw price declines of this much, this quickly.
We still look for LEAF 2.0 to arrive on the scene as a 2016 model. We’ve said that since 2010 when the LEAF first hit the road. We fully expect an additional change in battery chemistry, and possibly a longer range option (ala Tesla’s two battery choices). Don’t look for the new 2016 LEAF 2.0 battery to be backward compatible with 2011-2015 LEAFs though. We expect a pretty significant redesign to include exterior and drivetrain packaging modifications that will make LEAF essentially an all new car possibly with a new electric motor as well. The question is will battery improvements come in time. If not, look for a delay to the 2017 model year with Infiniti possibly getting the new drivetrain first.