2016 LEAF to bridge gap to LEAF 2.0
[UPDATE 6/13/2015] I have confirmation that Nissan’s upper two trim levels will use the new technology battery cells in the current battery modules. Nissan will not confirm the range, but it’s a safe bet that range will improve to at least 105 epa-rated miles.
It seems the EV world is awash with the news of the battery upgrade coming this fall. Nissan, of course, has released no information so as not to slow sales of current models. But leaks happen, and word has come from enough various sources that it seems to be true. Look for a 30 kilowatt hour battery pack in the SV and SL models, with the S model continuing to make do with the current 24 kilowatt hour pack. Apparently new color choices will also be available on the existing body style which will continue for one more year.
In October 2012 NEC (One of Nissan’s battery partners, along with Automotive Energy Supply Corporation AESC) announced the development of a higher voltage battery pack that offers 30% more energy density for the same weight (found here). Presumably the time span since the announcement has been spent on continued development on reliability rather than power improvement.
What follows is pure speculation on my part.
The SV and SL models will use the new battery chemistry in the existing battery case. The S will use up the existing inventory of remaining current battery chemistry modules. The new 2017 LEAF will use the new chemistry in a reconfigured case designed specifically for the new model design and will be larger to hold a greater capacity. There may be two battery pack sizes offered on the 2017 model. Nissan has released no information regarding the 2017 LEAF either in regard to design or launch date.
What does this mean? For those acquiring a 2016 SV or SL LEAF, look for an EPA range of roughly 105 miles. In order for Nissan to meet their stated goal of doubling current LEAF driving range for the next generation LEAF, look for an optional battery pack on the 2017 LEAF of 50 kilowatt hours or so. 60 kilowatt hours will get the range over 200 miles. For those looking to buy a used LEAF, look for even better prices later this year.