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.