Third capacity bar lost – Replacement battery anticipated within the next year.

Third bar lost this weekend.

Third bar lost this weekend.

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.

This entry was posted in Electric Car, Nissan LEAF, Opinion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Third capacity bar lost – Replacement battery anticipated within the next year.

  1. Stephen B says:

    I hate to see that, is yours a 2011? I am really hoping the 30kWH packs will be retrofitted to fit into the earlier leaf models. Any idea what the current Lease deals look like on a 2015 Leaf?

    In other EV News, I got a great closeup of a Tesla Model S yesterday in the Green Hills mall. Amazing Vehicle, but at $75k to start, it should be.

    Thanks again, for the great post/insight.

    • jpwhitehome says:

      Yes my LEAF is a 2011 model, serial #5734, one of the first. It was shipped shortly after the Fukushima tragedy, I used to joke it glowed in the dark 🙂

      I have a call into Downtown Nissan to inquire about lease deals. They have a LEAF sale on, they claim to clearing out inventory for July. At 20,000 miles/yr not sure what the cost of a lease will be like. I’ll find out soon enough.

      Thanks for kind comments re this blog.

  2. Hi JP.
    Nice talking to you after long time. Just as curiosity, even considering you replace the battery earlier than expected (90k miles, 5 years), would you consider the RoI of having an electric instead a combustion engine is positive? I mean, the long term cost pays off? As we are way behind in terms of electric/hybrid here (remember, our government is the owner of our oil company…), so I have no idea, in practice, how the numbers are.

    • jpwhitehome says:

      Oi Marcel!

      By my calculations I have already saved more than $9000 in fuel costs and should be over $11,000 in savings by the time I need to replace the battery. The new improved battery should last longer but who knows for sure?

      With the incentives I received at time of purchase, $10,000 in federal and state credits I will come out ahead in the long run. Without the incentives the financial case isn’t there.

      For the Brazilian market a plug in hybrid may make more sense, you guys tend to live in or close to the city and could run on electric most of time unless you went to the beach or mountains. A battery electric only makes sense right now with a multiple car household. That may change when 200+ Mile EVs come to market.

      Keep your eye on the EV marketplace, one day soon EVs should be the obvious choice once prices of batteries get low enough.

      Tchau tchau.

      • Thanks JP. It makes sense. Unfortunately our government isn´t yet giving incentives for hybrid cars. I understand there are some reasons behind that justify this only in part. I agree with you that for us hybrid would make more sense. And also publica transportation, as you said, we tend to live closer to our jobs.
        Tchau tchau.

  3. Stephen B says:

    JP, I am curious, as your capacity bars go down, must you still charge to 100% to reach your maximum mileage or does the battery just stop charging at say 75% or whatever the degradation % is?

    In simpler terms, if your battery drops down to 50% capacity , does that cut your charge time, and charge demand in half as well? I don’t really understand the chemistry of the battery and am just wondering if the degraded portion of the battery dies, or it just becomes less efficient, where it might still take the same time and juice to charge it, but it just doesn’t go as far anymore.


    • jpwhitehome says:

      Hi Stephen,

      A full charge is still considered 100%. Yes the charge time does slowly reduce as the battery degrades as it accepts less and less energy to achieve a full state of charge. However resistance in the battery does increase as it degrades so the reduction in charge time isn’t equal with the level of degradation, it is slightly less.

      Degradation is both gradual and holistic, all cells degrade at the same time at similar rates, one or two cells don’t ‘die’. If one or two cells did die, the battery capacity and voltage would be suddenly and grossly affected; in this case the bad cells would be eligible to be replaced under the 8yr/100,000 mile warranty. A battery that degrades gradually to 70% of original capacity or less needs to be replaced as a whole, it would not help to replace just a few cells.

  4. Stephen B says:

    Thanks JP, can’t wait to hear some details on the 2016. Looks like there are some pretty stellar deals on 2015’s right now.

  5. Keith Gaines says:

    Hello JP,
    I just found your blog today. I have a 39 month lease on a 2012 Leaf SL which ends in January. I’m torn as what to do since I love driving electric, and the possibility of a higher range Leaf in mid 2017. I am looking closely at the used Leaf prices and there are some great deals here in NC and in GA. If I were in your situation needing a new battery, I would probably upgrade to a used 2013 or 2014 Leaf. The thought of not having an EV to drive for 1+ years while waiting for a longer range car really pushes me to buy something now. Currently, I don’t know who will win, my desire to continue driving electric, or the desire for greater range.

  6. Stephen B says:

    Hey JP, any updates?

    Decent deals around Nashville on both new and used Leafs, not sure if it is wise to buy with the much longer range batteries on the horizon. Thanks for all your info. and hope you are well.

    • jpwhitehome says:

      I am still limping along on the old battery. Looks like it will get me through this winter and into the spring. I see Tesla are accepting deposits on a Model 3 starting March 31st at the Moores lane Tesla store, or April 1st online. I will put down a deposit to reserve my place in line. I will probably replace the battery in the LEAF when I lose the 4th capacity bar. I may keep the LEAF long-term and sell my wife’s Altima when the Tesla Model 3 or Bolt EV are available and we’ll switch cars.

  7. Hi JP. I have a 2011 LEAF (VIN 003637) here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at 83,000 miles and just over 4 years old (Nov 2011). My commute is 38 miles one way and I charge L2 at work. I just lost my 3rd capacity bar a month ago I’m at just about 70% capacity according to LEAF SPY. Range is anywhere from 42 miles in winter into a headwind with C/C on to 55 miles in ideal conditions in warmer weather. I’m am currently fighting with my local Nissan dealer to sell me a new battery pack, but they cannot seem to figure out how to do it. Amazing. My plan (if Nissan can find their butt with both hands) is to replace the pack in the next year or so. Hopefully I can get one more winter out of it then replace it in the fall of 2017 when the car will be 6 years old. Then the car will be good to go with the better Lizard battery for another 6 years or more. By then I figure the Chevy Bolt and Model III will be old news and we’ll be looking at affordable 300 mile (self driving!) cars. I may also consider the refundable Model 3 deposit depending on my conversations with Nissan here locally. Good to hear your story is not so different from mine. Regards,

  8. Pingback: $6,000 to replace worn battery, Nissan say 100,000 miles for an electric vehicle is “phenomenal”. | Nissan LEAF

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