LG Chem Looks To Clinch Battery Contract For Next-Gen Nissan LEAF

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 59

LG Chem Has Grand Battery Plans

LG Chem Has Grand Battery Plans

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

When it rains, it pours.

Right now, it’s pouring Nissan/LG Chem news.

Here’s the latest update (via Nikkei):

“LG Chem is hoping to clinch a contract to supply next-generation batteries to Nissan Motor, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles.”

“…adding this Japanese carmaker to its customer list will enable it to boost production, become more cost competitive and gain the upper hand in the battle to set the standard for next-generation batteries.”

This fits perfectly with the recent news of Nissan possibly ditching (or lessening) its in-house batteries in favor of LG Chem and even lines up with LG Chem’s announcement that it will be the “number one player” in the automotive battery segment.

Nikkei adds:

“No details have been revealed about when LG Chem might begin to supply Nissan with batteries and in what volume.”

Speculatively, we think that LG Chem could supply Nissan with core battery components, which will then be assembled into finished battery packs at Nissan’s 3 battery factories (Japan, UK and U.S.)

Surely these next-generation batteries will be for the Nissan LEAF (and Infiniti LE, too).  The next-gen LEAF is expected to launch as a Model Year 2017 EV, while the Infiniti LE is to launch as a 2018.

LG Chem Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Cells

LG Chem Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Cells

Source: Nikkei

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59 responses to "LG Chem Looks To Clinch Battery Contract For Next-Gen Nissan LEAF"

  1. GeorgeS says:

    Does this mean GM is going to beat Nissan to market with their 200 mile EV?

    This article today says 2017 leaf will be 150 range while this inside evs article (below) says GM might have their 200 mile Sonic EV in 2016

    http://insideevs.com/200-mile-chevy-sonic-ev-coming-2016/

    1. DaveMart says:

      George:

      I’ve found out how the battery is cooled on the LG Chem Zoe.

      They use the heat pump for active cooling:

      “El sistema de refrigeración de las baterías es por aire forzado. El propio sistema de bomba de calor/aire acondicionado del habitáculo se utiliza para climatizar las baterías. El aire a la temperatura deseada se impulsa dentro de esta según sea necesario. La circulación del aire se complementa con otro ventilador que aspira y extrae en la parte posterior de la batería.

      Para climas no muy fríos con esto es suficiente. Solo para climas muy muy fríos, como podrían ser los países nórdicos, se podría añadir un sistema de calefacción complementario.”

      http://www.motorpasionfuturo.com/banco-de-pruebas/renault-zoe-presentaci

      La temperatura ideal para las baterías es de unos 23ºC, y entre 0 y 45ºC no necesitan ser climatizadas. Si la temperatura va subiendo y se acerca a los 45ºC entra la climatización con algo de anticipación. Ésta es por aire forzado y ese aire se refrigera mediante líquido frío aportado por la bomba de calor. El aire circula por un circuito que pasa entre los módulos de batería.

      La unidad de refrigeración de aire se encuentra entre la batería y el parachoques trasero, donde iría la rueda de repuesto en otros coches. La refrigeración hará lo posible por mantener la batería por debajo de los 45ºC, pero si la batería alcanza los 65ºC el coche entrará de forma automática en un modo limitado de potencia, 45 kW, igual que en el modo ECO. Si a pesar de todo el sistema no consigue enfriar la batería y la temperatura sube de esos 65ºC el coche se detendrá por precaución.

      http://www.forococheselectricos.com/2013/03/prueba-renault-zoe-coche-ele

      I don’t speak Spanish, but the drift is clear.

      Fernando M. who is Spanish posted this a year ago on another forum in answer to a question of mine.

      I dare not give the link, or the spam filter would faint at 3 links in one post!

      1. GeorgeS says:

        Sounds like the system in the e-NV200.

        1. DaveMart says:

          Then NV200 customers in Arizona and Minnesota should be fine.
          The Zoe system is well tested, with lots on the road both where it is hot and cold.

      2. DaveMart says:

        For those whose Spanish is even worse than mine, it is saying that it forces through cool air to keep the temperature optimal.

        That is fine, except for customers in exceptionally cold countries, on the chilly edge of hell, ie Norwegians, where it is set up to also blast hot air through.

        1. kalle says:

          yes, in sweden we had to wait 1 year extra to gett the zoe due to cold wether adaptation of the battery pack

        2. GeorgeS says:

          It probably has resistive heating as well.

      3. MDEV says:

        Translation; Batteries are cooling by forced air, for mild cold temperatures uses a heat pump, for severe cold weather and additional heating system may be added.

      4. Foro EV says:

        The Zoe compressor is a high voltage electric compressor with voltage higher than 200V. To improve performance and battery life, the new generation of electric or hybrid vehicles controls the air conditioning temperature managed by the system. Thus, the A/C system is very important.

        In case there are problems with the A/C system, the control sensors communicate the fault to the control unit which in turn emits an alarm signal and in some cases does not allow to use the vehicle or the charge the batteries, when this happens the vehicle must be immediately taken to the dealership in order to perform the A/C system repair. The A/C system has a heat pump in order for the battery pack to maintain a constant temperature between 15° and 30°C and to heat the passenger compartment, which doesn’t have a thermal engine with water coolant.

        During summer, the battery compartment is cooled and during the winter it is heated. When the vehicle is charged the A/C system functions in order to protect performance and battery life.

        http://foroev.com/index.php?topic=1260.0

  2. Scott Franco says:

    Does seem like things are shifting around now.

    One small point, Infinity said “model year” 2018, which assumes 2017 introduction. It could be that 2017 will be a huge crash of new range cars on the market, or alternately that everyone is playing liars poker.

    1. kdawg says:

      I’m still hoping mid 2016 is the “Summer of the EV”.

      1. Scott Franco says:

        It would lap with the end of my lease.

      2. GeorgeS says:

        Thx kdawg

  3. Anon says:

    Scramble like ants before Tesla’s M3 hits production. Muahahahahahhaaa.

    Interesting what it takes to motivate some automakers. 😉

    1. ggpa says:

      This is not new … in automotive or other products.

      If you have a cool new thing, you always try to beat the competitors to the market, and as we read the last few days that is what Nissan did in 2010

  4. DaveMart says:

    Audi is a rather large add on to the table above……
    VW soon to come?

  5. ggpa says:

    The only downside for consumers like us is high prices, if LG establishes a de facto monopoly for EV batteries

    1. JRMW says:

      agreed.
      Luckily there are a few things that will help keep prices in check (somewhat)

      1) Tesla’s Gigafactory. LG can’t raise prices too much or people will shift to Tesla/Panasonic

      2) The other OEMs. If LG costs too much Nissan et al would be inspired to get back into the game.

      3) Time. The battery prices will come down over time, even if you have a relative monopoly. LG would profit more with a soft monopoly with a moderately overpriced battery that is in hundreds of thousands (millions?) of cars… as opposed to a hard monopoly with nosebleed-priced batteries that are in only tens of thousands of cars.

      1. ggpa says:

        These are good points, and reassuring.

        The last time there was a EV battery monopoly, big oil bought them and shut off the supply

        1. JRMW says:

          ggpa:

          yes. Luckily, however, Big Oil is losing some clout

          People are starting to realize that we really do have long term structural problems with an energy system based on a resource that is located in the most unstable places on Earth.

          I think the only thing that could derail EVs and battery advances would be if oil plummeted (as it has in the past) and stays down.

          however,
          -the geopolitical situation in the Middle East is worsening again with massive war likely.
          -The House of Saud has major succession issues that will rear their ugly head probably within 10-20 years tops.
          -Obtaining energy from Russia will continue to become more and more problematic.
          -American/Canadian Fracking are unlikely to produce as they have for more than a few decades
          -Billions of people are hoping to emulate Western style life, which will increase energy demand.

          I just don’t see a SUSTAINED collapse in oil prices anytime soon.

          1. kdawg says:

            Also, don’t underestimate the auto company’s abilities to beat up their vendors. They’ve been doing it for 100 years, and it doesn’t matter if you sell batteries or head lights.

          2. pete g says:

            Unrest in Ukraine, iraq and Libya hasn’t raised prices. In fact oil prices have been falling.

            1. JRMW says:

              Yes. Gas prices have been falling.

              But they are far higher than many would have expected given the massive increase in American and Canadian oil production and the sluggish world economy.

              All of my points for medium and long term energy prices hold.
              (10-20 years)

              1. pete g says:

                Oil is a big industry with alot of infrastructure and high overhead. Squeeze profits enough it will be forced to raise prices. Raise prices EV sales go up. Does the phrase “Death Spiral” come to mind.

                1. DaveMart says:

                  A lot of people, myself included, thought that there could be an oil crunch now as we did not see shales coming.

                  Having got us past that, I never agreed with those who thought that in any case there would be a shortage of fossil fuels.

                  Coal gassification and liquifaction is a truly enormous resource, economic at around present prices, and the Japanese are also making steady progress towards exploiting methane hydrates, another vast resource.

                  Those are aside from tar sands, themselves pretty substantial.

                  So I can see no shortage of fossil fuels for decades.

                  Since I go along with the science of global warming, as it is the consensus amongst the great majority of climate scientists, which you might no guess from media coverage I am less than thrilled about this as it may mean fried planet.

                  I am hopeful that we will move on from fossil fuels anyway, but it won’t be because we are running out.

                  1. pete g says:

                    Than why does the US still get 1 million barrels of oil a day from Saudi Arabia?

                    “Infrastructure” or all the wells, pipelines, storage facilities, refineries, ships, trains, trucks, and gas stations. All that stuff needs to be maintained, and as volume goes down costs per gallon go up

        2. Alonso Perez says:

          Cat is kind of out of the bag now.

          They would need to stop Tesla cold. Kind of hard to do at this point. They would need to kick Ghosn out of Renault-Nissan too. I don’t see that happening either.

          And they would need to erase the brains of a couple of hundred thousand EV owners.

          I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it would now be quite hard. The tactic seems to be to slow them down; to drag out the death of ICE for as long as possible, add some confusion with hydrogen, and delay introduction in countries that still have no EVs. This will likely be of some success.

          But it is no longer a time when they can just go and crush a few hundred leased EVs and be done with it.

    2. Anthony says:

      Not necessarily, even GM is doing their own battery research, so if they needed to they could leverage their own capital to make their own batteries. Even if they don’t, it will help keep LG Chem in check because there is always the threat of GM building their own gigafactories with their own battery tech. GM just released a paper on their own Li-S battery development, showing 600+ cycles with little loss at 0.6C.

      “Polydopamine-Coated, Nitrogen-Doped, Hollow Carbon–Sulfur Double-Layered Core–Shell Structure for Improving Lithium–Sulfur Batteries” General Motors Global Research & Development Center

      http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl502238b (via Green Car Congress, http://www.greencarcongress.com/2014/09/20140917-gm.html)

      1. GeorgeS says:

        “Polydopamine-Coated, Nitrogen-Doped, Hollow Carbon–Sulfur Double-Layered Core–Shell Structure for Improving Lithium–Sulfur Batteries” General Motors Global Research & Development Center

        Like Dave said:
        “Pass the Hemlock.”

        1. DaveMart says:

          I think the label says that is what my duvet is made of…..

          1. GeorgeS says:

            Don’t pull it tight around your face.

            Do you feel numb after sleeping?

            1. DaveMart says:

              ‘Numb’ is one of my favourite pet names, and that is a rather personal question….

      2. DaveMart says:

        VW is pouring literally billions into battery research.
        They don’t intend to be at the mercy of any external supplier indefinitely.

        They seem to be targeting next generation chemistry, perhaps Lithium sulphur or silicon anode.

  6. JRMW says:

    “Surely these next-generation batteries will be for the Nissan LEAF (and Infiniti LE, too)”

    Disappointing that the Rogue/Qashqai isn’t on that list.

    I’m continually perplexed why the automakers refuse to release two of the most popular body styles (CUV and SUV) and one of the most popular drivetrains (AWD). Especially when there would be NO competition

    1. Savage J says:

      I think that is the double edged sword JRMW, their popularity. With so much sunk cost, an OEM’s most popular ICE offering will be the last to get cannibalized by offering an EV variant….however the fact that the Focus has an EV offering seems to be a counter to my argument. But I will bet you wont see Qashqai or fiesta EVs anytime soon.

    2. DonC says:

      Probably just a practical calculation. A hatchback is a CUV/SUV that sits lower, making it more aerodynamic. If you were presented with two cars with the same interior space but different ranges, would sacrifice 5 or 6 miles of range for a higher seating position?

      I think a Volt or a Tesla could offer the choice because for these vehicles a few miles of EV range is not a huge issue. Short range BEVs probably not so much.

      1. JRMW says:

        Don:
        People are willing to pay more AND give up mpg in the ICE world to get a CUV/SUV over a hatchback, even if the internal cargo space is equivalent. not sure why it’d be different in EV world.

        But as a Minnesotan: the answer is that I’d sacrifice the range for sure. (if it were reasonable sacrifice)
        This is why I’m now waiting for the Outlander PVEC instead of getting the Volt, Leaf, or MB B Class EV.

        We have an Infiniti G35X (all wheel drive sedan). It’s great and we love it except for the fact that it’s an ICE.

        However, the last 2 winters we’ve had problems because the snow never melted. It just built up and up on the roads over the whole winter. By the end of the winter there were ruts in the road, and the bottom of the car would scrape on the packed snow. We could only get out of our alley in one direction.

        it also has problems with big snowstorms (12-24 inches) because it starts plowing the snow and gets stuck.

        For this reason we always have an AWD sedan and an AWD SUV.

        There really is a reason why SUVs and CUVs are so popular!

        (before someone comments, this has nothing to do with winter tires. Winter tires don’t help you in super deep snow, nor if the bottom of the car is scraping on the packed ice)

        this is what I’m talking about:

        1. kdawg says:

          I think some people just like to sit higher too.

  7. Phatcat73 says:

    Andy Palmer must be talking in his sleep.

  8. evnow says:

    Big question is – will Nissan have to use TMS if they use LG batteries ? That could require substantial rework …

    1. DaveMart says:

      What’s TMS?

      1. GeorgeS says:

        thermal management system

        1. DaveMart says:

          Thank goodness for that.
          I thought it was something new for my wife to complain about.

    2. GeorgeS says:

      Yes they will EVnow. (although somewhat of a speculation on my part)
      The e-NV200 uses it now.
      HP Refrigerant is piped to the pack.
      There is a heat exchanger that can heat or cool with the refrigerant inside the pack so it’s air cooled. Also believe they have resistive heating for super cold climates.

      1. evnow says:

        All that adds complexity. What I liked about Nissan battery was that it was simple – and if the hot battery works as intended – why go to a complicated TMS instead ?

        1. DaveMart says:

          Any battery ‘likes’ to be at a moderate temperature.

          Somme chemistries put up with heat and cold better than others, but will still retain capacity longer if babied a bit.

  9. Bill Howland says:

    The kicker here for me is that US Taxpayers gave a $BILLION to build that Symrna, Tennessee battery plant. The thing was designed for 220,000 batteries and they only needed around 63,000 for all of Nissan’s and Renault’s use anyway, then Renault went and bought theirs from LG anyway.

    Supposedly next week the decision is going to be made whether to close the US plant, as well as the Brit one (1/3 of a $billion British taxpayers coughed up).

    It’s dirty pool if it closes. They state their cost is $270/kwh, but analysts have said it looks like its costing Nissan over $300. LG is stating its new battery can approach $200/kwh, and I certainly respect LG’s track record of NOT BRAGGING. When they say someting they therefore have credulity.

    Now, Nissan could have come up with a 60kwh Infinity, or NV200 truck or some product which would have used up some of that battery capacity. They already have the 6.6 kw charger (optional in the leaf already), so its shouldn’t have been a big deal to attach a motor, reduction gearing, and differential to at least get some of those markets.

    Naysayers will no doubt say the high price would have restricted the number of buyers initially. Yeah, but so what? They’d have proven products ready for when the next generation of low-priced batteries arrive and then they could either increase the driving range or else lower the sticke price and make even more sales.

    But in the meantime they’d use up those otherwise ‘white elephant’ battery plants and make US and Brit taxpayers think that we hadn’t been ‘taken’ so bad.

    1. DaveMart says:

      Small point Bill:
      Nissan have guaranteed replacement batteries at $270kwh, but said that they were losing money at that price.

      If LG Chem can SELL batteries to them at $200kwh, no wonder they are seeking to unwind their contracts.

      Also the state contributions usually include all sorts of things like future reductions in rates, and if the factory does not go into full production it does not cost the state anything like the nominal value of the concessions.

      Its a painful process for all concerned though, there is no doubt about that.

    2. GeorgeS says:

      “Supposedly next week the decision is going to be made whether to close the US plant, as well as the Brit one (1/3 of a $billion British taxpayers coughed up).”

      That’s interesting. We were speculating that they would just move LG into Smyrna.

    3. DonC says:

      Those were loans, right? Nissan still has to pay back the money if the plant closes.

      1. DaveMart says:

        Dunno the details, Don, and as I said, the headline figures often bear little relation to the money which would be lost due to plant closure.

        A good example is the headline $1.2 billion by Nevada for the Gigafactory,

        That is over 20 years, and includes all sorts of rebates from rates and so on over that period.

        I would have to study the figures for each site in detail, and someone would have to pay me to do so, to give you a proper answer!

      2. Josh says:

        Those were 10 year low interest loans. As long as Nissan doesn’t go out of business, we get that money back no matter how they use (or don’t use) the battery plant.

        Same loan Tesla took for Model S production. They already paid it back to stay away from the bad press though.

    4. evnow says:

      Bill that was a loan. Nissan just built the big building – but the battery equipment was always going to be ordered and installed based on the demand. No different than the huge NUMMI plant Tesla has that can make 500k cars a year but Tesla has equipment to make less than 10% of that.

  10. Bill Howland says:

    Ok I stand partially corrected in that I was overstating the case aparently.

    But I still say Ghosn would have not made too bad an error if he had released an Infinity, or some other upscale model, AND/OR SUV, CUV, or truck using up more of his batteries. I assume if he made more batteries the plants would be profitable, and thousands of US and Brit jobs would not now be at risk.

    Perhaps as you say, the best outcome at this late date is to firesale the joints to LG, and hope they can make the discarded refuse profitable.

    1. evnow says:

      Nonsonse. Hardly the best outcome.

      BTW, Nissan didn’t release another EV using the batteries because of hot climate problems they had. It made sense to correct the problem before making another EV.

      Best outcome would be to ask LG to lease the building in TN and manufacture their cells there, if they want Nissan to use the cells. I think Nissan is the big fish LG wants to catch – since Leaf will continue to be the largest EV in for some time to come.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Well Evnow, its only nonsense since I’m not privy to the High Level executive level wheeling-dealing that you are.

        But I think the chance that Nissan’s production line and LG’s are instantly compatible is small. LG might rent the space, but in the end want to do things their own way with their own procedures and own production line equipment. In that case whatever Nissan had would be sold at a considerable discount.

        But then I don’t have access to their private phone calls and emails.

        1. evnow says:

          Just saying fire sale is hardly the best outcome.

      2. DaveMart says:

        That is pretty much the way LG operate anyway.

        Build a unit near to where the batteries are wanted, with plenty of room to put in other units as demand expands.

        I don’t think they would have a problem using the Nissan site instead of shipping from Michigan, which GM might not like anyway.

        1. Dave K. says:

          The Smyrna plant just assembles the cells from electrode materials shipped from their suppliers, I would assume the only thing that would change is who those electrodes come from. possibly some small changes in processing as well. Don’t really see any reason this means the plants go away.