Longer Range 2016 Nissan LEAF Coming This Fall? We Think So, Here Is Why

2 years ago by Jay Cole 159

Longer Range Option Coming For 2016 Nissan LEAF? We Think So. Here Is Why

Longer Range Option Coming For 2016 Nissan LEAF? We Think So. Here Is Why

We have heard a lot about other automakers’ bold new visions for future, longer range electric cars recently.  The Tesla Model 3, GM’s Chevrolet Bolt, any number of German press releases – but little from the company who has almost produced 200,000 LEAFs.

In fact, Nissan has been eerily quiet all year while other OEMs have touted future products.  Which has lead many to question the company. “Has Nissan dropped the ball and fallen behind the other EV makers?”

We think this is highly unlikely.  In fact, we think all the data is pointing to Nissan surprising the market and announcing a longer range option for the LEAF this fall in the United States.

Here are our top three reasons to believe Nissan has something up its sleeve for the 2016 model year, which first arrives fall.

UPDATE (Sept 10th): 2016 Nissan LEAF CONFIRMED with 107 mile EPA range (full details, specs and pricing here)

Nissan LEAF Production

After back-to-back years of approximately 8 months worth of production for the 2013 and 2014 Nissan LEAF, the current 2015 model year car is uncharacteristically planned to run almost 18 months (April 2014 – September 2015) before the 2016 edition starts to land at dealers in October/November..

Nissan 2013-2016 LEAF Production Timelines (aprox)

Nissan 2013-2016 LEAF Production Timelines (aprox)

So, why the unnecessarily long wait?

Also, one has to note that the next generation, longer range LEAF is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Q2 2017 according to the company, which is just after Nissan’s current “Power 88” 5 year plan ends in Q1 of 2017.

This means there will likely be no 2017 model year LEAF, but a new 2018 model debuting in later 2016/early 2017 with deliveries sometime around March/April 2017.  Therefore, an unchanged 2016 version would have to soldier on a torturous 18 months – all while facing the introduction of the 200 mile Chevrolet Bolt and into the reported introduction year of the Tesla Model 3, not to mention the other 22 plug-in models that have been announced to arrive before 2017 ends.

Nissan’s Executive Vice-President & Planning Boss Said So

Nissan's Head Product Planner, And Ghosn's Right Hand Man, Andy Palmer Said So

Nissan’s Head Product Planner, And Ghosn’s Right Hand Man, Andy Palmer Said So

When close to a next generational launch (within 6-12 months or so), car executives clam-up until the last possible moment, so as not to bastardize current gen sales.

Need proof of this in the real world?  GM hardly said anything about the next generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt (details) until it hit the stand at the biggest auto show venue in the world this past January in Detroit at the NAIAS – just four months before production ended on gen 1.

Yet the 200 mile 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV (details) which stands to really damage nothing in GM’s present stable, also debuted at the exact same show, almost 2 years ahead of its arrival.

However, when a product is still several years out, auto executives can’t help but divulge “future-tense” details.

Enter Ex-Nissan VP of Product Planning  Andy Palmer almost two years at the Frankfurt Auto Show (who recently left the company last September to take over the top job at Aston Martin) who casually said at the time:

“For sure within the current model cycle,” when commenting on a real world, ‘reliable’ 200 km (124 mile) range, “the LEAF was introduced in 2010 and is expected to have a six-year life…We can do 200 kilometers now (2013). But it’s a cost balance. You can go to bigger batteries, that is relatively easy, but the more interesting stuff is the changing of the chemistry to get more kW hours out of the same packaging space.”

The 2016 model year LEAF will be the last full year of production, and it only makes sense to offer longer range batteries in the same package before switching to full production of the next generation car.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn Said So

Nissan's Carlos Ghosn Says Big Upgrades Coming Inside A Year For LEAF

Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Said In March That “Something MUCH More Competitive” Is Inside A Year

The most common place that new knowledge slips out of an automaker is from the lips of the boss – most notably after a long day at an auto or trade show.

This year (March 2015) from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Carlos Ghosn said the following on range autonomy on the LEAF, answering a question about delivering more battery life than will enable people to travel and transport longer.

“First you are going to see evolution of the autonomy.  Today the autonomy is between 100 to 115 miles (NEDC rating of various model year LEAFs range from 109 to 120 miles currently in Europe).  You are going to more than double this…we are going to, and others also, because we know, we follow all the technology developed by some of the suppliers.” 

The CEO adds that also “like any new technology the costs are going down, because there is much more efficiency, much more supply base moving in.  So I’m much more optimistic that we are going to get to something much more competitive in the next year to come.”

Conclusion

Putting all the data points together, we think that a longer range option for the current generation, 2016 Nissan LEAF, first arriving this October/November is a very strong possibility.

In Theory, Nissan's Current Generation LEAF Battery Pack Could House As Much As 38 kWh OF Next Gen Cells

Nissan’s Current Generation LEAF Battery Pack Could House Many More kWhs Of Capacity With New Tech On Board

Add in the fact the CEO also recently said at the New York Auto Show last month that Nissan has high upcoming sales expectations for the LEAF (despite selling just over 30,000 copies in 2014)

“…selling 50,000 EVs in North America should not be, in my opinion, a task which is beyond our capacity”

With an already slow start to this year’s LEAF sales, and the additional sales pressure that will be applied by the 2016 Chevrolet Volt PHEV (and its 50 miles of all-electric range) in September, we see no way this 50k level could possibly be achieved until at least 2018, that is, at least without a range increase (or significant price cut) on the 2016 model.

Given the density of the next generation cells that Nissan (and LG Chem) are expected to produce, the current 24 kWh pack could be expanded to as much as 36-38 kWh without any significant modifications needed.  That would mean a theoretical limit of about 120-130 miles…or just about bang on to what Nissan promised was coming years ago.

Author’s note:  we feel that something along the lines of 30-32 kWh and 110 miles of new/total range seems like a more reasonable assumption given the low (non-existent) expectation of greater range from the market, and also to maximize the bump for the next generation car in 2017.

So, is Nissan hiding in the weeds right now?   Are they waiting as long as they can, in order to sell as many 2015 LEAFs with 84 miles of range, before surprising the market?  Or has the industry leader with 4 LEAF-platform production facilities around the world, and more than $5 billion invested in the car, actually been caught flat-footed and is being passed by the other players?

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159 responses to "Longer Range 2016 Nissan LEAF Coming This Fall? We Think So, Here Is Why"

  1. Josh says:

    Great speculation Jay!

    Nissan held their cards close on the original launch of the LEAF also. As opposed to GM who let everyone follow the whole development of the Volt.

    It would be great to see the Volt vs. LEAF round 2.0 this fall!

    1. leaf owner says:

      GM took the Volt from 38 miles to 50 (about a 30% increase without significant change in the pack size). If Nissan does the same — 84 to 110 miles. Puts them into the same range as Kia, VW, etc… and buys them life in 2016 —- until the all new 2017. I’d bet on it!

  2. Cavaron says:

    I don’t believe it, but I would love it! Can’t imagine that it’s just 50k Leaf sales a year with something like a full usable 38kWh battery / 130 miles range.

    1. That’s 50k LEAFs per year at the Smyrna, TN plant which is operating at over capacity … as the largest volume vehicle production plant currently in the North America.

      It is entirely possible for Nissan to re-allocate production for to models with a new model year introduction. Currently the recently redesign Rouge and Nissan Altima are both in the 100k’s per year category setting new sales trends. Delivering 50-150k vehicles per model year is standard operating procedure for Nissan.

      I’d expect Nissan will be able to supply the global market and meet demand when it introduces its’ next generation of EVs! With EV production in Asia, China, Europe & N.Anerica Nissan has great supply lines and logistics to be able to deliver.

      PS:
      The question not covered in the article is not if Nissan is developing a nextgen EV, rather how many EV models will they introduce in the next planning cycle?

    2. Nix says:

      Personally, I say yes, it is absolutely happening.

      If enough people say the same, that will set expectations that Nissan WILL do it, pushing Nissan to live up to perceived expectations.

      *grin*

  3. jmollard says:

    Launched with a 2011 model, last upgraded in 2013, so sure it’s due for a 2016 model upgrade again. It could even be a major remodel. Nissan has also said Tesla proved that a more conventional styling is in demand. What auto show will they announce it?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Won’t be any major remodel for this fall. Next gen LEAF is definitely a 2017 CY product.

      1. Scramjett says:

        SMH – I’m confused. Are you saying that they are just going to keep the current design and bump up the battery capacity and range? NOT release the second gen? Why would they increase the range by 50% (based on your numbers) for a model design that is long in the tooth just to come out with a second generation that is only another 50% greater in range? I can maybe see a modest 5-10% increase in range, but I have a hard time with a 50% increase in range. A range increase of that much on the current generation Leaf would very likely cannibalize the sales of the 2nd gen Leaf (especially if they price the 2nd gen higher).

        1. Jay Cole says:

          I’m suggesting (as Andy Palmer did 2 years ago), that Nissan could be placing 2nd generation cells in the 1st generation car as an option…giving it anywhere from 100 miles to a theoretical maximum of 125ish miles.

          It is assumed (either way) that in Q2 of 2017, Nissan will launch an all-new LEAF with 150+ miles of range. At that point the previous models would be obsolete in comparison.

          So this next 18 month+ production run of the 2016 LEAF, if it has a longer range option (at a price premium) could easily see Nissan sell a further 50,000-65,000, but more importantly keep the company positioned as the leader in the segment and dovetail/lead nicely into the next gen car.

          The alternative (also a possibility) is that Nissan does nothing, range stays the same, and sales continue their downward trend, meaning Nissan has to sell an inferior product until sometime in 2017.

          1. Gibber says:

            This could also answer the question as to why the e-NV200 North American launch was scheduled so much later than elsewhere….

          2. Assaf says:

            Jay,

            This has been exactly my line of thinking/argument.

            In terms of market momentum, this range bump-up is already overdue. Nissan is losing ground every month, both vs. in-segment competition and in lack of expansion into the broader market.

            Question is, do they have the engineering/product-integration ability of doing that? You have access to better information than I do about that.

            If they do, than stalling for another ~2 years would be an uncharcteristically unwise decision on behalf of Ghosn et al.

            If they don’t, then they have sure let their engineering team slack the years away.

          3. Scramjett says:

            Ah, I see. I understand your line of thinking. I’m not sure I agree that is how it will play out, but it does make a bit more sense. Personally, I’m thinking they’ll stay the course with the Leaf until 2017, but we’ll certainly find out one way or the other soon enough! 🙂

          4. Interesting @Jay that you’r saying just ~50,000 over the next 18+ months. Is this assuming the US LEAF pricing remains the same, or do you speculate Nissan will lower the price as they pass 100,000 US LEAFs .. 200,000 LEAFs globally?

            *I think the only significant LEAF price decrease with 2013 MY and N.America production localizatoin.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              What I am suggesting is that a longer range LEAF would likely sell in the order of 50-65k worth of cars over ~18 months of 2016 MY production (maybe more – depending on the capacity of production, and of course the amount of the new pack sizing) at a higher average price…just given it sold 30k in 2014. It would naturally just hoover up all the demand in the US market for low cost, all-electric cars.

              I honestly don’t see any significant price cut regardless happening here.

              But if the model just gets dragged along ‘as is’ (same basic price-point/84 miles of range), sales are probably (best case) over that same 18 months of 30,000 imo.

          5. Aatheus says:

            Nissan already offers the option to buy a new battery for old cars, too. I can see 2014 and 2015 MY LEAF owners upgrading their packs, if they want to keep the “weird” styling of the current generation. If I owned my 2014, rather than leasing it, I would do so.

            1. Jeff Songster says:

              Owning a 2013 and 2015 LEAF… the replacement upgrade battery idea appeals to me. Where ICE cars need an engine rebuild… we will simply swap batteries when these get really tired. Now that the 30kWh battery has virtually been announced… we just need confirmation that it is retro-fittable to these older cars my kids will inherit when I get the 2017 200 miler.

      2. No Aero edition LEAF for N.Anerica like that introduced in Japan in late 2014?

        Realize no major changes to the drive train; but the Aero LEAF does offer a number additional trim and styling choices. It would be nice option to see for the 2016 MY LEAF.

  4. Boukman says:

    I do expect to see a 32kwh battery as an option on the 2016 Leaf. I also think that 32kwh will be the standard battery of Leaf 2.0, with an optional 48kwh battery.

    1. Not expecting any manufacture to make major changes to battery pack for just a model year, or two.

      For example … the Tesla Roadster pack upgrade has taken 9-12 months of engineering to complete in-house testing; and need to be re-certified to meet NHTSA and other regulatory standards before being offered as an option to purchase.

  5. Someone out there says:

    Another reason: the Kia Soul EV has been universally praised for its longer range than competing models.

    1. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

      Yes – if the Kia Soul EV were available in more than 2-3 states it would present real competition against the LEAF.

      Of course, so would the Golf EV, Spark EV, Fiat EV, RAV4 EV, Fit EV …. etc …. etc

      1. Someone out there says:

        I’m sure it will be.

    2. Jeff Songster says:

      I compared the KIA SoulEV to the LEAF before buying my second LEAF. The range was barely more… and much to my surprise when I got my 2015 it seemed to have more original GIDS in the pack than the original cars had. So the 9 EPA rated miles more that the KIA had weren’t enough.

  6. Sublime says:

    If this is the case, the battery plant would need to switch to producing the new chemistry sometime before September, maybe as early as June/July. This is also around when I’d expect the announcement to happen.
    The LEAF was shown for the first time in Tokyo on July 26th, 2009. Wonder if they’ll choose that day, 6 years later to show a range extended model.

    1. Lensman says:

      Nissan has three battery factories supplying Leaf production; one in Japan, one in Tennessee, and one in the UK. All three supply Nissan assembly plants in their respective countries.

      But there has been a surprisingly well-publicized internal disagreement in Nissan over whether to substantially reduce the output of these factories, or to shutter them entirely. Nissan plans to buy battery cells from LG Chem to supply their new “double the range” Leaf, which from reports is slated to debut in 2017.

      Bottom line: Nissan will not be making battery cells for the “double the range” Leaf in house, at least not initially. We’ll have to wait and see if they can eventually manage to produce something in-house to compete with the new LG Chem cells’ performance and cost.

      I’d love to be a fly on the wall at those meetings where Nissan argued over whether to reduce their own battery making, or shut it down entirely. What would Nissan need to do to match LG Chem’s product? Is it just a matter of figuring a way around LG’s patent protection, or — and I think this is more likely — is it that they can’t match the low per-kWh cost LG chem has been able to put on their new batteries, perhaps due to more efficient, higher volume manufacturing techniques?

      If Nissan is serious about building long-range Leafs in large numbers, then they need to pony up the money to build one or more equivalents of Tesla’s Gigafactory, instead of making their production dependent on an outside supplier like LG Chem.

      1. Jim says:

        I am willing to bet a lot of manufacturers build their own version of a gigafactory, once they see how well Tesla does with it. For now, they are betting against Tesla, waiting to see if it fails. When it does not, they will be be playing catch up.

        1. Dwight says:

          Absolutely!

  7. John says:

    They will have to come out with something better before the end of the year or lower their price to stay in the game.

  8. Draighven says:

    Even if they do come out with a longer range pack for the current Leaf, I doubt it will be in the +120 range, more likely they will put just enough in to beat out the Kia Soul for range then wait for the big upgrade to make the 2017 gen 2 leaf look better on paper.

  9. Marshal G says:

    “like any new technology the costs are going down, because there is much more efficiency, much more supply base moving in. So I’m much more optimistic that we are going to get to something much more competitive in the next year to come.”

    You could read that as a price drop for current model/battery

  10. Anderlan says:

    The way to make people go ahead and get this years version is because it’s better than last years version, even though the version 2 years from now will be *even* better. That’s how it works in computers. People realize the innovation will just keep going so you have to just go ahead and buy something now.

    1. Anderlan says:

      I said those 2 sentences backwards. The way to avoid cannibalizing sales in EVs is with incremental improvements as often as possible.

      1. Anderlan says:

        So this approach from Nissan makes sense.

        1. Ocean Railroader says:

          There is another thought to it about computers you could upgrade your existing computer if the next generation computer comes out by replacing the motherboard on it or adding a bigger hard drive. You could do one or the other or both.

          But the reality is a electric car is a lot easier to upgrade then a computer. Pretty much if the existing car has DC Quick charging on it and all the existing futures on it. The car’s only biggest handle cap is the range which means the batteries are the root of the trouble for the electric car. You could upgrade the batteries and in theory not mess with everything else on the car.

          1. Lensman says:

            Upgrading the battery pack alone makes no sense. A more powerful battery pack needs a more powerful inverter, which would allow (altho not necessarily require) a more powerful motor. Also, if it doesn’t absolutely require a more powerful onboard charger, it certainly needs one.

            Putting a more powerful battery pack into an EV without any other changes would be like hot rodding a gas guzzler with a more powerful engine, but then limiting the car to the same acceleration and top speed!

            1. Brian says:

              You have that backwards. Adding a better battery is like adding a larger gas tank. Yes, it might also be like upgrading your fuel pump (i.e. it can deliver more power), but you absolutely don’t have to use that extra power. The existing inverter and motor would function just fine, albeit at a lower power than the battery could handle. But we aren’t talking about power (acceleration), but energy (range).

              1. Big Solar says:

                right.

              2. Lensman says:

                Brian said:

                “The existing inverter and motor would function just fine…”

                You’re gonna be using batteries with a higher energy density, which likely means higher voltage. Yet you think the old inverter will work?

                Well, perhaps. I’d like to see that point addressed by an electrical engineer, which I’m not.

                If you -did- stick to the old inverter, then you’d miss out on the improved efficiency one could get from regenerative braking, as well as the faster charging possibilities -and- the better acceleration from increased power to the motor.

                And no, increasing the kWh of a li-ion battery pack isn’t a simple as putting a bigger gas tank into a gas guzzler. At the very least, you’ll need to update the BMS software, and update the software — and possibly some of the hardware — of the power electronics.

                A battery pack is -much- more integrated into the operation of the entire EV than a gas tank is integrated into a gas guzzler. Especially a li-ion battery pack.

                1. Brian says:

                  Agreed, a battery is much more integral to a car’s design than a gas tank. My analogy was oversimplified. But yours missed the point. Yes, you may be missing out on some POWER improvements, but I think the bigger complaint from owners is ENERGY (i.e. range). This would be a stop-gap to carry them over to the next iteration where they can start from ground up again.

                  Regarding voltage, there are two assumptions you are making.

                  First, that they will use the same number of cells to get the pack voltage. You are correct that the CELL voltage is likely higher, but it’s the PACK voltage that matters. You are implicitly assuming that Nissan’s engineers cannot find a way to stack the cells to get to a different voltage. Heck, DC-to-DC voltage translators exist if it really came to that.

                  The second assumption you are making is that the inverter will not work with the higher voltage. Many/most inverters have a fairly generous input voltage range over which they can operate. And again, even if the same number of cells puts it over that range, it is likely that some number of cells in series would work.

                  The assumption I am making is that Nissan’s engineers will be able to find a solution which doesn’t require replacing the inverter or other external electronics. Again, it may be sub-optimal, but I’m willing to bet they would find plenty of buyers for a Leaf that is basically the same, but with 120 miles of range.

                  Finally, as for the BMS and software updates, you are absolutely correct. But those are both part of the battery pack to begin with. Again, I’m not talking about swapping out CELLS one-for-one, but rather replacing the entire PACK.

                  1. Lensman says:

                    Brian said:

                    “You are correct that the CELL voltage is likely higher, but it’s the PACK voltage that matters. You are implicitly assuming that Nissan’s engineers cannot find a way to stack the cells to get to a different voltage.”

                    You’re absolutely right, I realized that after I made my post. Thanks for the correction.

                    Brian continued:

                    “The second assumption you are making is that the inverter will not work with the higher voltage. Many/most inverters have a fairly generous input voltage range over which they can operate.”

                    Well, as you say, the voltage depends on how the batteries are organized (in series and in parallel), so you’re right, that’s not really a limit. The limit is how much power the inverter can handle. If it’s designed to work with a pack of N power, can it handle the power from a pack with N x 1.5 or N x 2 power? If the pack has more kWh, that means either more amps or more volts, or both. Either way, it’s more power. How much can the inverter handle?

                    Again, I’m not an electrical engineer, so I don’t know. Common sense says there has to be some limit on how much power coming from a battery pack any given inverter could handle. But again, I’d like to see the question addressed by someone with some experience in the field.

                    1. Brian says:

                      FWIW, I am an electrical engineer, although this is a little outside my particular area of expertise.

                      But what you are missing is that the inverter is not automatically a victim to the maximum amount of current that the battery can source. Rather, it’s the other way around. Based on the commands from the controller, the inverter will draw enough current to supply the requested power. None of that has to change – the inverter, controller, and motor can remain the same. You are correct when you say the Inverter requires a certain voltage. I’m sure that the battery would have to be configured so that it generates a voltage that is close to the current battery.

                      Think of it this way – say you have a 60W incandescent bulb in your house which you replace with a 10W LED bulb. Both bulbs run at 120V, but the latter takes 1/6th the amount of current. The LED bulb doesn’t burn out just because the circuit can supply (at least) 6x the amount of current it requires. In the case of an EV, the grid is replaced by a battery and the bulb is replaced by the inverter/controller/motor/etc. Just because the battery can supply 1.5x – 2x the current doesn’t mean it burns those things up. The battery is just supplying the Voltage (in older terminology, the “pressure”). That’s the key parameter.

                  2. Bill Howland says:

                    Ah, Poor Lensman:

                    “…If you -did- stick to the old inverter, then you’d miss out on the improved efficiency one could get from regenerative braking, as well as the faster charging possibilities -and- the better acceleration from increased power to the motor….”.

                    Correct me if I’m wrong Brian but I was under impression all leaf’s had regenerative braking on the ‘old’ inverter.

                    Faster charging possibilities? You must mean L2 improvements since the battery is directly connected to the Chademo Jack. The ‘old inverter’ has nothing to do with charging, so i’m told. A 3 kw improvement (3.6 to 6.6) is a $1780 option. So Expensive that if I bought a 48 kwh leaf it would have the standard charger. Another three thousand watts for $1780 isn’t worth it to me. Yeah you get the Chademo jack also, but there’s none around here at even 140 miles away.

                    Better acceleration from the same motor? I’d hope not. I wouldn’t want to burn the existing motor out.

                    Does Lensman make these posts just to see how outlandish he can be? Just once I’d like to see a sane, factual post.

                2. Wayne says:

                  Each Li-ion cell can handle a maximum of 4.7v. The size of the charger is irrelevant. Add more cells and it Just takes longer to charge. However the way the power is distributed and drawn may change depending on how the cells are wired.

            2. alain says:

              we only want more range ! who cares if it could go faster .they could sell lots of new batterys two ,old leafs would love to have bigger bat. I didn’t lease ,i would love a bigger bath. and love the car as it is.the speed it charges is fine.

              1. Lensman says:

                Larger capacity battery pack + same inverter + same onboard charger = longer charge time to get to 100% (or 80%).

                I don’t think you’re gonna like that.

                1. Djoni says:

                  Lensman.
                  Inverter and regen are mostly software dependant than hardware dependant.
                  It’s the way a drive unit is program or set for a particular need that is at the heart of those thing.
                  In general a particular drive unit is made to accomodate a certain range of duty and power.
                  Acceleration, max speed, torque ect.
                  You could also overspin a motor to a certain extend.
                  The industrial world sometime push the motor at twice the speed that of a fix rpm motors.
                  Drive give you this possibility
                  Nissan tweak the torque down a bit in the MY2013 to get more range.
                  They most certainly have some spare to rise it up again.
                  Same with inverter, same with the charger.
                  Many of these unit are overbuilt, because it’s a safety margin and because it doesn’t cost that much too provide more capability.

                  1. Djoni says:

                    Oh, I forgot to mention that some power tool company have upgrade the power of their tool by a factor of 2 in the last 5 years with the same battery pack of the same voltage.
                    Meaning you can switch your old pack in newer tool and the opposite without any problem.
                    You just have much longer running time with the newer more energic pack.
                    So puttin more capcity in the same size battery have been done. Why not in Leaf?

                2. Tim says:

                  Unless the charging rate decreases, who cares? You’d still be charged by morning with a home L2 charger. If you are out and about doing and charge at a public charger, do you care more about what % of your battery gets charged or how many extra miles you get? Its how many more miles of range you get that matters and if that is equal, who cares about your % full?

                  1. alain says:

                    bingo plus 1!

                  2. Lensman says:

                    Tim said:

                    “If you… charge at a public charger, do you care more about what % of your battery gets charged or how many extra miles you get? …who cares about your % full?”

                    Well, you certainly have a point: There is no -rational- downside to putting in a higher capacity battery pack but retaining the same charging speed, where speed is measured in kWh per minute/hour, and not measured in percentage.

                    However, people are not rational animals. Based on a very great number of comments in EV forums, we can be sure that if people do upgrade their battery packs without enabling faster charging, there will be a lot of complaints about “But now my car takes longer to charge!” They’ll complain it takes longer both at home and at public chargers.

                    When it comes choices people make when buying (and upgrading) cars, perception is at least as important as reality, and perhaps more so.

                    1. Sublime says:

                      Both of you have good points. To people that have driven an EV all that matters is MPH charge rate… however most of the public have not driven an EV. When those people ask me about charging my LEAF they want to know how long it takes. I say, “I get about 25 miles of range per hour on my home charger”. They say, “So… how long to full?” and you can see how the conversation goes from there.

                      I was explaining to a coworker the other day, that when you get to a Tesla sized pack, you ironically really only need a 110v charger at home. That the battery is a buffer of miles and that most days you’ll drive fewer miles than you’ll charge overnight. It took him a really long time to get his head around that and he’s an engineer! Good luck with your average joe/jane.

                      So if Nissan is looking to win market share, that means selling to people who have never driven an EV. Which means putting a 10kW charger in it, even if that makes no sense at all, because because a 3-4 hour charge time sounds better than a 6-8 hour charge time.

                    2. JP White says:

                      The time it takes to recharge the vehicle after a normal day of driving will be identical.

                      I drive 72 miles per day with a 24kWh battery. If I drive the same distance with a larger pack, it will recharge in the exact same time.

                      EV drivers don’t wait until their cars are out of charge before recharging, they recharge when they get home.

                      The only scenario it will take longer is if the car is driven further and no one will complain the car is charging more slowly, they will understand that the further you drive the longer it takes to replace the miles.

                      The only folks I hear much from about the slowness of recharging are those who don’t own an EV. Don’t forget that most LEAF’s have rapid charging capability which is plenty fast.

  11. Chris O says:

    This analysis makes total sense. IMO the dorky Leaf needs a new body style also but upping the range should keep it alive until the next generation arrives, provided it comes at no extra cost.

  12. Brian says:

    Thank you for putting all of these tidbits into one place for us. I wouldn’t bet money on this happening, but I wouldn’t bet against it either. (I guess I’m not much of a betting man 😉 )

    I think it’s highly likely that they would want to put the new chemistry into the old Leaf, increasing its range. I’ve always believed that the Leaf 2.0 will have a physically larger battery – the current one only takes about 1/2 to 2/3 of the length of the car. The larger battery plus a denser chemistry could easily give double the range. But why not put that chemistry into the current package?

    This also potentially helps resale of the existing fleet, if you can upgrade to 36kWh in the future. It doesn’t have to compete with new Leafs either, if the new chassis has enough room for a 50kWh battery. I know I would think long and hard between adding 50% more range for $6k, versus trading in for a new car for $20k+ (depending on the trade-in value of my 2012 Leaf).

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      If you could do that to a existing leaf it would be on the same level of cost as a major rebuild of a engine or transmission on a gas car so it wouldn’t be too bad.

      I’m planning on trying to get a hold of these next generation leaf cells to add to a Mitsubishi i-miev to create a 200 mile range i-miev.

      1. JP White says:

        To get hold of LEAF cells you will have to look at scrap yards. Nissan only sell the replacement batteries on an exchange basis.

  13. Jonathan says:

    This move makes a whole lot of sense for Nissan and I’d be thrilled to see it happen (even though I bought a 2015 Leaf last August). Here’s why. (1) 120 miles is actually just about the sweet spot for most drivers. That would be a huge improvement and more than most of us would need. (2) There are a lot of Gen1 Leafs out there and re-sale prices are hitting them really hard right now. If they build a pack with more range, that also fits into the 11-15MY cars, this would be a huge boost to re-sale. It also helps them deal with lease returns, that will soon be flooding their lots. (3) It keeps people in the brand. If come 2016, there’s no sign of a Gen2 leaf, then existing leaf customers start moving over to Volt or Bolt, possibly put deposits on Tesla3, etc… But if current leaf owners know that there a larger replacement pack option, and its reasonably priced, maybe they keep their cars, maybe they drive them a bit longer. (4) It helps them benefit from the inevitable loss of the $7500 tax credit. Nissan will be the first manufacturer to lose this and it will hurt them when it comes to being competitive. If they can keep their Gen1 owners in their cars longer, maybe sell them a new pack, they can transition them into a Gen2 in2018 or later, once everyone starts losing the credits.

    1. alain says:

      good point !

    2. A 2015 MY LEAF will not need a battery upgrade before 60,000 miles …more likely 5+ years and 100,000+ miles.

      By year 2020+ expect the number of options for replacement packs increase & price drop substantially. Many owners will likely keep a LEAF as a low cost 2nd EV as the replace their longer range IC with a newer primary BEV.

      Other than special events the average driver rarely travels more than 150 miles per day. Even then the number of 150+ mile days per year can usually be counted with fingers.

      1. Jonathan says:

        I’ve got 10,500 miles on my 2015 (MFG4/14) and I am still getting 287 GIDS (originally 292) from my pack. That’s about a 2% decline over 10K miles and a 1 year old pack. Oh and I live in CA. This is a huge improvement over prior model years. At this rate my pack will likely be at roughly 80% capacity (or better) at 100K miles. The 2015 Chemistry is much improved!

        I have yet to see a 2015 pack disassembled so as far as we know, they may be using new cells that are more compact. perhaps there’s already space in there for more?

    3. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Yes, I think the Gen 2 Volt is a big deal in this instance.

      If Volt 2 has a rated range of 50 miles, then Nissan is at risk of losing some Leaf customers who are in the current sweet spot of 40 to 50 miles. The USA is the key PEV market and they really don’t want to lose it.

  14. Benz says:

    “Nissan surprising the market and announcing a longer range option for the LEAF this fall in the United States.”

    That would be really great.

    They might announce it in Frankfurt or Tokyo or Los Angeles.

  15. Alan says:

    Well, they have been testing for nearly a year now a “double” battery car so maybe they have either managed to get the cost down or density up or a combination of both ?

    Can’t for one minute imagine they have been sat on their hands knowing what’s coming at them from all angles and doing diddly about it.

    Will be no surprise to me whatsoever if it’s around 168 EPA this fall.

  16. Dr. Strange says:

    I’ve been thinking the same. Why would they blow their big lead? If they are smart, it will be an option in the $2-3K range, not simply an upgrade for all MY16.

    1. Spark is better for me because.... says:

      ….a $110 a month negotiated lease with NOTHING down but $900 something for drive off costs for 84 miles (really we know its more) is way better than $300 a month for 20 miles more in Leaf SV.

      Think about that dollar value. For people with SAE combo QUICK charge, like the major metros where Sparks are sold, its a much better option.

      In MY quick charge rich area, I would ONLY get the leaf plus IF the price were the SAME.

      Because it’s too close to 2017 to get caught in a 3 year less on anything BUT a super value spark ev that will take me through initial launch price gouging that nissan WILL do for all the dutiful early adopters.

      I even said no to a $150 a month volt lease this weekend. They are desperate at the end of the month to get rid of these things before 2016s come in because once the do chevy dealers can no longer LEASE 2015s!

      nissan is a different story.

  17. David Murray says:

    This does all make sense. And I’ve been expecting the 2016 Volt to take a huge chunk out of Leaf sales. With 50 miles of range and a range extender, it will again be in a class of its own. And pricing hasn’t been announced on the Volt, either. If there is any sort of price cut that makes it closer in price to the Leaf, then Nissan will have big problems on its hand. They’d have to lower the price or increase the range.

    1. The Volt will not be sold globally. No competition for Nissan.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        The USA is by far the largest market for the Leaf, and in 2014 accounted for more than half of global sales. It would really not be good for Nissan to lose that market.

  18. Dave R says:

    Nissan is overdue for a capacity increase. Just look at how the Volt has steadily increased in capacity over the years – it’s gone from 16kWh to 17.1kWh from 2011 to 2015.

    The same for improvements to the LEAF would bump range to 90 miles. Not earth shattering, but sounds a lot better than 84, for sure.

    Now if you look at the ’16 Volt, it has 15% more than the original. That would get the LEAF up to 97 miles – oh so close to the magical 100 mile mark…

    1. David Murray says:

      Good point. Also, if you just look at the Volt from a standpoint of total battery capacity, you’re right. BUT, if you look at the Volt from a standpoint of increase in usable miles of range (going from 35 to 40) then that is a 14% increase in range. If the Leaf were to increase by 14% it would be around 96 miles of range. That would be a significant and welcome improvement.

      1. Brian says:

        Interesting observation. Back in 2009, GM was claiming the Volt would have 40 miles AER and Nissan was claiming the Leaf would have a range of 100 miles.

        1. Josh says:

          I would agree that they missed their marks, but the EPA did move the goal posts by changing the testing standards along the way.

          1. David Murray says:

            And I’m glad that did since the current testing is far more realistic.

            1. Lensman says:

              And how! The original test standards for PHEVs gave nonsensical figures, which is how GM wound up advertising “230 MPG” for its Volt.

              And shame on GM for actually using that meaningless number in its advertising.

              http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/chevy-volt-gm-230-mpg-photo01.jpg

              On the other hand, it certainly is confusing for the EPA to increase the range rating on the Leaf for a model year in which no change was made to the car to actually increase range. But at least the change wasn’t that great.

            2. Brian says:

              I agree with you both. I was just pointing out that they both seemed to have missed by about the same percentage. That just wasn’t a calculation I had done in the past.

            3. Josh says:

              I totally agree. The EPA standard is by far the best estimation of range.

              I really wish there was a better way of expressing range, other than a single number. Some sort of automagic app that took into account a person’s driving habits and climate.

        2. Bill Howland says:

          With the Heater off I get 42 miles from my 4 year old Volt. So,
          if they promised 40 I’m not disappointed, especially in view of its age. If they promise 50 with the new one, then i’ll get 60 miles. That’s as much as some BEV’s, and more than that in the wintertime.

          The Roadster Promise was better than the S. Until recently that is. The S was promised at 300 miles. The Roadster EPA is 244 miles. Lately they ‘promised’ a 400 mile Roadster. ‘340 miles with juice to spare’ isn’t quite the same thing.

          With some modest changes, I get 244 miles, or sometimes a bit more, on my 44,000 mile 4 year old Roadster. I’m not complaining about the range. But then any promises were much more conservative than those made lately.

  19. I wonder if automakers will ever offer snap-in modular add-on packs. Snap in four 3kW packs in the trunk, or under the rear passenger set, get an added 40 miles range.

    It sounds crazy but the motorcycle guys (Zero, etc) are doing it now.

    1. David Murray says:

      That’s not as easy as it sounds. Any cells you add to the car would have to match the voltage of the existing battery pack. Which means they’ve have to be an entirely different cell, hence a totally different production line. Also any new battery capacity would need to have its own balancing, cooling, and ECU. So it’s a pretty expensive proposition.

      1. Lensman says:

        Yeah, I was wondering how they handle the necessary change to the BMS (Battery Management System) to keep the cells balanced. Perhaps each module has its own independent BMS? Or do those EV motorcycles use something other than lithium ion batteries? If they’re using something else, a BMS is less critical.

        Various comments above make it clear that a lot of commenters don’t understand how integrated a li-ion battery pack is to the engineering of the entire EV drivetrain. It’s not as simple as putting a larger gas tank into a gas guzzler.

    2. James says:

      I agree. A modular pack design could give manufacturers the flexibility they need to stay ahead of market trends.

      It seems today, the 80 mile BEV has a niche in the clean commuter category, and as prices of battery cells drops and energy density increases there will be more room to provide the market with choices.

      The initiative is in Ghosn’s court now. Does he want to expand the market or sit pat on his in-town commuter LEAF?

      I believe there is a large chance GM could botch the marketing of the Bolt. The name of the vehicle itself seems a blunder. Just think what will happen once the marketing geniuses get ahold of it. If Bolt is a sales flop, a 150 mile LEAF may not fare so well either. This is the point when the angels are in the details. Pricing could prove to place a 150-mile LEAF in the catbird seat while everyone else misses the target.

  20. pjwood1 says:

    At the margin, I wonder if more PHEV battery miles eats into Leaf 2 sales, regardless of the 130-140 that many may still find challenging.

  21. Absidu says:

    Very good motivation for Nissan to upgrade this year since they competing with VW in Europe not with oil prices.
    They already have motor which is 15% more effective (available in new ZOE). If they upgrade battery density by 15% it will result in 110 miles range. Not a breakthrough but it surely will spur sales.

    1. arne-nl says:

      The motors in the Leaf and Zoe are unrelated and totally different. The Leaf has a permanent magnet motor, the Zoe an induction motor. It is 15% more efficient compared to the previous Zoe motor. Compared to the Leaf motor? I don’t know of any comparisons. Maybe the new Zoe motor is still less efficient than the current motor in the Leaf.

  22. JohnL says:

    Good argument, Jay. Look at it this way, if they don’t do something in the fall, they will fall from being the designated leader in this price bracket to follower. Forfeiting a well deserved lead position is a big step backwards.

  23. Luis says:

    Good reflexion, but I think you should have considered other mechanical factors on top of the energy density of the cells. Nissan should also profit from the advances Renault has made for the Zoe. The R240 has improved a 14% the range with the very same battery. An improved engine, more efficient and lighter would take the Leaf with 38 kWh up to 136 – 148 miles.

    1. arne-nl says:

      See my comment above. The Leaf and Zoe motors are so different that it is unknown whether the Leaf motor can be improved upon very much (at a reasonable cost).

      On top of that, the current motor in the Leaf has already gone through a redesign to make it cheaper and more efficient.

      1. Luis says:

        very intereting, dankje!

  24. MAM says:

    Would be interesting if they offered like the Tesla Roadster an upgrade package for current leaf owners…

    1. Sublime says:

      Nissan has been saying that if you do the $5k battery replacement, you’ll get the “latest chemistry”. They have to have some solution, because if a 2015 needs a pack replacement after they switch to the new chemistry they’ll have to replace it with something.
      Yet another reason it makes sense for Nissan to go through this design exercise on the current body and offer it as a 2016.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        What I’m wondering about is if you have to get your older pack replaced under range degrading policy. If they replace your decaying 2012 or 2014 battery pack with the new chemistry will they simply only put have the batteries to keep the battery pack at the old range or will they replace the whole thing and you get more range.

        But at least the new higher density batteries make it cheaper for Nissan to replace batteries in that they will need half as many of them to replace a battery pack.

        1. alain says:

          they always change the whole thing ,nobody mess Inside battery packs .

          1. Lensman says:

            Right. For lithium-ion batteries, the entire pack has to be carefully balanced, so all the cells have exactly the same voltage at any time. Getting the pack out of balance leads to rapid aging (loss of capacity), plus truncating the charging or discharging limits. EV battery makers go to a lot of effort in ensuring every battery cell in a pack is well-matched during assembly.

            Simply replacing just some of the cells in an old li-ion battery pack with new ones would damage or ruin the entire pack. Any replacements need to be carefully matched to what’s there.

  25. Priusmaniac says:

    I find it hard to have enthusiasm for a 36 KWh battery unless there is a Rex like in the i3, but for a pure bev anything south of 70 KWh is not realistic and real surprise only starts above 100 KWh.

    1. Lensman says:

      Huh?

      There isn’t a passenger vehicle EV on the market with a 100+ kWh battery pack. And I think you’ll find that for the Tesla Model ≡, a battery pack in the neighborhood of 45-48 kWh will prove to be entirely sufficient for a large number of drivers. 150+ miles of real-world range should be sufficient for 95%, or more, of driving done by 90% of drivers.

      1. James says:

        I agree with you Lenseman, if that equation also includes: A)a more reliable and prevalent quick charging infrastructure B) A more reliable and prevalent type 2 charging infrastructure

        150 miles of range still doesn’t instill public confidence over range anxiety. Again and again I see the Volt as the way forward until a 200-250 mile BEV becomes available for Volt or Prius Plug-In MSRP.

        To press my point – remember high volume vehicles sell on the premise of what they are capable of, not necessarily how that buyer ends up using it in reality. Cases in point are performance cars and AWD vehicles in trucks, CUVs and SUVs.

        So if the general auto-buying public perceives even a hint that they may be stranded or inconvenienced, the 150 mile BEV will still fall short of consumer expectations.

        1. James says:

          * a REAL 200-250 mile range. Not just in 70 degree weather on flat terrain, driving gingerly.

          Hypothetically, say GM touts Bolt as “200 mile range”, but if reviewers begin writing articles while testing it in winter. This sounds ludicrous, right? This is precisely what happened with Volt. Again – poor planning by GM. Motor Trend got it’s long-term test Volt in the dead of winter in it’s Michigan offices! It wasn’t until the 1-year long term test was half over that they drove it to Los Angeles for the second half of it’s stint. By then, MT had logs filled with 20-25 mile AER, and 28MPG in CS mode! GM seems to shoot it’s electrified products in the foot at every turn by making bad decisions. Remember the hand-off of a Volt to one of it’s severest critics at FOX News? They didn’t even give him a Volt expert to drive around with and instruct him on the use of the car! So in a couple days the guy comes on “The Five” and tells the world he ran out of charge in the Lincoln tunnel on the way to work! GM repeatedly gave reporters and bloggers a Volt to drive but forgot the 240V charger. Thus all the bad stories about taking so long to charge.

          Ideally, the “200” mile range, which sounds pretty good in advertisements, should indeed be 218-225 miles in ideal conditions.

          Tesla has a clear advantage on the PR front. It has the reputation of excitement and performance. Add the position of being a luxury, upmarket brand. What this does in a car buyer’s mind is allow some slack if that 200-mile Model III actually shows a 175 mile range when pushed harder or less than ideal conditions. Put it out there for $35,000 base, and compare that with BMW ActiveHybrid3 at $51,150 base ( $56,000 nicely equipped ) at 36MPG Highway, or 320i at $32,950 base ( $36,000 nicely equipped ). Then let the comparisons begin.

          1. Lensman says:

            Those nominally “200 mile” EVs won’t have a real-world average range of 200 miles, any more than the Leaf has a real-world average range of 100 miles… which is what Nissan advertises.

            And despite Elon Musk talking the talk about the Model ≡ having a real-world 200 mile range, my bet is that this will be just as overstated as Tesla’s claim that the Model S is a “300 mile” EV.

            -All- EV makers overstate the range of their EVs, or at best state what you can get only under optimal conditions. I don’t see that changing. I don’t see EV makers going out of their way to present info to the public which points out that their cars will get much less range in certain conditions. Advertising never works that way, and never will.

        2. alain says:

          the volt is a great car but when you get a bev with 120 to 150 miles range ,and a half decent charging set up. chances are you will only charge once a year away form home.why have a motor .i charge at home 99% already with my leaf.

        3. Lensman says:

          James said:

          “…remember high volume vehicles sell on the premise of what they are capable of, not necessarily how that buyer ends up using it in reality. Cases in point are performance cars and AWD vehicles in trucks, CUVs and SUVs.”

          High performance cars may -drive- sales, that is, they may attract buyers to one particular make of car. But high-performance options in cars don’t sell that much. According to one comment I read, performance packages generally average about 10% of sales. Those attracted to high performance packages usually settle for a more modest set of options, or a more modest model from the same maker.

          James continued:

          “So if the general auto-buying public perceives even a hint that they may be stranded or inconvenienced, the 150 mile BEV will still fall short of consumer expectations.”

          Let’s face facts: Range anxiety in BEVs is a problem which is not going to be solved in the next few years. It’s very likely not going to be fully solved 20 years from now.

          For the near term, I see two solutions:

          1. PHEVs with considerably longer range. If the Volt had double its current range, an average of 38 miles as measured by the EPA, that would be 76 miles. Even with expected reduction for winter driving and highway speed, that should be sufficient for my needs. Since BEVs with double the current range are coming in a couple of years, I’m hoping we’ll also see PHEVs with double the range.

          2. Drivers who settle for some amount of range anxiety. I don’t agree with those who say that a plug-in EV has to be as good or better than a gas guzzler in -every- respect. That’s like arguing that a cell phone as to be better than a land line in every respect. We all know that reception and clarity of speech is often a problem with cell phones, when it’s rarely a problem with land lines. We all know that cell phones run out of power quickly, and recharging them every night is something people complain about a lot. Yet people now use cell phones more than land lines, because of the convenience of ubiquitous availability.

          So, I don’t agree that range anxiety will have to completely disappear before Joe & Jill Average decide to buy a BEV. It’s going to be a -long- time before super-fast-charge stations are as easy to find as gas stations are today… if that ever happens. Since most EV charging will continue to be done at home, I seriously doubt they’ll ever be as commonplace. The demand won’t ever be as high for super-fast-charge stations as it is currently for gas station.

          So, our current aim should be to reduce range anxiety. We need BEVs with longer range, and shorter charging times. I’m not worried at all about the latter; competition between EV makers is already driving shorter charging times, and will continue to do so until charging times are a lot shorter than many EV enthusiasts believe is practical.

          So, the real question for BEVs is this: How big a battery pack should an EV maker put in the car? Longer range means less range anxiety, but it also means a higher price. The EV maker must aim for the “sweet spot” to maximize sales. Best would be to offer a variety of pack sizes, to attract as many buyers as possible. Currently, Tesla is the only EV maker to offer different sizes, and even the Model S is only available in two pack sizes.

          Hopefully some of those nominally “200 mile” EVs coming in 2017 will have options for smaller an larger pack sizes.

          1. Priusmaniac says:

            Perhaps it is simpler to target the highest value and optimize to drive down costs instead of multiplying batteries. It is always possible to trickle down a battery like Tesla did for the ones that ordered the 40 KWh model. They got a 60 KWh battery but with a limit set on it at 40 KWh.
            If one target 140 KWh no matter what, the start cost of the first battery will be very high but as the numbers produced start to ramp up the unit cost will come down. If they can standardize on that one type and produce it in the millions even 140 KWh could come out rather cheap. The energy in the battery is only one part of the cost, all the packaging, the certifications, the tests, the integration, the documentation all contribute as well. If the battery is big or small, most of those other costs are constant.

  26. James says:

    After owning the Leaf, Volt and RAV4EV, I can confidently say that the RAV’s range is ideal, and I would trade the Volt today for a Leaf with a true 140-150 mile range. The Leaf was a fun car, but range anxiety was a constant. I think the Model S is a fantastic car, and I’ve driven every iteration except the new 70d, but I think hauling around an extra 40kW of battery is a huge waste of resources for someone like me who doesn’t take road trips. I think 35-45kW is the sweet spot and I expect the Leaf will hit a home run with that formula.

    1. alain says:

      what i always said 40kilwat magic number!
      +1

      1. Dave R says:

        150 mile “true range” is more like 50 kWh, not 40 kWh. EPA rating would be around 175 miles. You need to maintain a buffer for “true range”.

  27. Mister G says:

    I would consider upgrading to 2016 Leaf from 2012 Leaf (lease) if it has a 120 mile (real) range.

  28. Ocean Railroader says:

    I really think based off the last few weeks of leaf and electric car sales. It’s starting to look like that a car with 60 miles to 80 miles of range is starting to quickly fall apart really quickly. In that sales are falling apart for Nissan. Also the DC Quick Chargers are coming in very slowly. Nissan has also gone for five years without upgrading the cars range or battery capacity. Nissan as of now is running out of customers to sell a 80 mile range car too. And don’t get me started on the range wreak of the Mitsubishi i-miev.

    The Chevy Volt with 50 miles of plug in range and with a $5000 price cut would harm Nissan like someone getting shot.

    Nissan better up the range to a 120 miles if they want there electric car to survive in a era of cheap gas prices.

  29. Lensman says:

    Doesn’t make any sense to me. EVs designed from the ground up, like the Leaf, are designed around the battery pack. Just upgrading the pack without making any other major changes makes no sense at all.

    For the “double the range” Leaf, Nissan is gonna depend on using LG Chem’s new batteries, the same ones other EV makers are going to use as the basis for the nominally “200 mile EVs” coming in 2017. Can Nissan deliver a double-the-range Leaf before the others?

    I find it odd that Jay Cole’s byline appears on this article, yet in the comments Jay says:

    “Won’t be any major remodel for this fall. Next gen LEAF is definitely a 2017 CY product.”

    So what is the bottom line here, Jay? Sounds like you’re suggesting that we may see a slight increase in Leaf range this fall, but we won’t see that “double the range” Leaf until “2017 CY”, which I’m guessing means the actual calendar year of 2017. That would coincide with Nissan having to wait for LG Chem to start delivery of the new batteries, just like the other EV makers.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      We are suggesting we will see a longer range battery option inside the current platform LEAF (ala to a lessor extent the slight upgrades in range over the years in the Volt – 16 kWh to 16.5 kWh to 17.1 kWh), but the package won’t itself won’t change.

      In this way, Nissan starts/begins high volume production of the new cells and scales up ahead of 2.0, while also upgrading the current product to sell well while it recoups more of its investment in the platform in the last model year.

      Basically, for the marginal integration costs of new cells into the existing back on the current LEAF, Nissan can not only charge more/make more margin for a longer range option over the last 18 months of the car’s lifespan, but also potentially double the sales of the LEAF, had the change not been offered.

      In Q2 2017 is when you will likely see an entirely new LEAF model debut, along with a right-sized battery, appropriate for competing against other gen 2 EVs.

      1. Anton Wahlman says:

        I think you are correct, but I really don’t know for sure. At some level, I would have thought that the whole new body (Murano and Maxima lookalike) would arrive earlier, but I suppose 2Q 2017 is plausible. All the other reasoning is solid. That said, I am bracing for surprises either way. One thing I can almost guarantee: Nissan will do something on the infrastructure side, in conjunction with a longer-range LEAF.

  30. GrokGrok says:

    “Bastardize” is misused, twice — the word you were looking for is “cannibalize.” Sorry to be a grammar nazi…

    1. Jay Cole says:

      No I was going for bastardize – ie) to corrupt or debase – which is what Nissan would be doing to short term sales if they were confirming significant enhancements on the near future.

      Cannibalize would be the right terminology if this new product was actually offered on the market right now and was physically eating sales of the other offerings.

      1. GrokGrok says:

        Maybe “imperil” or “undercut”? If you look up a definition of “bastardize,” it wouldn’t fit in the article and mean what you want it to mean.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Bastardize:
          [bas-ter-dahyz]

          verb (used with object), bastardized, bastardizing.
          1. to lower in condition or worth; debase:

          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bastardize

          1. Ambulator says:

            Reducing somethings worth by coming out with something better isn’t traditionally considered bastardization. Replacing the Leaf’s lithium-ion battery with lead-acid ones would bastardize it.

            But who really cares?

  31. This would be really great! If the battery increases to 36kWh, that puts the range roughly at 126 miles. If it it goes up to 38kWh, then it should have a range of ~132 miles.

    If Mr. Ghosn is right and the range “more than doubles” – that would be enough to be an proverbial earthquake in the EV world.

    1. alain says:

      super big in my book!

  32. Eric says:

    As a European, I really don’t get the American obsession with car model years.

    If Nissan wants to turn over a new Leaf next week, what’s to stop them? And who cares what year is attached to it?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      The model year, or rather the “model year changeover” is typically when large options change occur on a vehicle, and are always when next generational products are offered.

  33. turbofroggy says:

    Why can’t Nissan just offer multiple size battery packs like Tesla? I know many-o-people who would have gladly paid an extra $4K-$6K for a double sized battery pack, including myself. The choice of 60 kWh vs 85Kwh packs from Tesla clearly shows that 90% chose the larger pack given the option to do so.

    1. LuStuccc says:

      +1

    2. DonC says:

      Maybe because it doesn’t have anywhere to put the cells. Finding the space for the cells has been a continuing challenge for all the manufacturers.

      That’s the point of the quote by Andy Palmer in the article: “the more interesting stuff is the changing of the chemistry to get more kW hours out of the same packaging space”.

  34. evnow says:

    Very low chance.

    The main reason would be the significant changes needed to produce new battery in the current size – and a year later switch to a different (I’d guess) size.

    In other words, this is likely only if the current and future packs are identical in size etc (except for the chemistry) – which I think is highly unlikely. Most likely the next gen pack will have some kind of cooling (air cooled perhaps).

    They are more likely to pull in the Leaf 2 production to CY 16 – there by beating Bolt to market, rather than do significant investments in a battery that will live for one model year.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      No debate there, it is no sure thing, (=

      I do think that given the VP was actually saying they were allowing for a current generational upgrade for the battery pack a couple years ago, that Nissan would then develop cell packaging that was size appropriate to do the job in Gen 1, as well as Gen 2…if that was indeed the plan.

      1. DonC says:

        I could see some tweaking, especially if the next generation is showing up as a 2018 MY. More than tweaking would seemingly present issues. GM got a 20% increase in volumetric energy density by making the cells larger, but larger cells would likely effect many things, including configuration, voltage, and the motor. It’s not like swapping one brand of AA batteries for another.

        Hard to see Nissan wanting to make a lot of changes if the current model is being phased out.

      2. evnow says:

        There have been multiple reports of Nissan execs saying there will be multiple size battery packs etc. The “lizard” battery could also be considered a new chemistry that is available in the current gen.

        Yes, this would make sense if the new chemistry would continue to be available in gen 1 & 2 packs.

        I’ve speculated elsewhere that we’ll get 2 Leafs going forward – the new aggressive Leaf with 150 or 200 mile pack. “Classic” Leaf with 100 or 125 mile pack. If this is indeed the case, making larger battery available now would be possible.

        Another possibility is that they’d need to upgrade the current pack with new chemistry for eNV-200. That would again make the investment worthwhile.

        Anyway, an interesting thought for sure.

    2. Djoni says:

      As I post somewhere on top of this one.
      Battery manufacturer have already done it.
      Producing more energy in the same packaging.
      Example, I bought my first M18 Milwaukee Tool with the bigger pack in 2010, it was rated 2.5 amps/hour (for 18 volts), now their latest pack push 5 amps/hour in the same packaging, same size and fit older tool that can work longer with theme.
      No miracle here.

  35. kubel says:

    If they do release a 2016 with a bigger battery, it’s very good news for Gen 1 owners, since there will be larger packs available.

    I don’t think they will, however, unless the same exact cells are used in Gen 2. I find it highly unlikely that they will invest time and money into developing an upgrade for a product that’s only expected to live out another year or two.

  36. Alan says:

    Much as I’d love to see it, call me skeptical. There’d be a LOT of ECU reprogramming needed to support a significantly higher-capacity battery pack, and IMHO Nissan has been notoriously poor about updating features for prior years. They couldn’t even be bothered to update the firmware of the ’11-’12 model year LEAFs to include the SOC display in the dashboard that the ’13 model has.

    But here’s hoping I’m wrong…

  37. krona2k says:

    They really aught to be ahead of everyone else. It would be great if the gen 2 comes out this year. I was hoping for 50kwh.

    1. If wanting 50 kWh in a production BEV, better to focus on the Model Ξ 2018/20 timeframe, unless willing to on price and buy an S70 in the next couple years.

      Most of Tesla’s competitors will stick to offering capacities in the range of 20-45 kWh until after 2020-2025. To offer 50+ kWh requires either higher MRSP, or high volume BEV production … these two parameters will correlate to kWh capacities offered for each model.

  38. Kaleb says:

    To the RAV4 EV owner that thought the 140 mile range was perfect, I would tend to agree. In most cases I only need an extra 20-30 miles on top of what my LEAF will do to cover nearly all of non-commute driving from the city to the foothills. With virtually no exceptions, if I drive more than 130 miles, I am driving thousands of miles where an EV would be impractical anyway. So paying an extra $45k for a Tesla (over the cost of my Leaf) or paying for a battery over about 50 kW would be a colossal waste of money and lithium.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      That is rather atypical to want an ev that specifically has low range. It should not be taken for granted that a more energetic battery means a larger and heavier one. It is true for a same battery chemistry but not in general terms. Actually the future batteries will be more energetic, smaller, lighter and cheaper, but for the moment we first need to get to that deciding threshold of sufficient autonomy. That’s 400 miles for me, 300 miles for many, 200 miles bare minimum for Elon but 140 miles, without a rex, that is really low. You can’t expect people driving cars that can go 400 miles and even 500 to 800 for diesels , to switch to 140 miles ev. That is not going to attract 90% of the drivers even if 90% of them do less than that on most days, they still want to be able to do more at par with their present cars.

  39. John says:

    It would be good for Nissan if they did this. It would keep them ahead of the curve a bit, and be something for buyers who don’t need or don’t want to wait and hope for even longer range EVs.

    If they don’t increase range, I don’t see sales going up no matter what other improvements they may come up with for 2016.

  40. My option:

    Like Tesla, install the LG cells in the current LEAF battery container.

    Sell the car as an 84 mile range car… $XXXX, you get incrementally more range up to the maximum available.

    Make every car long range capable, and also make every car a potential revenue source in months or years down the road.

    1. JP White says:

      Interesting approach. Back in the 80’s Wang Computer did something similar with their VS mini computers. They made a single motherboard and CPU and increased the clock speed up to its maximum in return for an upgrade fee. An upgrade was quick and easy all it took was for a tech to change a few jumpers and your VS would go faster.

      One assumes releasing the extra battery capacity would be a firmware upgrade applied by the dealer when you pay for more capacity. One can envisage a situation where someone reverse engineers the firmware and ‘sells’ it on eBay. The threat of folks reverse engineering and releasing the capacity is enough for this to be a non starter for Nissan IMHO.

  41. I’ll add that this process can “eliminate” degradation and cold battery issues, allowing more of the pack to be used when necessary to still supply the 84 mile car.

  42. ydnas7 says:

    Historically (1990’s and earlier) Nissan tends to do larger ‘big’ step improvements but smaller ‘little’ step improvements than Toyota.

    So for a 6 year cycle, expect Nissan to be overshadowed in the final 2 years. But then watch out.

    Tesla does not offer larger sizes of battery for vehicles in production, they offer a standard size, and then cut down sizes. (ie 85 -> 60 etc) Mitsubishi did the same in Japan (16 ->9).

  43. Scramjett says:

    Wow, another heavily commented article!

    What would be interesting is if they have another surprise up their sleeve like GM did with the Bolt. Nissan’s gotta be acutely aware that Mitsubishi is owning them in Europe with the crazy Outlander PHEV sales. You’d think Nissan would want to try and keep Mitsu from owning the SUV PHEV market here in the US. Maybe they have a PHEV SUV up their sleeve?

    1. Reddy says:

      Exactly. Nissan’s CEO said “50,000 EVs in North America” not “50,000 LEAFs…” My guess: They bump up the battery size slightly, say 36 kWh and put them in the existing LEAF (but electronically limited like Tony Williams suggested so that you ALWAYS get 100 mi range, not just under perfect conditions). For extra $$$, you can unlock this capacity similar to Mercedes, maybe get 120 mi by hypermiling. Then they also put these same cells/packs in a new EV, probably the e-NV200, along with the longer range. Ideally, I think they should introduce an e-SUV or CUV (probably similar to the Rogue or Juke) since the US seems bonkers over this style, but hey, it’s their company. Combined with an e-SUV, they could easily meet 50,000 EV sales even with the existing LEAF, no upgrade required. Heck, if they had enough batteries, they could sell 100,000 e-SUVs alone. Unfortunately, even with the e-SUV a nominal 200 mi range will be required because most soccer moms won’t accept running close to zero, probably no where even below 50 mi in the tank.

  44. Tom says:

    What we’re talking about here is possibly swapping out one material with another within the batter cell…resulting in improved range…not a major rework of the vehicle….that would make a lot of sense…if such a chemical or material is available…would give the Leaf 1 a boost going into its final year of sales…
    gen 2 will see other improvements in the body electronics and other components that will carry the vehicle forward….

  45. Scott Franco, the greedy republican says:

    My math says 118 miles EPA range (75 on current car).

    Seems like something missing here. Isn’t the theory that Nissan will go with LG batteries? Something like LG gearing up to make leaf compatible cells would be hard to hide… just say’n.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      The 2011-2013 LEAFs were rated at 73-75 miles on a blend. The 2014-2015 were updated/rated on even footing with the other EVs at 84 miles.

      1. scott franco says:

        Sounds right. I have a 2013.

        What about the battery thing? Nissan has signaled they were going with LG chem, right?

        1. Jay Cole says:

          From the sounds of it LG is working with them for co-production of cells (as they do in Europe now with some Renault ZE products). The Nissan USA execs have made it pretty clear they will continue to produce cells for America.

          Really the LG deal could really ultimately be anything as they have given no real specifics (other than the US commitment), but it kind of sounds like they will be mostly Euro-focused – at least in the beginning.

  46. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

    There are many examples in automotive history of marketing execs believing that a new option wouldn’t be overly popular given the price, and then being surprised. Two of my favorites are in the minivan space. When Chrysler first introduced the minivan the 5-seater was standard and the 7-seater was barely mentioned as an option. Very quickly they made 7 seats standard after market demand made it clear what they had. 20 years later they made the two-sliding door version an option a few people might want – it took them only a year to stop offering the 1-sliding door version.

    Given this history I can see Nissan trying to keep the current LEAFs in production with the weaker batteries with a price cut – say $2k – while introducing the longer range LEAFs at a $5k premium. And then being surprised that no one wants the short range LEAFs once the longer range versions are available.

    1. Mike I says:

      Agree. I think it would quickly go to 90/10 in favor of the larger pack. It would not be worthwhile to continue the smaller pack except that it is in-house and they could wind down the supply chain. That would probably lead to the decision to only offer the Leaf 2.0 with the larger pack. The more interesting thing will be if they change to LG cells, will they ever be able to build batteries in-house again. They should probably be doing their R&D to try to leapfrog LG Chem, but it’s always a moving target and they may never get ahead.

      1. Mike I says:

        The thing that may finally bring it back in-house is the need to control their own supply. If LG Chem is supplying multiple automakers, they may not give any one automaker the volume flexibility that they need. Being forced to take exactly the number of units that you forecast can be painful – on both ends of the spectrum. Having to take units that end up in inventory is expensive and coming up short hurts your ability to meet strong customer demand. In-house production is inherently more flexible than working with a supplier.

        1. Priusmaniac says:

          On the other hand if an EV producer takes 10% of the LG production and want to double that, it represent an increase of only 5% for LG but would be a hard to meet 50% increase for the EV producer own factory.

      2. Dave R says:

        Earlier speculation regarding LG would be that they would take LG’s tech into their existing factories. That way they still control production.

        I don’t think LG has the capacity to supply LEAF demand at this point in time, anyway, so they’d have to go this route.

        1. Sublime says:

          This makes the most sense to me. LG isn’t the source of the battery components, the value they bring is in the process of assembling them (which is a trade secret because it’s what unlocks the components potential with a consistent yield). I don’t see how Nissan/LG don’t come to some agreement where Nissan pays LG some royalties for running their plants.
          If the Nissan plants can crank out more supply than they need, the whole thing might be close to cashless for Nissan, where LG buys their surplus production.

  47. Andrew K says:

    So if we’re going to speculate lets do it right!

    How about Nissan updates the battery on leaf 1.0 and then keeps around the body style and reduces the options creating a 100mile real world leaf for even less cash. While also selling leaf 2.0 with a 150 miles of range and a full selection of options.

    Remember Infiniti(Nissan) did this when they introduced the new Q?? To replace the G35/6 (can’t remember either of their alphanumeric names) they sold old and new car together one at a steep discount with limited trim options.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      Going lower in price is not the immediate target but going higher on autonomy is. At present there is a bizarre situation where you either have a super expensive luxury Model S or a small super low autonomy ev. There is clearly a missing step in between which is a sedan with 200 miles. That is what Tesla is planning coming from above, but there should also be the same from Nissan coming from bellow.

  48. Jim says:

    If Nissan does provide a longer range option for the current body style, they will create a similar effect to what Tesla did in offering a battery upgrade for the roadster. It will give the feeling that buying am EV is something that can be improved in the future and what you buy may become better in time (with a cost).

    The current range is more than adequate for me. But when the time comes to buy a new battery, I cannot see buying the lesser range.

  49. przemo_li says:

    My speculation:

    NOBODY who claim 200+ cars range is hurting their own sales!!!

    Tesla? They do not sell any 40k priced cars!
    BMW? Nothing.
    Audi? Nothing.
    etc.

    200+ miles cars right now DO NOT hurt sales of speaker.

    They hurt sales of competition! 😉

    Nissan can not trout out such good news because they DO sell their cars in big quantities, and want those sales to grow, while some others can just put a bit bigger rebate to meat compliance numbers.

    Gradual range increase sure can help Nissan. They just need to introduce pricier battery for new Leafs (do not know if non-lizard versions are capable of handling better batteries).

    And they profit.
    And they have better EVs then current competition.
    And they can compete better with Tesla, Volvo and BMW.

  50. Lensman says:

    Bill Howland said:

    “Ah, Poor Lensman:

    [quoting Lensman]
    “…If you -did- stick to the old inverter, then you’d miss out on the improved efficiency one could get from regenerative braking, as well as the faster charging possibilities -and- the better acceleration from increased power to the motor….”.
    [unquote]

    “Correct me if I’m wrong Brian but I was under impression all leaf’s had regenerative braking on the ‘old’ inverter.”

    Yes, all Leafs do have regenerative braking. Perhaps you’re unaware what regen involves? It involves turning the electric motor into a generator, and using motor braking to convert the car’s kinetic energy into electrical energy, which is then routed thru the inverter (which is actually an inverter/converter) to charge the batteries. Regen is limited by various factors, such as how fast the battery pack can absorb power without overheating, and also the amount of power the inverter can handle. If the battery pack is upgraded, then it can absorb power faster — but only if the inverter can handle it.

    So, when upgrading the battery pack, the car may need a more robust inverter to maximize the energy from regenerative braking.

    “Faster charging possibilities? You must mean L2 improvements since the battery is directly connected to the Chademo Jack.”

    No, I mean a battery pack with more kWh is capable of being charged faster. That’s pretty basic, so your attempts here to demonstrate ‘superior’ knowledge are not very convincing.

    “The ‘old inverter’ has nothing to do with charging, so i’m told.”

    Well, certainly in regen, the inverter is very much involved with charging. Perhaps in normal charging it’s not; perhaps I’m confused on that point. Perhaps an EV’s onboard charger is completely separate from the inverter, rather than being part of the same PEM (Power Electronic Module).

    “Better acceleration from the same motor? I’d hope not. I wouldn’t want to burn the existing motor out.”

    Yeah, which is why in my original post I listed the motor as one of the things you might want to upgrade if you got a replacement battery pack with more capacity.

    “Does Lensman make these posts just to see how outlandish he can be? Just once I’d like to see a sane, factual post.”

    If you’d quit making troll comments, perhaps we could have a useful discussion.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Ha, very humorous. Before you arrogantly criticize, you need to go to kindergarten on a few very very basic ‘learn to tie your shoes’ issues.

      1). Regeneration involves rectification, not inversion, so everything you said about the subject is nonsense.

      2). Anyone anywhere could always add a second battery to an ICE car without any other changes. There is no necessity to redesign the whole car.

      (There is a pump priming operation going on in the Tesla’s but I’m not going to broach that issue here,, (stator excitation), since it would just lead to another tirade of verbal masturbation).

      As far as ‘superior knowledge’ goes, that takes the cake. One has to understand how things work before criticizing someone else.

      But rude commenters are never at a loss to hope someone, somewhere will benefit from their ‘advice’.

  51. DaveinOlyWA says:

    Interesting speculation but have you considered that there could be or should be an interim step involving Al-Air? I personally think there will be a 2017 LEAF released around Q2-Q3 of 2016 that will introduce the longer range which should help Nissan retain/regain the EV edge with 2017 reserved for introduction of larger platform EVs (especially from infiniti) that have the Al-Air range extender option

  52. JP White says:

    With LEAF sales softening, Nissan will need to do something and quickly.

    A price cut, especially with 6,000 in dealer inventory waiting to be sold would be step #1.

    How quickly they can bring a bigger Ah battery remains to be seen. That’s the next logical step as detailed in this article can be considered an intermediary step. Sooner the better.

    The 2.0 LEAF can then take its time to be perfected which should be a 200+ mile LEAF.