No, The $29,990 Nissan LEAF Doesn’t Have a Small Battery So It Can Compete With Compacts

2 days ago by Domenick Yoney 87

2018 Nissan Leaf in red

2018 Nissan Leaf in red

Since Nissan debuted its 2018 LEAF, there has been a lot of conversation about it and the 150-mile range its standard 40 kWh battery will provide.

One take in particular, from Bertel Schmitt at Forbes, pushes the notion that this battery is actually the perfect size because it keeps the price of the car to $29,990, and therefore allows it to compete against traditional compact cars, rather than other EV’s like the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 or $36,620 Chevy Bolt EV with their 210 and 238-mile respective ranges. If he actually believes that, I have a sword once wielded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi I am willing to sell him. Act now, quantities are limited.

2018 Nissan LEAF

This is not to say that the price point is not an important part of Nissan’s strategy. The 2018 model’s $29,990 MRSP is lower than the 2017’s $30,680 ask, and the additional 43 miles worth of battery makes for a much better value-per-mile of range.  With utility substantially increased and its appearance more palatable to a wider range of tastes, no doubt sales will go up.

Still, it’s just not going to convince a lot of people who are shopping in the sub-$20,000 market where compact vehicles, such as the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, and Volkswagen Golf, dwell. Sure, some people can reach price parity by discounting up to $10,000 in state and federal incentives, but the truth is, most of the people shopping for these small cars don’t have the incomes that allow them to take advantage of the $7,500 federal tax credit.

The more likely scenario is that the LEAF will take some sales away from traditionally-powered compacts, from the other electrics, and from hybrids, plug-in or otherwise, that wear similar pricetags. In fact, hybrids might lose the most market share to the LEAF especially in Japan where the new range of 150 miles (241 km) can make a huge difference in usability. Evidence of this, one way or the other, will appear soon, as the 2018 LEAF will be available in the Land of the Rising Sun first, starting October 2nd.

2018 Nissan LEAF battery

Schmitt also goes on to poo-poo the idea of having a bigger battery than 40 kWh (despite the fact that Nissan will be doing exactly this later in 2018), saying that adding more energy storage would mean more weight, which in turn would require “a beefed-up structure to carry the extra load.”

While that might make sense to someone with limited industry knowledge, the truth is there shouldn’t be a big weight differential between the 40 kWh Leaf and the ~60 kWh upgrade because the packs will use cells with different chemistry.  The bigger one, of course, will use cells that are more energy-dense. Both packs will have to fit within the same space and so should be relatively similar in weight.

It would have made a lot more sense to offer both options right at the outset, selling the 225-mile expected range of the ~60 kWh pack, while simultaneously trumpeting the lower cost option.

The only reason we can think of for not doing this is supply and existing contracts. Nissan and partner NEC have sold AESC, their battery building unit, to Chinese company GSR which will likely supply all the 40 kWh battery packs, and then free up Nissan to perhaps buy the cells for the ~60 kWh pack from LG Chem. For whatever reason (supply, or pre-existing contract between Nissan and GSR), LG Chem can not supply those cells to Nissan at this point in time, and so the Japanese automaker has punted the larger pack to some time later in fiscal 2018 – roughly a year after the 40 kWh battery’s arrival. Stuck with this lemon of a supply chain situation, it’s behooves them to make marketing lemonade and talk up, for now, the virtues of a smaller battery and lower price point, and so that is what they are doing.

In our opinion, Nissan launched the single battery option out of necessity rather than choice, and now it has to aggressively market what it can actually sell.

Source: Forbes

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88 responses to "No, The $29,990 Nissan LEAF Doesn’t Have a Small Battery So It Can Compete With Compacts"

  1. John in AA says:

    It is acceptable to stop reading when one gets to “Bertel Schmitt”.

  2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    Not Active TMS, NO SALE!

    1. ffbj says:

      It’s their Achilles Heel. So the chemistry is better but that does not obviate the need for TMS.

      It’s like the solved the problem of battery failure in the near-term, but only addressed part of the problem of battery life, and how best to extend it. It’s like all they’re doing its just getting by, and that’s the way:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWa7w3Sd_RI

      1. Victor says:

        I was thinking the same thing but I didn’t want to rain on their parade. There’s no terminal management system. Air cool for car batteries is totally inadequate. I had a 2012 Nissan Leaf on a 39 months lease. When it was new I was getting 72 miles per charge, when I returned it I was getting 55 miles on a full charge. I live in Baltimore Maryland.

    2. sveno says:

      Motor Trend said “cooled with recirculated air”

      1. ffbj says:

        Yeah, right, blowing some hot air, just like Nissan.

      2. Quebec 100% EV says:

        sveno – I’m pretty sure that has since been debunked. It appears that the 2018 has exactly the same “passive cooling” as the 2017, i.e. basically a sealed oven.

        1. sveno says:

          But eNV200 has active air cooling. Maybe they have learned?

    3. KenZ says:

      For some, sure. For others, not an issue. Depends where you live. The problem with this strategy by Nissan though is that it’s now puts the burden on the consumer to be extremely well informed about batteries and their driving environment prior to purchasing. Anyone on this forum will easily know whether a Leaf battery is good or not for them. The regular consumer… not so much.

      1. Confused says:

        I live in an area that is 60-70° most of the year and I still saw bad degradation. The issue is heat when charging at anything above normal household current. Even a cool day will cause a car to get hot in the sun and then add in charging heat.

      2. Lou Grinzo says:

        Yep. I live in the NE US, and my Leaf, in service in my household since 3/2013, still hasn’t lost a bar.

        For me, the only question about replacing my car is whether I’ll get a 40 or 60 kWh version. Very eagerly awaiting the price and availability date and other details on the 60 kWh variant.

        1. Steve says:

          So get the bolt, it’s thermal battery management is great. I’m sure the 60kwh leaf will cost about the same

          1. Brian says:

            Did you even read his comment?

            I too live in the Northeast, and have seen some, but tolerable degradation on my 2012 Leaf. The new ones are even better. TMS is nice to have (necessary in hot climates), but not a deciding factor for me. I will chose the car based on the whole package, not just one feature.

        2. Amy K says:

          I also live in the Northeast United States (Massachusetts) and my 2012 Leaf is turning 6 next month, has 61,000 miles, and has lost 2 battery bars. I’m glad to hear the 2013 chemistry is doing much better!

  3. neptronix says:

    The Leaf with a 40kwhr battery is already 1000lbs heavier than a Chevy Bolt with a 60kwhr..

    Obviously weight was not a concern when they designed the car.

    1. George S says:

      Linky on wt!

    2. Astros says:

      This is often-repeated misinformation. The 2018 Leaf will have a curb weight of 3433-3508 lbs (depending on trim), which is slightly lower than the Bolt. See the table at the end of this article, for example: http://www.motortrend.com/cars/nissan/leaf/2018/2018-nissan-leaf-first-drive-review/ . The nearly 1000lbs higher number that is sometimes quoted is the maximum loaded weight, including passengers and cargo.

    3. Tom says:

      Yeah that sounds straight out of conspiracy land right there. Citation please.

      1. SJC says:

        That was a mis quoted weight publish that kept being quoted. Instead of listing the curb weight they listed the maximum total weight.

    4. bogdan says:

      Do you get your disinformation from facebook?

  4. Mikey says:

    “the truth is, most of the people shopping for these small cars don’t have the incomes that allow them to take advantage of the $7,500 federal tax credit”

    This is wrong.

    Median income per car mentioned:
    – Focus: $94,375
    – Cruze: $58,226
    – Jetta (I couldn’t find the Golf): $80,000

    To owe at least $7,500 in federal taxes, you must make about $55k, which includes the standard deduction. So the median income buyer of all three of these cars would qualify for the full EV tax credit. Mortgage interest deductions would bring it up somewhat, but not a lot.

    Most people who don’t qualify for the full tax credit are buying used cars, not new cars.

    1. Mark.ca says:

      If they don’t make enough they can always lease it and get the credits that way.

      1. William says:

        You are spot on!
        Leaf Lease is the way to go for the full Fed Credit, if you can’t maximize the whole $7.5k!

        1. Will says:

          Yeah I make week so no tax credit for me. That’s why I’m going to lease my next EV

          1. Will says:

            Yeah I make 32k a yr so no tax credit for me. Lease is my next option for a new EV after my volt starts breaking down

      2. Asak says:

        Considering no active battery management, lease is the way to go with the Leaf anyway.

        I’d be willing to buy a Bolt, Volt or Model 3, but not a Leaf.

    2. Brandon says:

      Assuming they are single, have no kids, and don’t own a home or make any charitable contributions. I theoretically make enough to get a large tax bill but all of the above means the government always owes me thousands, not the other way around.

      And given that my parameters are not exactly uncommon, and I’m making an engineers salary,
      it’s not common to get a $7.5k tax income tax bill unless your, once again, either making bookoo bucks, or your single living in an apartment, and you don’t give to charity.

      1. David Gould says:

        Of course I don’t know your specifics, but this does not seem plausible. Assuming an engineers salary of $120k you will have had something like $25-30k deducted during the year. If your refund is anywhere under $18k, you can use the whole $7500 EV credit.

      2. Confused says:

        I believe it is pre-deduction tax. Check with you accountant.

      3. Alonso Perez says:

        Then lease. Problem solved.

      4. Tesla4theWin says:

        Wrong, you are forgetting you already had tax witholding from your paychecks, so the few thousand refund you get when you file your tax return is AFTER already paying likely 20k+ in taxes, i.e. your total liability is what matters not the additional tax owed or refund you get later after accounting for withholding.

        I know this because with my Tesla and after deducting from my 90k salary the personal exemption, mortgage interest, property tax, charitable contributions and sales tax on the purchases, I had a refund of a several thousand and then 7500 refund on top of that since i already had withheld a significant amount and it was still over 7500 tax liability.

    3. Tyler says:

      I make about $60k/ year. At the end of the day my taxable income Is only like $38k.
      Fed and state combined I pay maybe $6000. You can’t use the entire $7500 fed tax incentive on a $60,000 income. You have to make $80,000+ to utilize the whole thing… Or be single with no deductions.

  5. CCIE says:

    Have they said yet if they’re going to abandon Chademo in favor of CCS? It would be nice if they did so we’d only have two fast charging standards to deal with (CCS & Supercharger).

    The original Leafs will be mostly unusable/unwanted in 5 years, so leaving them without a fast charging option wouldn’t be that big a deal anyway.

    1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

      What’s the ratio of CCS vs Chad right now?

      1. protomech says:

        According to DOE:
        https://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/

        CHAdeMO
        1,633 electric stations
        1,980 charging outlets

        CCS
        1,159 electric stations
        1,401 charging outlets

      2. CCIE says:

        Chademo had a big lead. But, basically everyone except Nissan is behind CCS in the US. It seems foolish to increase the cost of future fast charging stations by including Chademo ports on them.

        On the plus side, most people installing fast chargers today install either dual-plug units, or CCS-only units.

        Installing Chademo-only units really makes no sense. Even Nissan should stop doing it at dealers since it’s very possible they’ll have to switch to CCS in the US at some point.

        1. ffbj says:

          Yeah. I mean, they have been vilified for holding on to this archaic standard. I read it was dead in the U.S.

          1. CCIE says:

            Chademo isn’t dead in the US yet, mostly because Nissan installed a ton of the chargers at its dealers. I suppose they can keep it alive on their own. But, I can’t see why they want to. Cutting the coward with the Leaf 2.0 would have made the most sense.

            1. Will says:

              Chademeo are everywhere here in Ohio at Wal-Mart’s EVgos They are not going away

              1. CCIE says:

                Yes, a lot of the fast chargers are dual-plug. But, will that make sense going forward when manufacturers introduce CCS EVs, while only Nissan uses Chademo?

    2. protomech says:

      “Have they said yet if they’re going to abandon Chademo in favor of CCS? It would be nice if they did so we’d only have two fast charging standards to deal with (CCS & Supercharger).”

      No.

      Currently Nissan is the only manufacturer shipping EVs using CHAdeMO in the US in any volume. Mitsubishi already dropped CHAdeMO from the Outlander PHEV, Hyundai has switched to CCS, and Toyota seems to have no real interest in battery electrics.

      Every other manufacturer with near-term production plans is supporting CCS in the US.

      The 2018 LEAF will use CHAdeMO with a 50 kW input limit. That’s fine, it’ll continue to work with existing CHAdeMO stations and many stations currently under construction or bid will be dual-standard.

      If the e-Plus in 2019 supports 100 kW input then it may switch to CCS in the US.

      “The original Leafs will be mostly unusable/unwanted in 5 years, so leaving them without a fast charging option wouldn’t be that big a deal anyway.”

      The existing CHAdeMO and dual-standard 50 kW stations will likely continue to work, though I think most people will have replaced the short-range EVs within 5 years with cheaper EVs with 150+ miles of range. These short-range EVs will be continue to serve admirably as commuter-only and around-town vehicles.

      1. Asak says:

        I’d like to think the Leaf will be a good commuter, but given battery degradation seen in them will the 80 mile versions even have a 40 mile range at that time?

        I think Nissan has really done their buyers a disservice by not allowing not only replacement but upgrade to the larger size pack their model is capable of. In fact they shouldn’t even offer the lower capacity pack as an option for any first gen Leafs.

      2. jelloslug says:

        Don’t forget that Tesla sell chademo adapters for their cars. It’s not standard, but it’s still available.

  6. unlucky says:

    Say what?

    You suggest that it makes sense to offer both options because the 40kWh has a lower price.

    Is that not the same as the Forbes article says?

    Making the car cheaper helps them pick up buyers below the Model 3 range. And that probably does include a bunch of traditional compact buyers.

    There’s no argument here. Both agree the option avails a lower price and offering it is a smart move.

    I really don’t get why this article was written in this way.

    1. Mint says:

      Agreed.

      Reading between the lines, Forbes is saying Nissan chose 40kWh to get the f*** out of the way of Tesla.

      Quite honestly, that’s a smart strategy. Every non-Tesla EV with 60kWh will have awful global sales in the next few years, IMO.

      1. LeafOwner says:

        Many believe they chose 40kWh because that’s all they have available from their failed battery endeavor, AESC. If true, all the rest is marking hype to cover ongoing poor management decisions.

        What’s that sound in the distance? Why,it’s LG Chem singing the mighty mouse song: “Here I come to save the day.”

    2. Alan says:

      I like the suggestion that because the 60 kWh battery will fit into the same space it must weigh roughly the same.

      Polystyrene & Gold spring to mind !

      1. William says:

        I’ll take your “Polystyrene and Gold” Physics argument, and raise you my “Turkey Feathers and Lead Shot” assessment!

      2. Asak says:

        Considering the Leaf weighs about the same as the Bolt while not being that much larger, it seems at least plausible that larger capacity batteries don’t necessarily weigh that much more.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “I really don’t get why this article was written in this way.”

      I don’t, either. It seems rather biased against Nissan.

      We can debate the wisdom of Nisan stubbornly refusing to put an active battery cooling system into its BEVs, but there’s no question that the Leaf is successfully capturing the low end of the plug-in EV market. Like it or not, Nissan is making money selling the Leaf! In fact, it’s entirely possible Nissan’s profit margin on the Leaf is much better than what GM is getting from either the Volt or the Bolt EV.

      As has already been pointed out, the lease option is quite attractive. Who cares if the battery pack fades prematurely, if you’re going to end the lease in 2-3 years anyway?

      1. Will says:

        Thank you. Nissan don’t care if it’s lease and they can resell it at 15k for it after they get 7500 from the feds and 9k from you plus your trade in

  7. Patrick says:

    I kinda agree. 225km of range from the 40kwh base model leaf is enough for most people. i wouldn’t spend more on the larger one if it was me.

    1. Mark.ca says:

      +1
      The range is fine, that’s hot the problem…tms is.

    2. needa says:

      I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want an EV with a 150 mile range and slow charging? With a car like that… you are severely limited. When searching on Craigslist you are limited to a 50 mile radius. When you figure out that your car can’t suit your needs you are limited to the same 50 mile radius when you get on autotrader. ‘I mean’… you are pretty much going to have to give up a few friends because your car isn’t going to be able to go see them and get back without having to charge. You could barely get from one end of Phoenix to the other and back without having to charge, ten months out of the year. Did I say barely? Because in some instances it wouldn’t be possible.
      For me the bigger pack is an absolute must, no matter what the car is. If only for that one day a month, so you don’t have to alter your lifestyle.

      1. Patrick says:

        Multi car Family. And i live on a Island. 200km range is lots

        1. Will says:

          I’m not driving and spending for big battery for one time of the year.

      2. Confused says:

        50 miles is more an issue of my time rather than range. Not a lot of things I want that will get me to drive 100 Mike’s.

      3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        needa said:

        “I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want an EV with a 150 mile range and slow charging?”

        According to one survey, 55% of PEV owners say they have never charged their car away from home. So for fully half of PEV buyers, a limited fast charge ability is irrelevant; they always slow charge. Presumably a lot of those drivers have a “hybrid garage”, with a gasmobile they use for longer trips.

        If you never drive the PEV further away from home than half its range, and if your commute is comfortably less than 150 miles, then this car should be plenty good enough.

        So, Needa, why do you find it hard to understand that many people would be attracted to this car, especially given the low, low lease price?

        1. needa says:

          That is not what I said. You need to look at the context.

  8. georgeS says:

    even 30K is too much for this car.

    I think Jay’s assessment is more accurate:

    Nissan is known for good lease deals which will make the car more affordable than the 30K implies.

  9. Vinod L says:

    I believe the author missed the realty of leases: if this new Leaf has a $199 payment, the lease company gets the 7,500. In California, a $2,500 tax credit (or higher if low income) takes care of the down payment. So, 150 mile range for $199, with fuel savings and maintenance savings, will beat a $300+ lease on the Bolt or no lease on the Tesla Model 3. So this strategy is a very good one for Nissan. Once both 40kWH and 60kWH are available, we’ll know which is more popular: low price or more range.

  10. Acevolt says:

    I consider 300 miles a minimum. Just think if they sold a Honda Civic with a 4 gallon gas tank, no one would buy that.

    I am looking forward to the Model 3 with 310 miles of range. This will be really helpful for those trips that won’t require supercharger stops.

    My Model S has 240 miles of range which I really consider as 150 miles for trips.

    1. Tyler says:

      I hear this comment all too often… 300+miles as a minimum.
      While I’d love to own a car with this range, active thermal management and a Nationwide fast charging system, an $80,000+ car is not feasible.
      The $30,000 car does the trick with 150 mile range.
      The 30kwh first gen Leaf with 100 miles of range does what I need it to do.
      Until I can afford the 100kwh model S, the leaf it is.

  11. Murrysville EV says:

    “With utility substantially increased and its appearance more palatable to a wider range of tastes, no doubt sales will go up.”

    I’m not so sure. The 18 Leaf will be competing against the Bolt, TM3, and a host of other wannabes. This isn’t 2011 anymore.

    The problem with longer range is that you begin thinking about how to use it on the road, and that’s where non-Tesla charging protocols limit the utility of the EVs which use them.

    1. Tyler says:

      Those other cars start at $5000 and $7000 more than the leaf. A loaded leaf is $2000 less expensive than a base Bolt and it’s a better looking car.
      You load up a model 3 and it’s $20,000 more than a loaded leaf.
      A $30,000 car is completely out of reach for me. A $55,000 one is half of my house.

      1. silversod says:

        Same here. £30K is way out of reach for me too, As good as the 2018 Leaf is I shall be looking forward to when all the ex lease trade in Gen 1 leafs will hit the streets at rock bottom prices, Even 55/60 miles range will be good enough for me as I rarely do more than that in a week, Roll on next Spring.

  12. bro1999 says:

    Teslabjorn stated that the 40 kWh Leaf will have no liquid TMS, and that the bigger battery 60 kWh Leaf due sometime next year will be able to charge at 100+ kW rates. I would think the 60 kWh Leaf will HAVE to have liquid TMS to support those fast charging rates.

    Question: what is the highest possible DCFC rate on CHAdeMO currently?

    1. georgeS says:

      “Teslabjorn stated that the 40 kWh Leaf will have no liquid TMS, and that the bigger battery 60 kWh Leaf due sometime next year will be able to charge at 100+ kW rates.”

      Hey Bro do you have a reference. That’s a pretty big deal.

      All I’m finding is Ioniq video but that’s impressive as well.

      Looks like Ioniq is charging a 30 kwh battery at a Crate of 2=60 kw.

      That’s a whole lot higher C rate then Tesla!!

      1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

        I would never compare C rates for charging……lol

        Model S 75, 85, 90, 100 for instance charging at 1C already beats the charge rate of the ioniq. I prefer miles per the first 30minutes.
        🙂

        1. Mikael says:

          Well.. then imagine those vehicles with the same C-rate as the Ioniq….

          Then you understand the importance. 😉

          Or imagine a 75-100 kWh Ioniq with the same C-rate. *drooling* 😛

    2. Ron says:

      I am not sure what is being manufactured or marketed. According to https://www.chademo.com/technology/high-power/ CHAdeMO protocol enabling charging with 100kW continuous power/ 150-200kW peak power (400A x 500V) was published earlier in 2017.

    3. ffbj says:

      Not likely.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “…the bigger battery 60 kWh Leaf due sometime next year will be able to charge at 100+ kW rates. I would think the 60 kWh Leaf will HAVE to have liquid TMS to support those fast charging rates.”

      Seems extremely unlikely to me. Why would Nissan design the new Leaf to have an active cooling system, but leave that out of cars with the smaller battery pack?

      Makes no sense. Even the smaller battery pack would benefit greatly from an active cooling system.

  13. kbm3 says:

    It seems like a lot of people underestimate the price difference. In reality, the savings of $6k vs, the Bolt can make a huge difference to many.

    1. ziv says:

      Base Bolts are already selling at $34k near me on Truecars. I wonder if the Leaf will sell below MSRP as well. Hope so.

  14. ffbj says:

    I think this was about the best overall look at the 2018 Leaf, not by a guy who was invited to the debut.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCmI_nx36X4

    1. LeafOwner says:

      Ah ha! Just as I suspected; the basic chassis is pretty much the same all the way back to the 2011 and why not, if it works; same motor with an updated inverter to drive the motor at a higher input power; same suspension system and pretty much the same internal dimensions and battery space.

      I wonder if the sheet metal will swap over?

  15. Joel says:

    I’m not a fan of Bertel Schmitt in the least, but saying he has “limited industry knowledge” is just untrue. He’s been associated with the auto industry longer than I’ve been alive.

  16. Steve Smith says:

    Nissan is not forcing anybody to buy the Leaf, even if it has TMS or not. If it fits your lifestyle you should buy it. If it does not, don’t. I drive 52+/- miles a day and I can charge at work if I need to. I have said numerous times on threads that the Leaf is not a cross country car. I would not rent a Sentra to do the same trip. And if I get a job that is more than 100 miles from where I live, I will move. My 2014 BMW M3 depreciated more (percent) than my Leaf… Go figure.

  17. Samwise says:

    They will not be offering both at the start as they will be supply constrained at release anyway.
    Even if the 60 kWh doubled demand they wouldn’t be able to meet it until production has ramped up significantly.
    Why complicate the process until you need to.

  18. przemo_li says:

    So LG do have extra tens of thousands 60kWh batterues around?

    Why then Bolt ramp up is not bigger?

    No LG didn’t had that capacity and maybe Nissan didn’t had money to invest in LGs capacity.

    But still, that capacity is not laying in LGs magazines…..

  19. mxs says:

    It seems that most US publications always find some wrong doing with non-Tesla manufacturers, regardless how positive message they try to deliver.

    The world does not revolve around US or Norway, so to many parts of the world it simply is true that the price is more important than range. Nothing complicated about that. To question weather Nissan did they research right, is simply laughable. To suggest they did that for some other reasons they explained is just as laughable.

    I will take Bertel Schmitt over 99% of the posters here, even though they do appear to be the utmost experts on supply chain and parts constraints … LOL … seriously.

    Hint …. there really is world out there beyond Tesla and US.

  20. Anderlan says:

    The fact that we are debating the merits of a 40kwhr car coming in just under $30k makes me giddy. Recall the intended 40kwhr base Model S was $57k.

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