Nissan Exec: Reliable 125 Miles Of Range Coming To LEAF By 2016

4 years ago by Jay Cole 43

While No Drastic Changes Are Planned For The 2014 MY LEAF, The Same Can Not Be Said For Future Model Years According To Nissan Exec

While No Drastic Changes Are Planned For The 2014 MY LEAF, The Same Can Not Be Said For Future Model Years According To Nissan Exec

A lot of things happen at the Frankfurt Auto Show (IAA) this month and a lot was said; but lost in all the hoopla was a Nissan’s exec’s admission that the LEAF would see a range improvement of a reliable 200 km  (124.2) miles within the current generational cycle.

“For sure within the current model cycle,” said Andy Palmer – Nissan Executive Vice-President (and product planning boss) at the IAA when commenting on a ‘real world’ 200 km range, “the LEAF was introduced in 2010 and is expected to have a six-year life.”

Who Is Our Favorite "Talky" Exec Now That Mark Parry Has Left Nissan?  That Would Be Andy Palmer

Who Is Our Favorite “Talky” Exec Now That Mark Parry Has Left Nissan? That Would Br Executive VP Andy Palmer

It should be noted that while the Nissan LEAF is currently only rated at 75 miles (120 km) in the United States by the EPA, it is wildly overrated at 200 km already in Europe on the useless NEDC standard where these comments were made.

Improvements in range during a current product cycle are actually not without precedent in the electric vehicle industry.  But most have been very marginal.

Some slight improvements were seen in the 2013 LEAF, as range moved from a straight 73 miles to a blended 75 miles.  Also, the Chevrolet Volt seen an additional .5 kWh added to its battery, and a subsequent range bump from 35 miles to 38 miles as well in 2013.

Mr. Palmer further told Motoring AU at the Frankfurt show that increases in the range was attainable because the density of lithium batteries was improving quickly.

“They are developing much faster than I ever believed. Four years ago when we started on the LEAF program we imagined a 4 year cycle of the battery.  Two years ago we went to a two-year cycle, now we are modifying the battery every model year.”

Nissan To Offer Both The Standard 24 kWh Lithium Battery And A More Dense "2nd Gen" Battery In 2015?  Sounds Like It!

Nissan To Offer Both The Standard 24 kWh Lithium Battery And A More Dense “2nd Gen” Battery In 2015? Sounds Like It!

The Nissan exec did say that longer ranges were certainly achievable now, but that the density and the cost of the battery was a determining factor in determining how far the LEAF can travel.

“We can do 200km (124 miles) now. 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.

That’s because every time you add cells you add weight and the battery on a LEAF is already 280kg.  You want to get into a virtuous circle of similar weight and more energy density.”

Before going to press we did give Nissan some time/opportunity for comment or to confirm this apparent rather large development, but the company declined to comment – which makes sense; why would an auto maker confirm such a drastic improvement was in the pipeline when you have product to sell today?

So, while no confirmation was forthcoming, there are some facts to support that this longer range LEAF may indeed be a reality in the not-so-far future, as the Infiniti LE was recently delayed about a year because battery technology was advancing so quickly.

Upcoming Infiniti LE To Have The "New Hotness" Inside

Upcoming Infiniti LE To Have The “New Hotness” Inside

Some quotes from Mr. Palmer on the LE  over the past 3 months:

“There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car.” 

“Certain technologies that we see now, which we didn’t see two years ago, are going to be available in a time frame that was relatively close to where we were going to introduce the Infiniti.  Rather than miss those opportunities, and then have to reconfigure the car to adopt them in its life cycle, what we wanted to do is to bring those from the beginning.”

Mr. Palmer also confirmed the delay was a relatively short one, adding “it’s (the Infiniti LE) still within our mid-term plan.” 

We surmise that any longer range LEAF would be as an added, more expensive option that would be offered alongside the current iteration of the car.

Who is ready for an affordable 125 mile EV?  We certainly are!

Motoring.com.au

 

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43 responses to "Nissan Exec: Reliable 125 Miles Of Range Coming To LEAF By 2016"

  1. Josh says:

    That is encouraging news. I wonder which will hit the market first, the higher range LEAF pack or Volt 2.0?

    The will both likely beat the Model E to market, but we should see a nice spike is overall sales once those three hit the market ~2016. Will that be the first 500k plug-in sales year?

    1. Denny says:

      Nissan still has not addressed the issue with hot climate conditions. I currently have a Leaf and I am on the second battery after 2 years. Unless Nissan addresses the lack of a thermal management system going forward, any EV located in a hot climate will see significant battery degradation. Nissan needs to wake up and join the rest of the EV industry and build a car with TMS.

      1. scott moore says:

        Not to mention that would make the car DCFC tolerant.

      2. Dave R says:

        Nissan has said that they are working on a “hot” battery that will double battery durability in the spring of 2014.

        I am not sure that will be enough to withstand Arizona heat, but it will be a welcome improvement. Until then, I highly recommend leasing the LEAF for 2-3 years over buying, unless you happen to live in a cool or cold climate.

        The “hot” battery pack coupled with 125 real world range (when new and assuming that 125 real world miles here is the equivalent to the 75 real world miles today’s LEAF gets) will at least ensure that the LEAF remains very usable even after suffering from significant capacity loss.

        If they can basically get 85-90 miles out of the battery even after losing 30% capacity, that would still get you more usable range than you have with a brand new LEAF today.

        After 2.5 years in mild San Diego weather, real world range is down to 60-65 miles at most – and even than that’s driving very conservatively on the freeway.

      3. john ryan says:

        hi denny i have a 2012 leaf great car but i notice i am not getting the range that i first had they told me if the range deteriorates enough they will replace the battery did you get that or did you have to buy a new battery a battery is half the price of a new car

  2. Warren says:

    Mr. Palmer and I have exactly the same battery expertise….we can both read. He just gets paid a lot more to regurgitate than I do.

  3. Assaf says:

    Interesting teaser.

  4. Brian says:

    This is interesting. My lease ends in June 2015. I wonder if I can stretch it out a few more months until this battery is available…

    1. gigglehertz says:

      I’m in the exact same situation. I may just ride my bicycle or the bus for a year and wait it out. No way I’m going back to ICE. I was hoping for 200 miles but 125 would be realistically all I’d need.

    2. David says:

      Me too. I’m hoping they’ll let me extend the lease if it comes out Jan 2016. I wonder if the 2015 will have better range.

      1. Aaron says:

        My lease ends in January 2015. While it’s interesting to see what new vehicles are coming out in 2015, 2016 seems more promising. I doubt Ally will allow me to extend my $69/month lease until 2016. 🙂

        1. decke003 says:

          You must live in Georgia… you got a better deal than me.. I’m only @ $83 a month… 🙁

          My lease ends in October 2015… hopefully the $5,000 rebate will still be around. I would gladly take another one with the same range for a couple more years to see what Tesla brings to the table in 2017.

          1. john ryan says:

            the leaf i am leasing is an expensive car $35000 tesla is coming out with a $30000 model the expensive tesla has a range of 245 miles i would assume the cheaper one would have to same range that might be worth a look cheaper than the leaf and more than twice the range

  5. Spec says:

    I wonder if the late entrants to the EV market (such as VW & others) will ship their cars with stats similar to the current cars on the market only to find that the new cars from Nissan, GM, Tesla, and other EV vets have much better specs?

  6. David Murray says:

    125 miles of realistic EPA range would be a huge game changer for the Leaf if the price were to remain the same.

  7. Schmeltz says:

    That’s good (unofficial) news! My first thought was however, what will be the competiton in 2016? Volt 2.0, Tesla model E…Could be Nissan finds 125 is not enough.

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      I see the Leaf having more price reductions in the next few years. The Tesla Model E will be quite a bit more expensive – probably around $35-40k before options and tax credit. There will be plenty of space in the market for multiple pricing and range options.

  8. Bloggin says:

    It looks like EV range is incrementally expanding as expected from all automakers. With the challenge being offering more range, and keeping the price the same or lower for non-luxury brands.

    While at the same time, new models of plug-in hybrids and full EVs are coming.

  9. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    Here’s hoping they keep the external formfactor the same for the ‘new hotness’ and that they can be retrofitted to earlier cars with a firmware update…

    … unless Nissan decides to go to active liquid cooling. Which IMO they should.

  10. Nate says:

    Sorry to sound negative, but I don’t see how this benefits me over the current model. Typically I drive 15 miles a day on days I drive to work, or 0 on the days I bike. My wife drives 25-30 miles a day usually. Occasionally we take a longer day or weekend trip somewhere around 200 miles round trip, and a little less than once a year take a longer road trip (500 miles a day).

    I happen to have leased a Volt recently for my wife and we really like it. When that comes off lease I’ll be open minded to the next generation from GM, Nissan and Tesla. What does 125 miles do for me that 75 doesn’t? I’m hoping to hear from people with similar daily driving patterns, especially current Leaf owners. There could be something I’m not thinking of here

    1. Brian says:

      I guess it depends on driving patterns. If you literally never take a trip between 75 and 125 miles, it might do nothing for you. At the same time, if your 200 mile round-trip has charging at your destination, this could allow you to take the Leaf, since each leg would presumably be 100 miles.

      1. Nate says:

        There could end up being some 75-125 mile days, you never know.

        I found my use case though — trip to the coast. I’m in SW Portland area and a Cannon Beach or Lincoln City are around 80 miles away. I thought it was more miles because the drive is slow. If I had the current car I’d be looking for a pit stop to charge part way through the trip, just to be safe. A 125 mile car would make this trip easier. There would be enough left over miles once I got there to find public charging (if I wasn’t staying somewhere w/ charging access).

        1. Dave R says:

          Reliable quick charging is really what keeps one from being confident in using today’s EVs to their maximum capacity.

          Tesla is solving this issue with their Supercharger network.

          But lower-range vehicles like the LEAF really need a LOT of QC stations to give owners confidence that there will be at least one (preferably more for backup) QC station to top off at to complete their trip should they run low unexpectedly or take a detour.

          This simply isn’t an issue with gas cars – you can find gas stations on every other corner and add 200+ miles of range in 10 minutes.

        2. amary says:

          There are DC Quick Charge stations in Westport, Astoria, and Cannon Beach, so you’re covered! They’re working on electrifying the coast as well and go down to Florence now. We’ll probably do a slow, electric, road trip from Seattle down the coast next summer (been waiting 3 years to be able to do that!).

    2. Michael says:

      We have similar driving patterns. I have a 10 mile round trip commute, but I bike most days, and my wife stays at home with the kids. We live in Minneapolis but have friends and family in the suburbs at most 20 miles out (40 mile round trip). However, I would jump at the chance for 125 miles of EPA range, and even pay a premium over the base Leaf. The winter performance of the battery and the extra load with the heater make you nervous on certain trips. On one winter day with with a high of -10F I barely made a 30 mile round trip, and most normal Minneapolis winter days 50-60 miles is all you can hope for. And with that range, you don’t want to plan a trip where you are going to drop below 10-15 miles of range, especially with little kids. Getting stuck could be dangerous. You also can’t be spontaneous and take an extra trip that you were not planning on top of other driving.

    3. scott moore says:

      I have the same commute. I don’t use the volt for weekend trips, but then many of my weekend trips involve towing. My ranger is the go-to vehicle there.

      A 125 leaf would mean simply that I would not need a “booster” charge at work, which I sometimes now do if I run daytime errands during work.

      So to some extent you are correct, it would not change much for me. To make this a long distance car for me would require 200 miles on a charge, and thermal battery management so that I can use fast chargers on the road, not to mention more fast chargers.

    4. john ryan says:

      i have a leaf with around 12000 miles i noticed a slight reduction in range the lease is up oct 2015 if the 2016 leaf has a range of 200 miles i will stick with the leaf i like the car however the new model tesla i worth checking out i would think by then they will have charging stations 200 miles with charging stations will solve the range anxiety

  11. Mark C says:

    If I recall, the last time Nissan made an announcement about the greatly improved model coming soon, sales plunged while people waited a bit for the improved version. Promising a reliable 125 mile range could have people wait it out. Time will tell.

  12. scott moore says:

    My leaf lease (say that three times fast) is due in 2016. However, its really going to depend on what the competition is doing. A sexy Tesla getting anywhere near 200 miles a charge and within $5000 of the leaf price would tip the scales. If there are a bunch of 125s or even 100s at a lower price than leaf, that makes a difference as well.

    It will be interesting to watch.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I think there is some fairly high expectations on Tesla here…maybe they did them to themselves – hard to say.

      The “30k” was first quoted several years ago. Since then Musk has been fairly consistent saying that the actual price when it comes to market will be adjust for inflation, or ‘equal to what 30K was in 2009ish…so you are likely looking at something starting around $37,000 at best. I know personally I would be thrilled to see anything with 200 miles of range from Tesla starting at $40k or less.

      You are probably looking at the base LEAF starting around $25kish…plus all the regular incentives that major OEMs do all the time making it even lower; whereas there is no ‘deals’ with Tesla (at least we have not seen any yet). I’d still expect there to be at least $15K+ between them.

      1. scott moore says:

        My leaf was $32,000, I got the high end SL package, mainly for the DCFC. I think we are of like minds, Tesla 200 miles at 40k or less has me onboard in 2016. Plus there is the advantage of Tesla thermal management, and the fact that they deployed their DCFCs along californias I-5 to enable long distance driving. Add to that the style factor, all my freaking bosses here have model s’s and I have to pass them coming into my office.

      2. Josh says:

        One more tidbit from Musk recently, the price is planning on the ferderal incentive (on the first 200k vehicles) being gone. He has said $35k most recently, but I am with Jay in expecting $37k-$40k starting price. It will be $50k – $60k once you add all the options most will want. Not cheap, but still about half of Model S.

  13. evnow says:

    I’ve said this before. Nissan will have a 150 mile Leaf for $25k by the time Tesla has that $35k, 200 mile car.

    What will BMW do ?

    1. john ryan says:

      a 150 mile leaf for 25 k is a no brainer for me

  14. Just_Chris says:

    If the battery is the same size I wonder if you’ll be able to fit it into an older leaf? One of the things that has always excited me about EV’s is the possibility that you could one day be able to buy battery packs from other suppliers. It’d be great to have a leaf for a few years and then decide to upgrade the battery and be able to go to panasonic and buy a box that is better than the current pack – lighter, more power, more kWh. I’d also love to be able to buy a bigger motor. As much as I dislike people who put big exhausts and turbos on their stock cars I would really love to see some of these people “playing” with EV’s

    1. Lad says:

      There are those of us who thought upgrading the battery would be SOP from Nissan and I for one was counting on this type business model from them…I fear they will attempt to treat BEVs the same as ICE cars and force buyers to buy battery upgrades in the form of a new cars instead of an upgrade to the chassis. Tesla gets it and their business model includes the idea of upgrading the existing platforms as battery technology advances.

      My hope is on third party battery upgrades for the Leaf and I think you will see that happen in time. Right now Nissan holds all the cards; the first gen Leaf will be obsoleted as soon as a better battery is made available and their value as a used car will plummet, unless they offer an upgrade at a fair price. Their answer so far has been an attempt to rope people into a never-ending battery lease. And, that’s not an answer for those of us who have purchased the car.

      My recommendation is to lease the Leaf until Nissan starts making sense and becomes realistic about battery upgrades.

      1. Dave R says:

        Well, so far Nissan’s slightly tweaked battery module that’s in the ’13 LEAFs is supposed to be a drop-in replacement for the ’11-12 LEAFs. But then I heard that AZ LEAFs who are getting their battery replaced under warranty had to wait for a pack to be shipped in from Japan, so who knows.

        Nissan has said that they plan on keeping the modules compatible. Whether they keep that promise or not is up for debate.

        As for Tesla, they probably could offer Roadster owners a higher capacity pack based on the newer cells they are using in the Model S – but they haven’t. I haven’t seen any evidence of Tesla offering newer battery technology in old cars. Sure – they might let you swap a 60 kWh battery pack for a 85 kWh battery pack – but the cells are the same in each, you just get fewer of them in the 60 kWh car.

        Leasing the LEAF does seem like conservative advice and limits your downside risk.

  15. Dave K. says:

    Just_Chris, if Nissan doesn’t offer an upgraded battery someone else will! I can already see someone (Tesla?) offering a Panasonic retrofit with TMS. I think it’s a great solution to the lack of ongoing revenue problem, EVs need very little maintenance but if Nissan offers better battery upgrades the dealers get to install them and sell them at a markup, replacing some of their maintenance revenue.

  16. If Nissan could improve the aerodynamic drag of the Leaf to a Cd as low as the EV1, it would reliably get this kind of range with *today’s* battery. The EV1 itself is proof of this – it had ~150 miles range with a NiMH battery.

    The great thing about this is the cost of building a low drag car is basically the same as building a higher drag car, so the cost of getting a longer range is kept the same. And with a much better battery, they could get 225+ miles from the better battery!

    Neil

    1. john ryan says:

      i see that vw has a car that gets 250 mpg i am not going back to gas but still

    2. Dave M says:

      Yes!!! THis makes perfect sense. Unfortunately automakers think we’re addicted to a certain look, a certain amount of rear seat space or cargo room. Matching the EV1’s .19cd isn’t difficult. The new Mercedes CLA is now the lowest drag production car at .21cd.

      We have a Leaf. The rofline is extremely high up front, but headroom in the rear gets clost with taller adults.

      Yeah, like a few others I’m waiting for a true aero car.

  17. Tom says:

    It will be interesting to see how the Nissan Leaf competes with the Chevy Spark EV….I’d have to pick the Spark EV hands down over the Leaf….

    1. CSS says:

      No comparison based on:
      Nissan would like to sell their Leaf’s (leaves)
      GM does not want their Spark EV to sell (period)