Nissan Tests Longer Range, 48-kWh LEAF at ECOseries

1 year ago by Mark Kane 65

Nissan LEAF at ECOseries

Nissan LEAF at ECOseries

Nissan LEAF at ECOseries

Nissan LEAF at ECOseries

Nissan recently announced that its Barcelona Technical Centre employees attended a new concept in motorsport: ECOseries “which rewards efficiency and fuel economy rather than outright speed“.

“ECOseries, which is based in Spain and combines track and road-rally events over the season, attracts entries from a wide variety of road cars. Aside from the Nissan team, there are cars from rival manufacturers including Peugeot, Toyota, Volkswagen, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.”

Events are open to all types of road vehicles and to anyone with a driving license. The races are split into two disciplines: efficiency (quickest vehicles win as long as it’s used less fuel than maximum consumption set in the rules for its class) and regularity (drivers decide on a lap time and then must be as close to target as possible).

Alongside ICE cars, Nissan issued three LEAFs for the hour-long races at the track.¬† There’s nothing newsworthy here until we see one sentence on a LEAF prototype equipped with 48-kWh battery pack.

“In the EV category, the Nissan LEAFs and a Mercedes A-Class E-Cell have been fighting for outright honours. Although two of the team’s three LEAFs are essentially standard, a third was introduced as a mobile test lab, running in the series’ EV prototype category. For the final race, its battery pack was doubled in size to take battery performance to 48kWh and allowing it to perform on more equal terms with the 36kWh Mercedes.”

One Of These LEAFs Are NOT Like The Others

One Of These LEAFs Are NOT Like The Others

Mercedes won in regularity discipline, but having a 48-kWh LEAF prototype may indicate that Nissan is thinking of increasing energy and range of future LEAF versions.

48 kWh is more than we’d expect to see in a production version, but this testing at least shows us that Nissan has thoughts of more capacity on its mind.

We do wish that Nissan provided an image of where all this extra capacity fits in the LEAF, but sadly Nissan did not.

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65 responses to "Nissan Tests Longer Range, 48-kWh LEAF at ECOseries"

  1. Eric Loveday says:

    Yes…a 48 kWh LEAF would be da bomb. The competition would disappear. Wait, there wouldn’t be any competition.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Give me a 48kWh slightly larger car. Maybe Altima size for a bit more interior room. Sure, the Leaf is aerodynamic and all that – but as EVs get more popular, people will care less about aero and more about utility.

      1. George B says:

        I think the (postponed) Infinity LE could fit the bill here.

  2. GeorgeS says:

    How did they fit that big a battery in there?

    1. Anderlan says:

      I know right? A doubling in capacity would necessitate a design overhaul. Even if the pack only increased in volume by 50%, it seems like the cabin space is already fully spoken for. I hope they take better advantage of space in the future–Tesla shows a good example not only with the flat pack, but very tight controller/inverter/motor/gearbox module all on the rear axle. But, just loading a LEAF up with the cells and hooking them up and modding the software is a good first baby step!

    2. gigglehertz says:

      They are working on new battery chemistry formulas that increase energy density rather than throwing in more battery cells. I’d like to see some pictures of the prototype Leaf’s interior to verify whether any interior space was lost to a larger pack or not.

    3. The extra battery pack capacity likely was place in rear seat area as the rear seats and other unnecessary equipment was removed to reduce weight. The choice to double from 24 to 48 kWh (2x in parallel) is the simplest solution as this allows keeping same battery voltage for drive train. (ie: No modes to inverter, charger, etc. to run at different voltage) 36 kWh could be another capacity that would keep same pack voltage, but would require changes at battery module level.

      Note: Omited from this post was reference to race team being composed of after hours Nissian employes “who are all taking part in the series in their spare time”, not work directly related to a Nissan research project. http://electriccarsreport.com/2013/10/nissan-pioneers-zero-emission-motorsport-leaf-takes-race-tracks/

      With the race being one-hour duration, the LEAFs 24 kWh pack likely was speed limited to ensure the driver could finish a race. Instead of adding 5-6 kWh of reserve capacity; doubling is capacity was a much quicker, less complex solution to wire in.

  3. David Murray says:

    This would be awesome if the battery fit in the same space as the original. But I have a sneaking suspicion they probably crammed some extra batteries in the passenger and/or cargo areas.

    But this does bring up a good point about something. When the first generation EV and PHEV cars were being developed they had to build mules out of other cars in order to test certain components. Now they can use existing EVs to test out new battery designs and you have a clear comparison with how that battery performs in that vehicle compared to the same vehicle that is tried and true with the previous battery.

  4. David Murray says:

    On a second note… If Nissan were able to offer 48Kwh that would give a real-world range of 150 miles and would guarantee you at least 100 miles or more for highway travel. If the car were to cost the same amount, that would essentially be the death knell for the gasoline engine.

    1. Geo says:

      The Rav4 EV can already do that sort of range.

      1. David Murray says:

        yeah, but not at the price of a Leaf.

        1. George B says:

          The price is very comparable when you factor in all the discounts and subsidies Toyota is offering to help move the RAV4 EV. Assuming an industry average of 500 $/kWh, a 48 kWh pack would cost at least $20,000. I think Nissan and other automakers will have to work on both energy density and cost. Tesla is apparently a bit ahead, thanks to their decision to use a standard 18650 cell format and cut deals with established battery makers.

          1. Bill D says:

            The discounts that Toyota has offered on the RAV4 EV are great for the few buyers who get them, but they are loosing money on each car.

      2. Brian says:

        The Rav4 EV is not available in most places. You have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get it out of CA, and once you do, it’s unserviceable.

        In other words, for most customers, it doesn’t exist as an option.

        1. Ocean Railroader says:

          I’m starting to think the builders of the Nissan Leaf might be serous about taking on the EV market and on the gas cars in general in that this is the ground breaking idea I have been waiting for the idea of a affordable 150 mile Ev.

          1. KenZ says:

            Sure, but don’t forget that doubling the battery capacity does not necessarily double the range because of the extra weight you’re carrying around. If we said you get 75 miles (for argument’s sake) out of the standard Leaf, I’d wager you’ll get more like 130-135 miles out of a doubled pack. Granted, that’s a guess…. I’m sure there’s a kWh/lb-carried rule of thumb out there, so all you have to do is a simple calc to figure out what the true shortfall will be.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              This is a tricky one.

              I’m sure there would be some penalty on the weight, but personally I don’t think it would be greater than the reduction of the percentage of the depth of discharge that is inaccessible (to preserve battery life) that you would likely see on the larger application.

              You might see it on a subsequent addition of another 24 kWh, ie) from 48 to 72 kWh. Its possible that one might get more out mileage of the second 24 kWh of capacity than the first.

              …whatever the answer, i’ts an interesting think/discussion point anyway to widdle away the time while we wait for a longer range/inexpensive EV

            2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

              Depends on driving pattern. Weight isn’t a big factor for efficiency on a steady, flat, highway..

        2. Bill Howland says:

          Actually Brian, I used to think the same thing that Rav4EV wasn’t available in NY State. But that’s simply not true.

          Besides my Roadster, one of the most popular EV’s at the Penfield (Rochester) PlugInAmerica gathering this year was the guy whose NY State license plate read “RAV4EV”.

          It only cost him $1000 to get it here. He figures his out of pocket expense for the vehicle will be around $32,000, since Toyota lowered the price by $10,000 in California. Servicing surprisingly is the SAME as California – he just brings it to the local Toyota Dealer.

          He just called a California Dealership, and paid for the thing over the phone. The Rochester Toyota dealership’s service people are very interested in the vehicle and will seemingly give the car even better service than can be had in California.

          (Also, he won’t have the trouble of the connector melting at the standard 40 ampere charge rate, at least not for the moment. He’s using a cheapie ClipperCreek 20 amp thingy so it takes a while to charge the huge battery, but at least nothing will melt).

          1. Brian says:

            Interesting story, Bill. I think that guy was either persistent, lucky, or both to get the Rav4 to NYS.

            I was basing my statement off of two people in Central NY. One purchased the car, shipped it across the country, and ended up paying almost twice what it costs in CA (he wasn’t given the $10,000 California-Only cash), only to discover that he cannot service it locally. The Toyota dealers here outright refused. The other individual started down the same path, and decided to get a Leaf since he too could not find a dealer to service the car.

            But speaking in a more general sense, the car is still out of reach for most US customers. I’m glad some people have found a way to get one, but most people just won’t go to those lengths for a car. They’ll just buy a Leaf. Or a gas Rav4.

            1. George B says:

              It’s unfortunate that Toyota would like to keep the RAV4 EV on a strict compliance car track, and is actively discouraging exports from California now.

            2. Richard C says:

              Brian, you are exactly right concerning the Toyota RavEV.

              I purchased a 2012 RavEV in January, and had it shipped north to Washington state. Before purchasing, I had spoken to Toyota USA about wanting the vehicle, but concerned about any limitations. They informed me I should do two things: Find a CA dealer willing to sell the RAVEV to an out of state buyer, and to find a local dealership in WA willing to service my EV. I found a willing seller in Carson, CA Toyota, and my local Toyota dealership assured me they would service my EVm and said they had 3 techs trained for it. I got that assurance in writing.

              Fast forward 6 months, and my local dealership reneged on their promise – telling me they would do any non-EV service for my Rav, but anything EV-related would require me shipping my vehicle back to California. !!!!!

              Completely soured my family on Toyota. Sold the Rav and my wife and I purchased twin Ford C-Max Energi’s. Very happy with the Energi … driving almost 100% electric. I’ve driven 1,300 miles so far, and my dealer-filled tank is still pegged at full. Lifetime MPG is listed at the display maximum of 999.9. Gotta love it!

          2. Dan says:

            I assume you are talking about Mike. Both Brian and I know him, as he is a ChargeNY member, so we are familiar with his experience.

            The thing is, Toyota is telling out-of-state dealers NOT to service the vehicles, as Toyota won’t pay for any warranty work, or provide tech support.

            Toyota also got rid of the big incentives for out-of-state buyers, so it really is a lost cause now.

            I’m in Central NY, and tried very hard to get one of these vehicles in my garage.

    2. Ocean Railroader says:

      What is funny I went to a public meeting about them wanting to put in the county’s largest gas station at 18 to 32 gas pumps and I was lathing at this idea in that 40 people talked about how they didn’t want it and the builder of the gas station was also there talking about how the market can support 10 gas stations with in two miles of one another. But what is funny is this 48killwatt Leaf with a 150 to 140 range would be the thing that kills the gas car and not to mention the 10 to 20 gas stations with in like a mile of one another.

      If I found out they had a 48 kilowatt Leaf with a 150 mile range I would run down to the dealership the next day and say where do I sign.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        If a Tesla Model S can go 300 miles with an 85 kwh battery, shouldn’t a 96 kwh leaf do more than 300 miles? So why should a 48 kwh Leaf only go 150?

        1. Brian says:

          I’ll bite. The 24kWh Leaf is EPA-rated for 75 miles. I’m pretty sure he just doubled 75 to get 150.

          The 85kWh Tesla is rated at 265 miles. That’s 3.1 miles/kWh.
          The 24kWh Leaf is rated at 75 miles. That’s 3.1 miles/kWh.

          1. Ocean Railroader says:

            Even if the Leaf gets to a 150 miles it could be a real challenge for the Tesla III Generation if it was to hold on to it’s price point in that it would be at least $8000 cheaper then the Tesla. Also at 150 miles I would be able to carry out some good sized road trips without any worries. I would also be able to drive it around the rural areas of my home without having to worry about running out of juice. Also at a 150 miles range a lot of people who I know drive 50 and 60 miles one away to work could possibly get one to meet their demands.

            I think anywhere from a 130 to 150 miles range would be the most realistic. I hope Nissan works as fast as possible in that this could crush the Prius and several other cars.

    3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      If they boost(ed) the voltage as well so you could get more speed, I’d be more interested..

    4. Ernie says:

      Uh huh. Just like if Honda were to offer a Civic with the kind of after-market upgrades that enthusiasts build in at the same price point, they would conquer the automotive world.

      But there’s a *reason* that they already don’t. There’s no way in hell that they can pack an extra $40K of performance upgrades into a $19K car.

      Battery prices might be coming down, but they’re not coming down *that* fast.

      1. KenZ says:

        …and adjustments and upgrades to the suspension, possibly the frame, etc etc.

  5. Tom says:

    Until I had some VERY concrete evidence that temperature degradation was truly no longer an issue, I’d not pay any more… “Fool me once… ™”

    1. evnow says:

      That’s why you lease.

      1. scottf200 says:

        And continually have a car payment. What a dreadful retirement plan and thing to teach your kids.

        1. evnow says:

          You make payments anyway – upfront or later. Car is a depreciating asset – it is just a question of how you want to pay for it.

          Besides, we are talking about an industry in transition here. Not a mature industry where buying and holding (for over a decade) is the norm.

        2. Thor says:

          Continually have a Car payment of $200 on a car that saves me $225 on Gas and is always under warranty? Yes, it is a great retirement plan. In fact, I don’t mind a small car payment, what I like NOT having is a House Payment.

        3. Vin says:

          I’ll take the small $300 lease payment + sales tax, thank you. It’s cheaper in the long run than tying up tens of thousands of dollars and paying sales tax on the full amount up-front on a rapidly depreciating asset.

          1. Aaron says:

            It is cheaper to buy for the LONG run. However, in the long run, battery technology will leave you behind and your battery will not have the same capacity when it was new.

            Until EV technology stabilizes (2020? 2030?), you’re much better off leasing.

    2. Michael says:

      I don’t have any temperature degradation with my Leaf in Minneapolis :)

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        I always thought that a EV would have to be kept in a Garage.

      2. scottf200 says:

        There are some products and android software on mynissanleaf forum so you can actually find out. As the saying goes tho: ignorance is bliss .

        1. Brian says:

          According to one of those apps, I have about 10-11% degradation with my Leaf in Syracuse. But I highly doubt much (if any) is due to temperature (our average temp is 46F).

          1. George B says:

            Syracuse should have an aging profile similar to Seattle, and your LEAF will likely follow the pattern owners have observed there. Depending on the mileage, storage conditions and usage, the car could hold up well. Higher mileage vehicles in Seattle seem to lose the first bar after 2 1/2 or 3 years.

            http://www.mynissanleaf.com/wiki/index.php?title=Battery_Capacity_Loss

            1. Brian says:

              According to the LeafSpy app, my battery is degrading significantly faster than that model predicts. I seem to be more in line with Texas than Seattle.

              1. John Hollenberg says:

                Battery Aging Model has now been calibrated using Ah readings of capacity from about 20 Leafs. I haven’t updated the Wiki page with the new (lower) figures yet. See near the end of this thread to download the latest version of the spreadsheet (0.99):

                http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=14275&start=180

                1. John Hollenberg says:

                  The Wiki page has been updated with the new (lower) figures. It does a pretty good job of predicting up to about 2.75 years. Of course, we will have to wait for the future to see if the model pans out over the next couple of years.

  6. Sam says:

    Nissan can do it but would be expensive. I’m willing to pay more for more range but others may expect something for nothing.
    Would really like to see where they put the battery. The battery is very heavy, 800lbs for the 24kwh battery. Hard to throw in that much additional weight without it affecting handling and efficiency.
    There’s room in the back under the car. Folks have installed a spare tire there. Or they could cram it in the trunk or center spine like the volt. Wonder about temperature handling.

    Good to see that Nissan is thinking about higher capacity at some level.

  7. DanCar says:

    But me in the category of willing to pay more for more batteries and more range. I dislike efficiency arguments. I don’t care that the car may weigh 1000 more pounds.

    1. Ernie says:

      There’s a funny thing about factories.

      See, if you can only sell 50 of something, you don’t need a factory to build it, you just need strategically located shops. And it’s going to be bloody expensive.

      Stop demanding mass-production prices on specialty items. Not. Going. To. Happen.

  8. Spec9 says:

    Put it up for sale, Nissan! Yes, it will cost more but some people will want it.

  9. Bill Howland says:

    I really don’t understand all the added weight. My 53 kwh battery in the Roadster weighs less than 1000 pounds, and that’s heavily steel encased and water cooled to boot. I’d think Nissan could make a 96 kwh battery for well under 1500 pounds if they set their mind to it. But the thing needs to have an optional heat sink and fan for Tucson customers.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      That’s pretty bang one.

      Considering you are not adding a lot of ‘extra systems’ weight, you would be looking at adding about 375lbs of raw cells for the extra 24 kWh using today’s tech. Next gen AESC/Nissan (if plans/research models haven’t changed) would be around 225lbs per 24kWh (raw).

      1. Eric Loveday says:

        Says the man who knows way too much about AESC, poundage per kWh and Nissan.

        Wouldn’t you rather be watching this 19-minute McLaren P1 video: http://insideevs.com/video-the-making-of-top-gears-mclaren-p1-review-19-minutes/

      2. evnow says:

        That is interesting info Jay. That is 40% reduction in weight or 67% increase in density.

    2. Spec9 says:

      Tesla does use higher energy density batteries than other automakers. But that only explains part of the issue.

  10. Francis L says:

    I hope that in a near future, customers will be able to choose a leaf with a battery of 24, 48 or 64 kwh (like what Tesla does already). Like for the memory in the iPods, there is all sort of customers that don’t have the same needs. I personally would buy the biggest version because 80% of my trip are at least 200 km (120 miles).

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      What is interesting is that Tesla had a 40 Kwh pack that they where going to produce to make the car cheaper but the demand was so high for the 60 and 85 packs that they dropped the 40kwh pack do to less then 5% of their customers buying it. The 24 kilowatt pack would most likely go away in that no one would really want it when they can get a 48 kilowatt pack with a 150 miles of range.

      1. Francis L says:

        You’re right. Maybe Tesla decide to do this because they make more money on the 85 and 60 kWh versions. With enough buyers to sell out all their production only with those two models, they decide to stop the less profitable 40 kwh.

        But I alway see a market for 24 kWh cars. It can fill the needs of those who need a cheap second car for every day use. Or people that just never use their car to go out of town.

        Of course, as it will become cheaper with times, more and more people might just get version with more range “in case of”. But I’m pretty sure that there always be people asking for low range cars.

  11. Lad says:

    The Leaf and Tesla batteries are of different chemistries and as many know, different configurations. The Leaf battery weights about 600 lbs at 24 kws and the Tesla is about 1200 lbs at 65 kws. That’s about 18.5 lbs/kw for the Tesla and about 25 lbs/kw for the Nissan.

    Seems to me that if you doubled the Leaf battery to 48 kws, using the current battery design, 1200 lbs would be an awful penalty to pay.

  12. MDEV says:

    The fact is that we are reaching to the point where automakers start to sweat. I am for all EVs, I love Tesla but I love competition more. Tesla GIII has to be really a good product.

  13. Ernie says:

    There’s one thing that I like about this story.

    It means that Nissan/NISMO has given up on the single-minded effort to create zero-emissions competition cars with the exact same powertrain that the production Leaf has. It’s nice to see that they’re willing to make a few modifications to boost performance, instead of that awful NISMO Leaf RC, which has the same top speed as a showroom Leaf.

  14. scott moore says:

    So, according to Wakypedia, which could be wrong/old/completely made up:

    The battery in a current Leaf is 24kwh, weighs 600lbs, and costs $18,000. Its interesting that the above proto car exactly doubles the battery capacity, its not an arbitrary figure.

    Current Leaf New Leaf (heh)
    ============================
    $30-35k $48-$53k
    3,354lbs 4,014lbs

    I’m guessing that most here would appreciate improvement in price on that more than weight.

    1. Spec9 says:

      That $18K figure is obviously WAY WRONG. Even at $400K/KWH, it would cost less than $10K. They should have the cost down in the $300/KWH range these days.

      1. scott moore says:

        Perhaps asynchronous, but I noticed the dealer who sold me my leaf lease is offering terrible terms compared to what I got now. I wonder if they are in short supply…

  15. Dave K. says:

    I expect the Leaf to get a bigger battery in a couple of years, maybe 30-36kwhr, but 48 is really unnecessary, too expensive, too heavy, too large. It will fit in the current battery box and probably be retrofitable to older cars, this will give Nissan some service income that they will otherwise lose out on, If they don’t do it someone else will. The current battery is OK for most people 99% of the time and once you hit 125-150mi range that works for almost everyone, maybe a couple of quick charges and 3-400 mile trips become reasonable. if you need to go further rent or fly. At that point ICE becomes a niche product.

  16. EV says:

    they need to change that ugly exterior before changing the battery