Does the company really want current EV owners to just throw them away?
When customers complained about the prices for Nissan LEAF battery pack replacements, that was something natural. After all, no one buys a car and throws it in the garbage bin if anything fails. Adrien E. Austin is a different case. He is the Nissan EV dealer at the US Virgin Islands and is concerned about his customers. If they need a battery pack replacement, Nissan will charge them $35,636.36 for a new one.
Gallery: Check How Much Nissan Is Charging For Battery Replacements In Portugal And Australia
This is probably a world record. The €30,000 would be equivalent to $32,616 at the current exchange rate, much less than Austin will have to charge any of his clients in need of a new battery pack.
Let him introduce himself to you.
“I’m a local business owner in the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas. Born and raised here. I’m an entrepreneur, local economist, and community leader. I’ve begun and born the burden of education here in the VI regarding EVs. I started the only EV dealership so as to provide the support my community members need to try to invest in new technology.
We’ve been hit by the strongest storms – Irma and Maria – in recorded history in 2017 and are still recovering. We were out of power for months. Transporting energy to areas in need with EVs was a very clever solution for me and my staff using inverters of the 12V system to keep food cold and provide supplies for children and those in need. We are 1/3 in poverty so the struggle is very real after a natural disaster.”
Austin thinks the Virgin Islands are the perfect place for EVs.
“In a 13-mile island, there is zero range anxiety. EVs provide savings, safety, and longevity. We have a new governor, one talking about EVs for all government officials. The cost to operate ICE vehicles here is higher than anywhere in the world due to shipping and wear and tear. Therefore EVs offer the highest savings per miles saved! Especially with solar power!”
Nissan was not necessarily the first option, but it was one that seemed to fit quite well.
“I’ve tried to talk to Tesla but their hair is on fire and they never respond… They will never set up an outpost here. We are too small and they don’t believe in local partners. I’m in talks with Rivian to hope they see the big picture about investing in developing, showcases markets rebuilding from the perils of global warming – but they are also very busy.”
That was how Austin got to Nissan – and to a bizarre situation of being a dealer that does not sell new cars.
“Yes, I am a Nissan dealer and they were quick to take my money for specialty tools so I could be a ‘Leaf dealer.’ However, they never once made a Leaf available to me. Our parent supplier is in Puerto Rico – Motoramber – and they are a subsidiary of Nissan Mexico.
When the Nissan Leaf is made in Smyrna, Tennessee, they give no allocation for non-US and non-Europe markets. Therefore, my parent supplier gets no allocation and has provided me with no Leafs as I requested in the last five years.”
Austin and his company, DriveGreenVi, had to make do with independently importing the cars.
“All of the around 300 Leafs in the USVI were brought in second hand, largely by me or private citizens to move the needle with no help from the EV manufacturers. I even reached out to Nissan USA for their off-lease direct funnel and they laughed at me because I didn’t want them ‘all.’"
We wonder how many LEAF units Nissan would miss if it sold some of them in the US Virgin Islands, which now have around 107,000 inhabitants. Anyway, Nissan's goal seems to be not to have EVs there at all, despite the smart grid advantages it offers. It is just a matter of checking the price for a battery pack replacement there. Austin is still shocked by that.
“I’ve attached my pack quote as the local Nissan dealer for my customers: $35k! That’s more than a new Leaf. And this is for a Gen 2 pack replacement! I could put 3 Viper engines in a leaf for less than that!
I’m tired of not doing anything about it. Now, as the packs die in the USVI from the Gen 1 and Gen 2 models, we are unable to help our clients who so boldly and wisely forged the way and demonstrated the ‘proof of concept’ which is EVs in the Caribbean.”
The Virgin Islander entrepreneur has some theories about the reasons for Nissan not to sell the LEAF there and to have such a high price for battery pack replacements.
“I believe their pricing is regional mistrust. They probably believe a false economy will emerge if Nissan subsidized pack replacements are made available in developing markets. They must think they will be picked apart for homes or jumpstart a market reincarnation of old Leaf models that will curb new vehicle sales.”
If only there were any, right? Austin would like to sell them, but he can't. He got in touch precisely due to our article about the prices for LEAF replacement packs in Portugal and Australia.
“I enjoyed your article from October 2019. Let’s recap: a poor, small, forgotten, largely black American territory is the most prime place for EVs in the world. It is rebuilding from the largest non-fire related, climate-change-related disasters in recent history. Federal funds are on the way. Infrastructure is finally coming into the 21st century with the optimal time to close the technological gap from the mainland. It is a showcase market for tourists through automotive rentals seeking to see the island beauty. We have willing community leaders, local government, and entrepreneurs funding change and educating the public. However, Nissan doesn’t even have enough interest to provide reasonable pricing to its existing customers? I need your help holding them accountable for this nonsense.”
When we wrote that article, we asked Nissan the reasons for that pricing and if it was a global policy, considering Australia also had a case. We never heard back from the company. It has apparently lowered the battery pack prices in Portugal, but it never officially informed us about that.
With Austin's message, we see that these prices are not exclusive to Europe or Australia. If you own a LEAF anywhere else in the world, please ask for the pack prices and send us the budgets. As you know, we want to discuss as much as possible not only the sale of new EVs but also how people will keep them running when they age.
We would love to write about what Nissan is doing in other places, and we believe the best source for that to be our readers – especially because the company seems to be trying to reproduce the worst aspects of Tesla regarding press relations. Virgin Islanders would probably love to buy a brand-new LEAF, but they also want to keep their used ones away from the junkyard.