Will the Nissan LEAF Be The World’s First Affordable 150-Mile EV?

MAR 24 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 71

“How much do you expect to pay (in dollars) for a public charging station that takes 29 minutes to gain 80% charge?”

Again, for this question, let’s assume the vehicle being charged for this question is a Nissan LEAF with an average range of 150 miles EPA.

Asked Nissan is a previous survey sent to LEAF owners.

Answers Include a Range From $0 to $50

Answers Include a Range From $0 to $50

In that same survey, Nissan posed a question regarding how much future 150-mile LEAF buyers would be willing to pay for the added range.

2013 Versus 2014 Comparo via FuelEconomy.gov

2013 Versus 2014 Comparo via FuelEconomy.gov

 “How much of a premium [over today’s 84-mile LEAF] would you pay for a 150-mile EPA-rated LEAF?”

The highest amount one could choose in that survey question was $5,000.

The all leads into our next question, this time posed by us:

Will the Nissan LEAF be the world’s first affordable 150-mile EV?”

If not the LEAF, then which vehicle will be first?  The Tesla Model E (Gen III)?  At a projected price of $40,000 (pre tax credit) sometime in the 2017-2018 timeframe, we’d argue this isn’t quite cheap enough to be considered affordable to the masses, especially since Nissan seems to be hinting at a price in the low to mid $30k (pre tax credit) region.

We’ve already seen Nissan testing a 48 kWh LEAF, but we suspect that was a one-off vehicle and that Nissan will not need all that capacity to get a LEAF to market with a 150-mile EPA rating (due to the efficiency upgrades of late)

Assuming Nissan wants the LEAF to become the world’s first affordable 150-mile EPA-rated EV, when does Nissan need to launch it by to assure it gets that distinction?

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71 Comments on "Will the Nissan LEAF Be The World’s First Affordable 150-Mile EV?"

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At 30 000$ US, I hope so!

$30k is nothing if you pay $150 a year for fuel.

No zeroes missing. That’s what it costs with offpeak energy prices.

you dont drive very much. I live in
WA where power is cheap and yes i drive more than most but my power bill is over $400 a year

I drive even less. I calculated my energy costs at $120, even at expensive Texas rates.

Isn’t 48 kWh the amount of energy the pack holds? So “chemistry changes” might make this amount easier to achieve, but it wouldn’t lower the amount of energy needed to propel the car. Only less drag, less weight etc. would do that.

Yes Dan, correct. That should read efficiency changes. Our mistake on that one. Fixed, thanks!

You beat me to this comment.
The only thing I would add is that there is one other change in battery chemistry which might reduce the nominal kwh needed, a wider SOC.
Lithium titanate batteries for instance can use down to around 5% of the battery capacity without cycle life suffering unduly, compared to around 20% for most batteries.

I doubt it though, the SOC will probably remain the same, so that the kwh of the pack has to rise more or less commensurately with the extra range needed.

All we can do is hope that Nissan has learned the sales potential of a longer range EV and is designing and planning its production at this moment. A Leaf Gen2 , sportier, 42kwh pack 135 to 150 mile EPA
2016 model year? If they dont extend the range and redesign the car to more appealing, they will see sales plateau in 2014.

Nissan has been hinting one double range Leafs due in 2015 for many years now:

http://gas2.org/2009/12/01/with-new-battery-nissan-plans-to-double-ev-range-by-2015/

$5K extra for a ~45KWh battery might be too much as it would bring the price very close to the upcoming Model E which is supposed to start at $35K (and not $40K as suggested this article BTW) and will have ~200 miles of range.

Chris, I don’t think the Model E will start at $35k in the USA, unless you include tax credits.

It’s what you think vs what Tesla says. For now I’ll go with Tesla’s version since they are the one’s who will actually be building the car and investing billions in a Giga battery factory designed to turn out hundreds of thousands of packs a year which is not going to happen if the mass market Model Tesla has in mind isn’t at least somewhat affordable.

Tesla has never delivered on its promised price. The Model S is a perfect example of that. Though Tesla may be saying $35,000, the consensus almost across the board is $40,000-plus.

As for range of the Model E, the latest is not 200 miles, but rather a practical range.

Our guess? Base Model E will come in EPA 185 miles or so with a $40,000 price.

The 200-plus mile Model E will be optional at maybe $50,000.

Eric: Opinions are just that. For range: Tesla never stated an EPA rated 200 miles so I do expect that number to end up below 200 miles considering the price target. Tesla mostly needs to deliver this time though, with Model E it’s going for broke. Gigafactory means giga-investment means giga-sales to make it all work economically. For those giga-sales Model E needs to be a pretty darn compelling deal, not much room to deviate from price and range targets.

Note that there is a difference between entry level prising and average sales price targets though. That last one is bound to be north of $40K.

Lightly treading into this conversation. The reason why pricing estimates are so ambiguious is that Musk has been consistent in saying that the initial estimate on the Bluestar was in ‘pricing of the day’ and not future tense… that you have to add inflation on.

Given a ten year window between the estimate and deliveries, it could pretty much be whatever. Is it core inflation which has been averaging around 2% since then? Or auto inflation which has been almost 3x of that?

I’m more flexible on the price, but not on the range. If it’s much less than 200 miles I’m out, and will stick with the range extender. I though Elon said it didn’t make sense to build an EV w/less than 200 miles of range?

And I tend to agree. All this talk of 150 miles and I believe 200 miles to be the bottom of the range that would signal to buyers an end to range anxiety.

Remember, it’s not the actual performance of a vehicle that sells it. Instead, it’s the perception of it’s limits ( or what it can possibly do ) that sells it. Look to AWD SUVs and trucks, or popular sports coupes for example. People buy them en-masse because they believe the limits 99% of it’s use can be stretched to do what they literally hardly ever if never do in real-life usage.

EV people tend to use figures based upon how they know people use cars – which is not how an auto buyer thinks. Studies by major automakers and consumer unions have shown that the worry of being stranded is a strong motive for not buying a pure electric car. So if they are to catch on, they have to exceed what John Q. Public believes is a limit they can live with.

There is a traditional split between engineers and marketing folks. Marketing folks know what it takes to sell a car. Engineers crunch numbers and oft build things in a tech vaccume. Engineers cannot forget how consumers think. This is why any company that will succeed in building an electric car has to have engineers that can sit down in the same room with salespeople and not have each believe the other is an idiot.

*think

Jay – can we have an edit function? Puleez?

Also, when I do drive more than my daily commute, most of my trips are about 70-90 miles one-way. So 160 miles round-trip with about a 20~40 mile buffer for cold weather/whatever. If the total range of the car is only 175 miles, I’m not going to be able to make any of these trips (without having to stop for a charge somewhere)

Makes our Volts look incredibly smart, doesn’t it?

Tesla may not have delivered on their price promise for their first two cars. However, they have over achieved/delivered on build and quality (all the awards) for their Model S. I wouldn’t bet against Elon Musk and Tesla. If he says $35k and 200 miles, I would go by their figures until something comes out from them stating otherwise.

Expecting a price tag of $40k is not betting against Elon Musk at all. It’s taking off the rose-colored glasses and reading between the lines (see my post below).

As for the 200 miles, he has said that it “wouldn’t be a Tesla” if it didn’t get 200+ miles EPA. The other thing to consider is that the superchargers are spaced assuming the cars have 200 miles of range. I would say that one’s in the bag.

Yep…I agree. Just stating the facts from the horses mouth. 🙂 Here is a recent video where Elon Mush states “around $35k and 200 mile usable” range.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5N9xIfTU5g

Tesla has so far produced two cars, both of which have arrived above their stated price target, so their track record isn’t so great. Plus, Elon never specifically said $35k. He left it vague so that people could imagine it costing $35k, but he is off the hook if it ends up costing >$40k. What’s more, he was talking in 2012 dollars. If we assume the historic average of about 3% inflation, after 5 years (2012-2017), $35k becomes $40.6k (35*1.03^5).

Well, Elon mentioned 48KWh for the model E and he also said that the battery needs to be another 1/3 cheap in order to make that happen.

$35K in 2012/2013 price can easily be $40K-$45K by the time 2017/2018 rolls around…

I agree that Elon has been vague at that he has under delivered on price/performance. I bet Nissan beats him to market with the 150 mile car

Chris, why do you have so much confidence in what Tesla says?

Remember, they said the Model S would be available for $50k, but only the base 40kWh/no Supercharger version came out starting at $57,500. However, they felt they met the goal, since it was $50k with after the tax rebate. Then, of course, the 40kWh model was withdrawn.

Like you, I would be absolutely thrilled to see a pre-incentive Model E for $35,000, but I don’t think it’s realistic. As Eric mentioned, Tesla’s statements imply inflation will jack up the price as well.

Elon said 200 min.

If the Nissan beats the model E to market by 2 years, does it matter if it’s close in price to a phantom car? Tesla has yet to show me that it can make an affordable car. Remember, the Model S was supposed to be half the price of the Roadster, but, in reality, it’s barely cheaper at all. Nissan hasn’t shown they can make a mega-range car, but they can make a car that people other than the super-rich can buy. I think their ahead of Tesla on this one.

Don’t underestimate Elon Musk. Many did and lost their shirt in the shorting game. I’m sure Nissan will keep an eye on the upcoming Model E when it decides about future Leaf pricing.

“Barely cheaper?” Roadster:from $110K; Model S from $63K.

Be realistic. No one wants a $63K Model S. With a few options, say Supercharging(necessity) and some leather seats or the tech package(kinda mandatory really.) Things can quickly move into the $75-80K price tier. And that’s before you get to the Porsche style options list… So while it is ~$20K cheaper, it’s not 5-series/A6/E-class money. Which is to say, nicely optioned around $55-65k.

I want a $63K Model S. I don’t give a (explanative deleted) about all the fancy stuff.

To answer the question: 2015 as a 2016 model

With millions of cars sold, that are not “affordable to the masses”, shouldn’t we focus instead on “millions”, first?

I’m not even 100% sure what you are suggesting. But to clarify my view on it. There are already plenty of electric options for those with cash.. The ELR, Tesla, BMW i3, etc. There are a few mid-range options like the Volt and the Ford Energi cars. We definitely need something in the realm of more mass market.

+1
We need a 30000 $ Camry size EV with 100 miles range and a Rex for further trips.
It should come with fast charge and be available with induction charge option.
Of course it should have five passengers seating and a full trunk.

I’d consider the $5,000 additional cost a modest price increase in consideration of the overall cost of the car. With 150 mile range(tantalizing but subject to interpretaton even at that range)the car could handle the harsher winter we experienced here(since the battery drain would be less of a problem) and the degradation down the line would be less of an issue. A 150 mile battery that becomes a 110 mile battery is still quite useful. That would then lead to the LEAF’s used car value not dropping so quickly. My Mitsubishi I-MiEV’s stated range is 62 miles. I get less than that in winter and (sometimes, considerably) more than that in summer. The car works for me with those numbers, but just barely. I can’t think of many scenarios where 150 miles is not enough.
Lou

There are more miles per battery cycle too, so that not only is the remaining range when it has dropped to ~80% still useful, but it takes longer to get down to it.

In addition many of the NMC chemistries which Nissan is as far as we know using have better cycle life than the present LMO to start with.

Its still not clear that all issues of greatly reduced cycle life in hot climates with the uncooled Leaf battery will be solved, but in more temperate climes the battery seems likely to give usable range for the life of the car, calender life issues permitting.

So my expectation would be that maybe a dodgy module or two might need replacing, but otherwise a 150 mile range Leaf would be on the same battery pack as it started with when it heads to the scrap yard.

I think it is fair to say the under 80 miles range EV segment is getting crowded with new and existing entries. Whoever doubles the range first with something near 150 miles will set themselves apart and be rewarded with big sales numbers.

Without a price drop, Kevin’s comment above seems right about the possibility of hitting a sales plateau in 2014.

Nissan’s best solution would be to introduce the longer range Leaf in the middle of the 2014 model year. They should also offer a higher range battery retrofit in existing Leafs. It would really support the price of a used Leaf if there was a range increase battery product.

Love the retrofit idea… think that would really help the perception of Nissan as serious player. Sooner the better for the pioneers.

LOVE MY LEAF! 7500 miles on… saving loads of money.

…while dreaming of more range apparently. Nissan really needs to move forward with that 150 miles Leaf for its battery gamble to pay off.

They need an affordable 2 door sport coupe to compliment the Leaf. Something along the lines of a 240sx/Sylvia type. Something sporty, without the $70k price tag. Put a 150mi range in it and I’ll take it!

Resurrecting the Pulsar name sounds like a good EV name to me.

How much $$$ for 150 mile Leaf?

Ask Tesla… that’s who I’ll be paying.

While they engineer a 150-mile range Leaf, that would be the time to upgrade the battery TMS.

I wonder if they should make different thermal systems for different areas. A Leaf sold in International Falls, Minnesota will have much different thermal issues from a Leaf sold in Scottsdale, Arizona. It is difficult and expensive to make a TMS that handles both situations well.

That would be funny if the Leaf had an option for an evaporative cooler. Connect the plug and add water.

Everyone needs to take a step back and ask one key question: What exactly is the base of comparison for that $5,000 delta we’re all fixated on? Is that $5,000 the increase over a current production Leaf for equivalent trim levels? Or is it the difference between a Leaf 2.0 with the current range vs. a Leaf 2.0 with a 150-mile range? My point is that I would expect a Leaf 2.0 with the current range to drop in price over the current offerings, simply because it would be based on lower battery prices. I’m not expecting or predicting a huge price drop, like $6,000, but more like $2,000, which is less than a change of $100/kWh for the current pack size. If the recent reports we’ve all seen about the major price drops in EV batteries are correct, that’s at all an outrageous expectation. We might well see a Leaf S 2.0 with a 150-mile range come in just a couple of thousand dollars over the price of a current leaf S, for example. Personally, I’d want to see them forget the 150-mile target and simply increase the pack size (at a lower $/kWh cost) until they reach the… Read more »

I would expect a base Leaf 2.0 to get 85 miles of range at $25,000 sticker. Beyond that, an SV for $3,000 more with the same range, with an extra $5,000 on top of that for the full 150 mile range. So you’re looking 33K for a 150 mile EV. That’s still a great deal though.

Upgrade the base Leaf S model to something like a 32 kWh battery, and then make a larger 48 kWh standard on the SV and SL trims – also be sure to make Chademo and 6.6 KW charging standard as the base, with an option of an upgraded 10 KW L2 charger available too. Going back to 8 to 10 hour full charge cycles on L2 will turn some people off, but at 10 KW 5-6 hours full charge cycle would be achievable, and sounds better to say it is capable of charging at a rate of around 30 MPH.

Whatever it is, whether a Leaf 2.0 or Tesla Model E, make sure it’s widely available before the end of my current Leaf’s lease in August 2016, as I will NOT return to driving an ICE and I want the additional range on my next EV.

Well, I hope someone else does it as well so we have a choice. But please build this Nissan, I know you can do it.

While 150-mi range may matter to some, Nissan is missing the bigger half of the range problem – and that is charging.

I have a Leaf that I can only use for local around town trips. I cannot use it anywhere else. Look at Plugshare – to get from Sacramento to San Jose, there’s plenty of Chademo DCFC. But there’s only 1 such public station and the rest are installed at Nissan dealerships, with only 1 spot, which may or may not work AND is only open during dealership hours. With a family in my car, I’m not going to chance that (i.e. risk getting stranded or long wait at dealership’s mercy).

The Tesla SuperCharger model is better – DCFC stations along the highway 24/7 with multiple bays. Why can’t Nissan do that?

Because SC for Nissan has to be closer and this will increase the number of stations by a factor of 3 in compare to Tesla. Also Leaf has way more cars on the route which means more bays per station. I don’t see a business model for Nissan here.

True, but on an earlier survey (not necessarily from Nissan I don’t think) I was asked if I would pay more up front if it meant getting “free” fast DC charging for life. I believe that was Nissan, because shortly after than Nissan invested some money in the Blink company and started making free charging for a year or 2 part a selling point in Texas, which I suspect could be a pilot program to test if the system could pay for itself through car sales in the long run.

If they substantially increase the range, then they need far fewer QC stations to make the first viable network.

The problem here is the bulk if not all of their QC stations are installed at their Nissan dealers and thus controlled by their dealers. They are only available during dealership hours and even then, they ***MAY** be available.

So since most local around-town trips are within range of the current Leaf, I see no point in paying more for a 150mi Leaf.

I will not drive my Leaf long distance even if QC’s were available. It’s ridiculous to stop and charge every 70 miles (i.e. drive 1hr, stop 30mins+). So yes, a 150mi range Leaf will be more enticing for road trips but like I said above, with dealers controlling QC’s, it’s less convenient/flexible.

Darn, I thought we were shooting for 200 miles for next gen BEV’s.

Because we’re not all wealthy enough to afford a Model S, and we would rather not drag around a gas range-extender that we don’t need. Plus, not everyone lives in CA, the home of the compliance EVs. So really this is our only option (unless you want to drive 200 miles to beg a Ford dealer to sell you a Focus EV).

@Model S: “hideous” is in the eye of the beholder. I find the Leaf strangely attractive, and mostly eye-catching, which is precisely what the first mass-market 5-continent BEV should be, and haters be damned 🙂

@Brian: FFE is inferior to leaf in cargo space and in not having quick-charge, both pretty nontrivial aspects. That’s besides being some ~$5k more expensive even now (right?). *And* people don’t even know you’re driving a BEV 😉

Yes, haters be damned. For that reason I hope they keep the appearance the same on the outside. I would not see it while I am driving, but the haters would and I could annoy them by simply driving it.

I’m not arguing with your assessment of the Focus. I’m just saying that if I actually wanted to buy one, I could. BUT I would have to drive about 200 miles for the privilege of talking to a dealer who would have to order the car for me anyway. It’s a huge hassle compared to buying a Leaf or a Model S. And if I want a BEV, those are my only three choices. (If I wanted to import something from CA, it would be far worse than trying to buy a Focus!).

Odds are “Model S” doesn’t have the money to buy a Model S. If the exterior appearance is the most important thing for him, odds are he is not old enough to drive either.

24kWh = 100 total EV miles(84 EPA)

48kWh = 200 total EV miles (168 EPA)

For an apples to apples comparison. Take the high volume Focus Titanium Hatch at $24k which has about the same features of the Focus Electric at $30k after current Cash Back offers.

Both have a drivetrain and engine/motor(onboard charger) that could balance the cost between the two.

This leave a $6k premium for the EV which could be assigned to the battery pack with thermal management system.

Which could mean a 46kWh battery pack could cost less than $6k les than the current pack. (Which is why the slightly larger MY2017 Focus may ride on a 4″ longer wheelbase shared with the Grand C-MAX.)

Putting a 200 mile (160 EPA) nicely loaded Focus Electric right back at $36k current MSRP for the 100 mile pack.

But without selling over 250k platforms/bodies of the Leaf in NA alone to bring pricing down(like the Focus), the Leaf will struggle to get close to $36k with a stripped S model at 200 miles max.

Nissan are pretty damn stupid if they don’t squeeze out a 100-200 mile car before Tesla does.

Then again, so is every other OEM. But Nissan is stupider because it would be easier for them because they have all the production in place.

I think Stupid is a bit harsh. Stupidity won’t be the reason if they are beaten to the punch, it will be a case of large slow moving company vs smaller nimble company. Larger companies are slower to innovate. Let’s give Nissan credit for being bold enough to produce a worldwide EV platform.

Tesla and Nissan are the only game in town for worldwide producers of BEV’s, the rest of the auto manufacturers (including GM) are satisfied with CARB compliance vehicles. (Mitsubishi have a worldwide BEV too, but the iMiev sales are insignificant enough to be irrelevant)

What I don’t understand is that the EV-1 back in the late 1990’s was rated at 70 to 80 miles with lead acid batteries and then they were talking about putting in nickle batteries to raise it up to a 140 miles range. And now it’s 2014 and the leaf is still at 80 miles using lithium. I really think this is the car makers holding back themselves vs cost of batteries.

As for Tesla I see it when I believe it with their model E or I’ll believe it when they when they start building the Giga factory till then Tesla could go belly up.

Yeah I’d be interested in the explanation to that. I’m sure there is one, and chances are someone around here has it..

If the Nissan marketing department keep giving us the koolaids that “there is a battery shortage” with the existing LEAF, then what makes you think that doubling the battery capacity would make that situation better?

Or was all that “shortage” talk just a lie to cover up the lower sales projection?

Either way, I would like a 200 miles LEAF. But with 48KWh, it won’t happen. More like a 160 miles LEAF especially at hwy speed.

Nobody wants to drive 200 miles at stop/go speed…

Alternatively, could it just be possible that the battery shortages are real, and in fact the reason that Nissan doesn’t yet have a 150 mile Leaf? Think about it this way – they already sell every Leaf they build. If they could put double the battery into a Leaf and increase the price by $5k, or just as easily sell a second Leaf for $30k, why would they do the former?

Range is subjective. What I’m looking for in LEAF 2.0 is a no loophole battery warranty that says Nissan thinks its chemistry will go the distance. Minimally, >80% capacity at 8 years/100k miles.

Agreed. A bigger problem than lack of range is the too rapid loss of capacity. I have lost about 18% of the original capacity in less than 3 years, living in a climate only slightly hotter than the reference Los Angeles Civic center. Nissan needs to either come out with their “hot” battery or put a TMS in the Leaf 2.0.