Sunday, June 29, 2014
For Sale; 24 Kwh Battery Packs!!
On Friday, June 27th, 2014, Nissan announced that replacement battery packs for the Nissan LEAF will be available for sale at $5499. There are no required degradation levels for replacement of the battery pack and this is "exchange" price ONLY. IOW, you must return your existing pack. The start of this program has yet to be announced but suspect it won't be a long wait. A month or two is my guess.
There are other conditions including
* The replacement will be done at a Nissan dealership. Although not specifically stated, I fully expect the fine print to state that 3rd party installation will not be available.
* The $5499 price will provide you a 2015 model battery replacement pack with greater heat tolerance or the long awaited "Lizard" battery.
* Cost of installation is not included and will be set locally by the dealer doing the work. It is expected to take 3 hours and typical shop costs run $110 hour. (local shop rates referenced by Lakewood Ford) so with tax, total out of pocket is probably around $6,000.
* Due to the configuration differences for 2013+ MY's a bracket kit for about $225 will be required for 2011/2012's (remember some components was moved from the pack to under the hood in 2013, thus removal of the "hump" in the rear hatch storage area.)
A few people might not be happy that an outright purchase is not an option but I personally feel that Nissan is providing this as a thank you to existing LEAF owners who have chosen to support Nissan and their EV program. The start was rocky to say the least. Range was less than most expected and degradation was much more than people had imagined. The purchase price was high, lease terms were extreme so there had to be a LOT of math, rationalizations, and compromises for early adopters to make that "LEAP to LEAF."
But degradation happened. Some were stuck with cars that would no longer make their intended commutes and the public charging promises were under delivered or failed to materialize at all. We then went to Nissan to ask for a battery pack cost. We got no response. Then they proposed a battery lease program but there were degradation requirements that were simply too much for people who had the longer commutes. But the lease proposal left a lot of questions unanswered and many current LEAFers were affluent enough that leasing was a much less desirable option that outright ownership. They added a battery degradation warranty that did help a large percentage of the affected LEAFers who mostly lived in the Southwest but again the degradation requirements were too steep for some and there were others that simply out drove the warranty limits, in some cases by a LOT.
But finally, Nissan has the right solution. The price alone makes a huge statement. It is rewarding current owners by requiring the exchange of the existing LEAF pack and charging a price for the pack that is well below market costs. It is really pathetic that after 3½ years, we can only look at one other example of what a part from a manufacturer might cost and keep in mind, the Ford Focus battery pack has a bit more complication with its associated heating and cooling system interfaces and what not and there is no mention of an exchange price so even if we used a value of $3,000 is it still nearly three times higher than Nissan's price. I would mention how much the Ford Focus EV pack costs here but the price is obscene in every sense of the word and this is a family blog. ;) If you must know, click on the link. Ford does allow you to buy only half the pack but both of those options are nearly double the the Nissan price, so not much comfort there either. Many panned Nissan for not providing a price but after seeing Ford's price, I applaud Nissan for not providing a price before it was ready. Ford gets NOTHING from me...
The other reason I think is simply business need. Unlike Tesla (ya, they did not do everything right) Nissan knew that a battery supply was crucial and they built their own factory but it still has limitations so providing only exchanges to LEAF customers will prevent (to a certain degree) non LEAFers from using the packs for home solar, etc. Now, as we all know, someone will figure out a way to do it but at least it won't be easy. This now gives Nissan exclusivity in the market. Tesla has it with their Supercharger Network. Now, Nissan will have it with a battery replacement program that has no peers. (Yes, I am aware of the Tesla program but as mentioned before, I look at Tesla as a luxury car first, EV 2nd... a DISTANT 2nd. As their portfolio expands, I will re-evaluate) And it will maintain a supply to new LEAFs.
My 2011 LEAF went 44,598 miles before being exchanged for my current 2013. If I was to have kept the 2011 and done the battery exchange, I likely would have done it before 45,000 due to my driving need (which is quite a bit higher than normal) along with the lack of public charging (which is actually one of the best in the country, sad as that is to say) where I need it to be but even if replaced at 40,000 miles for work purposes and a total OTD cost of $6,000 (there is NO SALES TAX for "new" EV parts currently) that is still 15 cents per mile. add say 3 cents a mile for "fuel" and we have 18 cents per mile. My 40 mpg Corolla cost me nearly that much in fuel/maintenance and the LEAF has no maintenance to speak of and I do not expect to see any additional requirements in the fine print for battery inspections and such for the purchase option so I would be losing a little money, maybe. Since I have a gasser I use occasionally for longer commutes, I could have continued with the 2011, using it only for the commutes that were within its diminishing range. That would still account for over 2/3rds of my needs.
Now, how much better the Lizard Battery is for cycling, remains to be seen but guessing there is probably a little improvement but this program really helps the people who fell into the cracks of the warranty program. Steve Marsh (see link above on 100,000 Mile LEAF) would have seen a cost of 6 cents per mile if he waited until 100,000 miles to replace his LEAF (he is approaching 120,000 miles now and is now a TWO LEAF owner but the new one is for the wife...)
Nissan made a small splash mostly in the EV community when they broke the 3,000 sales barrier in May, but Friday's announcement sets the groundwork for what I expect to be a wholesale shift in word of mouth advertising from current LEAF owners. It is another exciting footnote for EVs. This is starting to get fun again!
**Note** The picture has nothing to do with the blog...just bragging!
**edit** filled up the Corolla and despite getting over 38 mpg (A/C really took a hit!) I was over 11 cents per mile in fuel only.