A New Battery Pack For The Nissan Leaf
New generation of cars usually announce something new and ideally something better. While in the world of internal combustion engines, ICE, the trend has been more facelifts than substantial improvements, things are very different in the world of electric vehicles, EV.
New EV Generations. If the gasoline car world has bored you these last two decades, the world of electric cars should cure the somnolence. Indeed, electric cars have everything to prove, all to lose. If the current generations of electric cars have around 70 to 80 miles of range, the newer ones are pushing north of 100. If today’s EV have quaint 3.3 kWh on-board chargers, the newer ones promise 6.6, slashing in half their Level 2 charge time.
Nissan Leaf Gets A New Pack. After the initial excitement, the Nissan Leaf sales dropped, understandingly so. According to Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn, this new pack should lower the purchase price and boost the Leaf sales figures. Ghosn reported on the not-so-EV-friendly Wall Street Journal: “There is a second generation of battery coming (online) now…which is less costly than the previous one. We are in a race in which you reduce the costs and adapt the price.”
China-Japan Strain. Unfortunately, the tense diplomatic current situation between China and Japan could be affecting Chinese demand for Japanese-brand vehicles, especially battery operated ones. To this, Ghosn plays down the importance to this point although he did warn that if the situation degrades, it could negatively affect Nissan’s single largest-volume market sales.
The Numbers. The Japanese carmaker sold more than 35,000 Leaf since it started offering it back in 2010. After the initial euphoria, the August sales numbers this year showed a clear slowdown to 50% less than a year earlier. Only 685 vehicles were sold in that period and 9,674 Leafs were sold in the U.S. in 2011. To be fair August has never been a traditionally strong month for car sales and cannot accurately reflect the current reality.
Unfortunately very little is known about the new battery pack Nissan is planning on using in its new Leaf. It is important to remember that Nissan makes its own battery packs, compared to Ford, GM and many others who either buy the cells directly from South Korean LG Chem, or have the company manufacture the battery pack entirely. With the loan Nissan received to build the Nissan Leaf in Tennessee, at its Smyrna plant, Nissan can’t afford to drop the plant and buy its pack elsewhere.
Nonetheless, this is good news for the second wave of potential electric drivers. Since the early adoption wave shows signs of slowing down, the early majority adopters might be ripe for an updated Nissan Leaf with a better battery pack.