Nissan Leaf battery
Luke Ottaway's picture

Replacement battery cost bodes well for used LEAF market

A big unknown when it comes to resale value of electric vehicles is battery degradation and the cost of replacing the battery pack. Nissan has addressed this concern with aggressive pricing of Nissan LEAF replacement batteries.

Nissan has released encouraging news concerning replacement battery packs for the best-selling LEAF electric vehicle. Brian Brockman, a senior manager of corporate communications at Nissan, posted in the MyNissanLeaf forum detailing the newly unveiled battery replacement program based on a year of customer feedback.

The facts: reasonable cost, optional financing, new chemistry, but same capacity

The crucial piece of information: any Nissan LEAF owner may now purchase a brand new 24-kWh battery pack for a suggested retail price of just $5,499 plus installation fees and tax.

In addition the owner will be required to trade in the old battery, which Nissan is valuing at $1,000 but does not count toward the cost of the new battery. The replacement packs are now available for purchase at any certified Nissan dealer.

Owners of the 2011 and 2012 model year LEAF will also have to purchase a $225 kit that includes brackets and related hardware to install the new battery. Installation time is estimated to be three hours, although no projected installation cost was given.

Nissan also revised its heavily critiqued monthly payment plan for a new battery so that owners may finance the replacement for around $100 per month over five years if they so desire and would own the battery at the end of the finance terms. More details on the financing program will be made available as they are finalized.

The replacement batteries will be the same packs as those in the 2015 LEAF, which feature a modified cell chemistry for improved durability in hot climates. The new heat-tolerant chemistry should alleviate worries about excessive capacity loss such as that experienced by some owners in the southwest United States, but it does not improve range or charging characteristics over the previous version.

How much is Nissan subsidizing the cost?

Some quick math reveals that Nissan valuing the new 24-kWh packs at $6,500 ($5,500 plus $1,000 for the old pack) theoretically indicates a cost of around $270/kWh for the new battery. This suggests that the increase in volume production of large-format lithium ion cells has driven the cost down significantly, although Nissan is most likely going to lose money on the few replacement batteries sold for the first year or two as it lowers costs further.

A spent LEAF battery is worth more than $1,000 for applications like residential solar energy storage, but most of the old batteries initially will be recycled. Some will be reused as part of Nissan’s 4R Energy operation, though it will be interesting to see what Nissan ultimately does with used packs once they begin coming offline in droves.

Why it is so important

Batteries are without question the weak link of electric vehicles. They are the limiting variable in the longevity of the vehicle; though critical EV components like the drive motor and brakes will last far longer than their counterparts in gasoline vehicles, the battery pack limits the effective life of the car as the rest is useless without adequate battery life to power it.

Nissan knows this – they only warranty their battery packs against capacity loss for 5 years and 60,000 miles (8 years and 100,000 miles against defects), although they may adjust those numbers if the new heat-tolerant chemistry proves more successful. They also know that the used LEAF market will struggle without a competitive battery replacement program; nobody is going to pay very much for a vehicle that comes with a timer counting down to the end of its useful life.

With used conventional vehicles, there is at least the hope that nothing will break down if it is maintained well. If components break, they can often be repaired or replaced at relatively low cost.

With used electric vehicles, the battery will degrade to unusable capacity and there is virtually nothing that you can do about it, short of delaying the inevitable with careful charging and driving patterns. Thus the concern about replacement battery costs; overly expensive replacement batteries would greatly hurt the resale value of the vehicle.

The obvious flip side of this concern is that if the battery can be replaced at reasonable cost, an electric vehicle gets a new lease on life and a huge boost in resale value. That’s why the aggressive pricing set by Nissan is encouraging – considering that a brand new battery could legitimately double the life of a LEAF, $5,500 is a very fair price to pay.

Keep an eye on 2017

Though Nissan refused to offer any details on future higher-capacity battery packs, we are free to speculate. It is widely expected that the next-generation LEAF, likely to debut as a 2017 model year, will come with the option of a larger battery for more range. Specifically, current LEAF owners were asked in a detailed survey how much extra they would be willing to pay for 150 miles of range instead of 85.

The upgrade will be mostly from improved battery chemistry with greater energy density than the current generation. We could see a pack with capacity as large as 42 kWh, which would put the LEAF in the ballpark of 150 miles of range.

If the future larger battery packs are not the same in size and shape as the 2015 battery, owners wishing to upgrade their current LEAF to a 150-mile version will be disappointed. Nissan no doubt is aware of this, so we will see if their engineers can figure out how to package a significantly greater capacity in the same space even with a large energy density increase.

Utilizing more of the available capacity could be another route, or offering the option of an occasional maximum charge like the Mercedes Benz B-Class ED would be an easy way to “achieve” 150 miles of range.

Given Nissan’s recommended retail price of $270/kWh for the 2015 battery pack, this number suggests that increasing range from 85 miles to 150 miles would cost something like $5,000. We will see how close that value is to reality, but early indications are that a longer-range LEAF won’t break the bank.

Biggest takeaway

The most important thing to come out of Nissan’s replacement battery announcement is that LEAFs are no longer restricted to a mere 8 years on the road. Without noticeable aging in the drivetrain, a used LEAF upgraded with a new heat-tolerant battery will feel just like a brand-new car again. With no transmission, combustion engine, or exhaust system, electric vehicles can last far longer than conventional vehicles if the issue of battery life is eliminated.

Nissan has done its part to maximize the service life of its LEAF vehicles. The used market will flourish, and owners who really love their LEAF may now effectively double its useful life for just over $6,000 after taxes and installation fees. This will certainly change the way people think about leasing or financing the LEAF and does wonders for the confidence of existing and potential owners.

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"Richard" don't beat your self up too hard. A lot of us had little to research when the Leaf was first introduced. Press releases from Nissan and a few car magazine articles was about all we had to go on. Nissan provided little to no useful information about what was going to happen to the range on these cars and nothing was said about decreased charging rates in the cold when you plug into a DCFC. The recharge time of 80% in 30 minutes sound familiar. They forgot to tell you DCFC slows way down in the winter. Nissan had lied and concealed information about the batteries in their Leafs from day one. Will never buy another one and will never recommend one to anybody I like!!!! The 2016 Chevy VOLT can not get here fast enough!
Just a note on the Volt. At 55k miles the battery still performs like new. I get the same EV distance today that I got the day I purchased it.
Congrats on the great battery performance!!! I would expect that battery to still be at its normal level of performance well into 200,000 miles like other high mileage volt owners. I am wishing Nissan would have bought their batteries for their Leafs from the same people that GM got theirs from. I can't wit to get my 2016 Volt.
Let me share my story with all of you I bought a used nissan leaf at Wayzada nissan here in Minnesota and I'll regret it forever. On May 12, 2015 I went to Wayzada Nissan to purchase a Nissan Leaf which is an electric car. The car had 5245 miles. I talked with one of the sale person at the dealer and he takes me for a test drive. After driving the car it felt like a new car to me because it only has 5245 miles, but at the same time the car is 3 years old. My main concern was the battery life because it is an electric car so battery is everything unlike a normal car. So I asked my sale person about the battery and he told me that it’s good and also pointed out to me how to check if the battery is good or not. At the time the car was not fully charge and I trusted my sale person and Wayzada nissan dealer, but once I brought the car home I still never charge the battery full because Nissan reconment to only charge it up to 80% so I did that until May 26, 2015. I decided to charge it fully because I had to pick up my family in Hampton MN, which takes about 70 miles round trip. This is when I realize that the car is missing a battery bar which means the battery has lost 15% of its range. After I found this out I contacted my sale person right away and he told me that I can bring the car in for them to check it out. I also told him that he lied to me about the battery. His reply back was I though we looked at it together and the battery bar was all there, But I told him No you told me that all the battery bar was all there. On June 12, 2015 I brought the car back and spoke to the technician and I asked for a inspection report when they first bought the car and I now saw that there is a battery bar missing in the report that my sale person is trying to hide from me. One other strange thing at this dealer about electric car when I first walk in and look at all there car which is the same model same color same year, but one with higher milages cost a lot more then one with lower milages. I feel that they have been trying to hide this fact about the battery bar missing from the buyers, because that way they can sell more of those cars. They’re are the only dealer in MN that has the most Nissan leaf and because that now electric car are so new and not so many people understand about the missing battery bar. I feel that they’re taking advantage of people by hiding and providing misinforming information to buyers. Most of us would assume that low milages car is always better then high milages car, But I want people to know that battery is very important in this electric car. After doing some research I realize that the first bar that is missing mean you’re losing 15% of your range and the second bar and so on only mean you’re losing an extra 5% on top there’s total of 12 bars that indicate battery life of the car. Please help me with this situation so that other people wouldn't find themselves a situation like me. I believe that Wayzada Nissan and all other dealers who are selling electric car to clearly explain to their buyers about the battery bars so they're not stuck in a frustrating situation like I found myself.
I think Nissan's corporate culture is probably corrupt.
I have Nissan leaf 2012, it's always difficult to schedule maintenance based on limited resources at Nissan, They don't understand your concerns or battery loss. They advertised 100 miles range when I bough it which wasn't true. Mine has lost one bar so far. I won't buy any car from Nissan and won't recommend them. Recently, I got a letter form one of the Nissan used car dealership that they are willing to buy my 2012 leaf with much higher than market value. Not sure what the current value of the car is currently and why they want to buy my leaf. Any ideas?
If they buy your Leaf "above market" (and these cars have really depreciated) then they'll be less flexible on the new car price. Everything in life is a rouse.
Hi Semi T. If you would like to know what your car is worth you can got to Kelly Blue Book or the NADA guide. put in the info about your car and the zip code. These web sites will give you a range of values depending on if you are selling or trading in. We got a letter from our local Nissan Dealer like yours. The whole thing was a trick to get us to come so they sell us a new car. Buying another Nissan aint gonna happen!!! We have files complaints about battery capacity loss and "Grabbing Breaks" and the navigation system and got no where with them. Nissan does know what these issues are they just lie so they don't have to give you a new battery.
To estimate the value of your Leaf, go to Edmunds guide or the annual Consumer Reports. Be prepaired, nothing depreciates like a Nissan Leaf. No Nissan ever again.
I feel bad in the midst of all this good Nissan bashing but I bought by 2012 SL one year ago with 6000 miles for under $18K US. I bought it as a work car which is 25 miles round trip and find I use it a lot on the weekends (We have a second car). It now has over 12K miles on it. I have all the bars and my biggest complaint is how easy the paint is to scratch (I know, shut up you whiney.....) I keep it in a slightly heated garage during the winter. I honestly like the car a lot as it is very appropriate for what I need. It is not for everyone for sure. Oh, and yes Nissan is like every business to maximize profits. It will only do what it sees a financial advantage in doing. Every customer has a price, and their marketing executives know what this exact dollar amount is. That's business. Yeah, it sucks.
If your battery is old and planning to buy new batteries, than online and offline retailer paid your old battery cost according Ah capacity(much capacity higher value, low capacity lower value). For best price and genuine battery shop at and get higher cost of old battery.
Mayanktanwar---Thanks for the link. Haaaaa it looks like this company is in India and the batteries they are selling is the 12 volt lead acid and not the 400 Volt main traction battery. I didn't see any links for buying old batteries but maybe I just over looked it on the web site.
My wife and I just purchased a 2012 leaf with 16k miles on it. Fully charges still and gets about 90 miles around town and freeway. Best car we have purchased in awhile. I am excited about the upgrade to batteries in a couple years high with how cheap this was to buy and how great it is we are happy.
We absolutely love our leaf!! It does exactly what we thought it would, which is getting us around town. On most days it's the only car we drive and it's probably the best car I have ever owned. 2013 with 21,000 miles, still has twelve bars and can easily get 60 to 70 miles which is far more then we normally use. I figure in 8 years I'll buy a new battery pack for probably $2,500 that will go farther, last longer, be lighter, and charge faster then the current one. It's all about the batteries and they are improving at a breakneck pace. Nissan leafs are a tremendously good deal right now. Our average cost has been about a dollar per day to drive.
Closing in on 18 months with my Leaf with about 26k miles driven In Austin, Texas driving 25 miles to work and back plus some added miles taking my children to school. No battery bars lost as yet. Averaging 4.2 miles/kwh. Only time I have any concerns on range is the coldest of winter if you run the heater constantly. I drive slower then and may turn off the heater periodically for a time to preserve range. With the seat and steering wheel warmers it's not that big of a deal unless there is rain freezing on the windshield (which forces you to run the heater). I drive in eco mode and depending on hwy vs city and how I drive range varies between 80 to 95 miles per charge. Car is PERFECT for my commute and saves tons in gas--almost pays for itself considering my previous commute was in a gas guzzling SUV.
People are always worried about the battery on the car. That is why I did a 2 year lease and at the time of delivery, I was planning on turning it back in at the end of the lease. After a year with the car now, however, I like it so much that I may extend the lease another year, or buy all depends on what works out best financially. After 13 months and 13,000 miles, I have experienced no perceivable battery capacity range remains within 5% of what it was when brand new. First, consider the cost of fuel. 60,000 miles at 50 miles per gallon and $3.00 per gallon means you will spend $3,600 on gasoline to drive 60,000 miles. With the Leaf, I average about 4.0 Miles per kWh and pay $0.08 per kWh, so my fuel cost is approximately $1,200 to drive 60,000 miles. I will save $2,400 in fuel costs alone over 5 years. Don't forget to multiply your effective hourly wage by the amount of time you will spend standing in the heat, cold, wind and rain at gas stations. Plugging the Leaf in every night and unplugging it every morning while closed up in my insulated garage adds approximately 15 seconds to my day. Now I hear a new battery can be purchased for $5,500 after a $1,000 core credit for turning in the old battery. If you had to buy a new battery after only 5 years, your battery cost is now $3,100. Any additional life to the battery over 5 years lowers the price that much more. After hearing this effective price on the battery, I'm more inclined to considering a purchase at the end of the lease. Now, think about this: you buy a new gasoline car and drive it for 5 years. How much will service cost on that vehicle over 5 years? Don't forget to include your effective hourly pay multiplied by time spent servicing it yourself or driving to and from a service center. Since the Nissan Leaf power train has one moving part (the "squirrel cage" rotor of the electric motor) versus the hundreds of moving parts of an internal combustion engine and transmission, maintenance and repair time and expense is significantly reduced. I won't attempt to estimate a number, but the battery effectively becomes that much cheaper. Finally, consider that once you replace the battery, the car will perform exactly like it did when it was new, as there is essentially no perceivable wear to the drive train. The engine and transmission in a gasoline car will have some mechanical wear on it degrading the performance. Assume you keep each car 20 years and 200,000 miles. When you put your 4th battery in the Leaf, it will once again perform as new. The gasoline car will have mechanical wear of enough significantly that it's performance will be measurably degraded. For example, my car before the Leaf was a 1993 BMW 325i. When new, that car would run 0-60 mph in 7 seconds. At 210,000 miles, 0-60 took 10 seconds. They only way to recover that performance would be a new engine. Basically, do you want all your costs in one lump sum as a battery purchase, or do you want it all spread out in maintenance costs? For me, I am factoring in the instant torque, relatively quick 0-30 times, quiet and smooth shiftless drive train, comfort of cabin preconditioning, and convenience of never getting gas again. With all these things considered, if I had to do it over, I would buy the leaf again.
I too am enthusiastic about EV's but I think your EV vs Gas comparison is a little skewed towards EV. Its now 6 months since your review here. Gasoline is now $1.70 a gallon here in NW Florida. Your 60,000 miles at 50 MPG would now cost $ 2,040, we pay $0.118 per KWh so that would be $1,770 for 60,000 miles, but wait, that dose not include the cost of installing the 220v system required for a faster charge in our garage, but lets say we already had that ( we don't) then over 6 years our fuel savings would be $270, Then my 8 synthetic oil changes with filter another $290, (I do the work myself and as I'm still going to have to rotate the tires on both cars at the same intervals my additional time spent on the prius hybrid is negligible. So now we have saved $540 with the leaf. But now at 60,000 miles I need to spend $5,500 for a new battery on the leaf, plus about $1k on the dealer to install it so $6,500 + 6.5% tax = $6,922. Less the $540 saved in fuel and maintenance over 60,000 miles = the Leaf costing me $6,382 more in fuel and maintenance in the first 60,000 miles. I own 3 Prius now, a 2005, 2006 and 2011, both of the older ones have just at 200k miles on them and I've replaced one Traction battery at 173,000 miles. Other wise additional maintenance has been minimum with similar items I would expect on the leaf's, while the leaf's do have fewer parts in the drivetrain they and the prius still have other items that need attention. Breaks, tires, rotations, wiper blades, 12 volt battery, cabin filter ect. In the first 60k I would guess maintance on both cars outside the 8 oil changes would be similar So $6,300 in additional operations cost in the first 60,000 miles than my Prius, a limited range of 80 some miles with out some additional planning and think of a 800 mile trip, god knows what the resell will be after the 2017's come out, probably will be very dismal and very, very few looking to buy em. After writing this and thinking about it I bet in 2017 my 12 yr old Prius with over 200k miles will be worth more than a 2013 Leaf with 40k on it. I just talked myself out of buying a $10,000 2013 Leaf SL with 18,000 miles on it!
We had the same problem with our 2011 Leaf. Battery started going bad on day one, by the time we had 11,000 miles we were looking at a replacement pack for $6800. Same as you we saved a few bucks on fuel and oil changes but lost way more than that on getting the docking station installed in our garage. Took $14,000 in deprecation to drive 11,000 miles. All I can say is "Thank you Nissan for making those under designed batteries".
When will it be possible to buy a *spare* battery that can double the range during occasional long trips, and sit in the garage when it's not needed (rather than weighing down the car *all* the time, as current aftermarket battery upgrades do)?
My 2011 LEAF warranty ran out yesterday. I'm three bars down and have been monitoring the batteries with LEAF Spy. Nissan "upgraded" my software a couple years ago. In the process in order to protect themselves from the battery warranty costs, they limited the full charge on type 3 chargers to 80%. This is pretty well known. What few people know is they also limited the full charge on type 1 & 2 chargers to less than 96%. When less than 16 miles are driven, this "full charge" number drops even further. This means that somewhere around 50% of the time I have less than 70% capacity in my batteries after a "full charge". I've set my LEAF to charge at night on my type 2 charger for 6 hours. It doesn't fully charge. I've also used the on-board timer to set up 100% charge. Doesn't happen. These guys are crooks
Crooks is an understatement. It starts at the way top and goes all the way to the guy in the shop. We lost our first bar at 3400 miles. Went into the local dealership here in Manassas and the service tech and service manager both told me "Capacity loss is normal and Expected you are not getting a new battery". We just picked up a 2016 Volt in January as soon as they were available here. World of difference. Everything on the Volt works, the App works. difference between night and day. Will never buy another Nissan will never recommend any Nissan to anybody.