Rumour has abounded for ages now as to how long a battery on an all electric car, such as the Nissan Leaf would last before it started to degrade and not hold as much power as it did originally. The cost of replacing the battery has also been something that hasn’t been spoken about much, I guess to not put people off buying one of these presently pointless cars.
Information seems to be getting out bit by bit and the latest is that Nissan has revealed that the battery pack they use will see its battery capacity drop “by at least” 20% after 5 years. That means the claimed 100 mile range is going to reduce also. Nissan say that the degradation will depend on “charging and usage” and it was also revealed that whilst the battery carries a 5 year warranty, it does not cover the effects of degradation.
More shocking news (that’s not a pun) appeared as Nissan’s UK Senior Vice President Andy Palmer has revealed that the 48 module lithium-ion power cell used in the Nissan Leaf, presently costs £404 for each module. From that, it’s not a difficult calculation to work out that replacing all 48 at £404 a time is going to cost £19,392 and that’s an incredible amount of money, after all just think of the eco-diesel car you could buy for far less than just the cost of a battery for an electric car.
To clarify it all and I guess not make it seem that bad, a Nissan spokeswoman told Auto Express Magazine that the £19,000 cost was not what owners are likely to pay in the real world as its unlikely that all 48 modules would need replacing. She also said something strange and that was that “the cost of a conventional engine and transmission built up from individually sourced parts would be similarly high”. So what’s she trying to say? Is she inferring that in the same period and the same mileage, a conventional car would need a new engine & transmission? If she is, well she is way off the mark as we all know how long a conventional engine lasts and how many miles they can run for. I fail to see her point.
There is however light at the end of the tunnel in as much as Nissan expects the cost of the battery units to decrease in price substantially by 2013 when the Nissan plant in Sunderland will start producing an estimated 500,000 packs a year.
After you’ve done with your battery, apparently they are going to be used to store power from solar and wind schemes and Nissan say this will help maintain the Leaf’s residual value.
Looking at CAP Motor Research anticipated residual values, its presently showing the Leaf to be worth £10,700 or 35% of its new price when the car is 3 years old, with 30,000 miles on the clock. It’s showing maintenance costs for the same period as £462.
Incidentally, we tested the Nisan Leaf which we were highly impressed with and you can see our review of the car in the Road Test section of this website.