The Nissan Leaf will be getting a new battery pack

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Nissan Leaf

Under the hood of the current Nissan Leaf. Image: Tom Raftery/Flickr/CC BY-SA

The Nissan Leaf sold well in its initial offering, but sales have slowed much since that time. The higher cost of EVs has hindered their adoption in the U.S., and much of that added expense is due to the battery pack. Now, says Nissan, it is making a new battery pack for the Leaf that will cut costs. Others speculate it may also  half the Leaf’s charging time and increase its range. However, the automaker has been stingy with the specifics.

Lowering the cost of the Nissan Leaf

Since it first appeared in 2010, Nissan has sold more than 35,000 Leafs in the U.S. However, 9,674 of those were sold in 2011. This August — admittedly a traditionally slow month for auto sales — only 685 sold nationwide. That is a 50 percent drop from the previous year.

Nissan is taking steps to turn that around. Carlos Ghosn, Chief Executive Officer of the Japanese automaker, told The Wall Street Journal that a new battery pack is in the offing, and may be seen in showroom models as early as next year.

Ghosn told the financial news agency last week:

“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.”

Strained diplomatic relations

Recently, the relations between Japan and China have become strained over Japan’s announced purchase of the disputed Diaoyu Islands. That bad blood has hurt the sales of Japanese vehicles in the world’s largest car-buying market. Ghosn did not address the situation head-on in his comments to the Wall Street Journal Friday. However, he did say that it could be a problem for Nissan if tensions increase.

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Speculation, not specifics

Nissan, unlike Ford and GM, makes its own battery packs. Unfortunately, neither the automaker not its CEO have been forthcoming with specifics on the now battery pack. But there has been speculation.

According to Hybrid Cars, there have been reports in the blogosphere regarding a Japanese-language posting that the Leaf’s new battery will deliver Nissan magic in the form of 25 percent more power.

Other analysts, again according to Hybrid Cars, have speculated that the new pack may eschew the Lithium-Ion chemistry in lieu of Nickel Manganese Cobalt li-ion cells. Again, however, that has not been confirmed by Ghosn or Nissan.

It seems more certain, however, that the range of the Nissan Leaf on a  full charge — currently around 70-80 miles — should increase to around 100 miles in the next-generation Leaf.


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