Posts Tagged ‘batteries’

2016 Nissan LEAF To Get Triple-Digit EV Range

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, June 6th, 2015

2015 Nissan LEAF

Nissan has a problem. The next generation of their all-star EV, the Nissan leaf, isn’t due out until the middle of 2017 at the earliest. But, many of the car’s competitors are starting to rise in popularity, due in large part to their new model offerings.

For example, BMW’s new i3 (which can be had as a PHEV or EV) doubled its sales in May. The car’s biggest competitor, the Chevrolet Volt, just had its best month of sales ever in May with 1,618 deliveries, less than a thousand short of the Leaf’s May sales… And Chevy’s bringing their next-generation Volt out at the end of this year, not next.

If something doesn’t change soon, there’s a very good chance that the Volt will outsell the Leaf for the first time ever before the end of 2015. Unacceptable!

So, what’s Nissan going to do?

According to a recent report from InsideEVs, Nissan plans to offer an upgraded battery on the two higher trims of the Leaf for the 2016 model year. The SV and SL trims will both come with a 30 kWh battery, while the baseline S trim will retain the 24 kWh unit that’s used in all Nissan’s EVs now.

A 30 kWh battery would represent a 25% increase in the Leaf’s power storage capacity, which would allow the EV to finally hit triple-digit range numbers… According to the anonymous dealerships cited by InsideEVs, Nissan estimates the new Leaf will get a range between 105 and 110 miles per charge. Of course, Nissan’s official spokesman, Brian Brockman, is adamant that these are not to be taken as official specs. He told Autoblog, “We have made no public announcement about the 2016 Nissan LEAF. We do not comment on future product details.”

Also, keep in mind that this new expanded battery is still only a shadow of the potential that Nissan has hinted at for the next-gen model due out in mid-2017. Current rumors state that the next-gen Leaf will have a range beyond 200 miles, which would put it unquestionably ahead of even the Tesla Model 3, much less the 50-mile range of the next-gen Chevy Volt.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Nissan Leaf

2014 Nissan LEAF

Since it’s going to still be at least a couple more years until the next-generation Nissan Leaf hits the market, now is the perfect time to pick up an affordable first-gen Leaf from the auctions in Japan.

2014 Nissan LEAF rear

What we have here is a 2014 model year in a Deep Blue Pearl, which we expect to be added to the lineup as a standard color option for the 2016 model year.

2014 Nissan LEAF interior

Other than that, you probably already know if this car is for you. It’s a standard 2014 Nissan Leaf in spectacular shape with less than 7,000 kilometers on the odometer. A 5 auction rating, A-grade interior and exterior, barely a scratch or blemish across the entire car. Learn more via the auction sheet translation below:

2014 Nissan LEAF auction sheet

Interior A, exterior A, first registered April 2014, X 80th Special Color Limited model, FAT, AAC, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, original navigation system and TV, wheels scratched, door mirrors scratches, front windscreen scratched, interior grime and scratches, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map

Nissan Hints at Intentions for the Next-Gen Nissan Leaf EV

Posted by Stephen On Monday, May 12th, 2014

Nissan has big changes in store for their next-generation Leaf even though the new model isn’t due for debut until sometime after 2017. There’s no doubt that the Leaf is an important vehicle for Nissan, so they’re going to take the next few years to improve its foundation – the battery.

2014 Nissan Leaf

The information comes via recent interview between Nissan company executives and Automotive News, as well as an interview with Andy Palmer following last month’s Beijing Motor Show.

Better Range from a Better Battery

The 2014 Nissan Leaf has an EPA-estimated driving range of 84 miles, which is a 9-mile improvement over the previous model year’s 75 mile range. However, even though Nissan credits the improvement to some slight mechanical tweaks, the truth is that the EPA updated their driving range calculation for 2014, so nothing’s really changed. Nonetheless, the fact that Nissan wants you to think something’s changed reveals a truth about electric vehicles – better range equals more sales. Nissan’s executives confirmed exactly that in their interview with Automotive News.

So, how do you get better range from an electric vehicle?

With a better battery!

According to the aforementioned interview with Andy Palmer, “Battery chemistry is all about range and energy density. That’s where you see the technology moving very, very fast. This really is the game-changing technology.”

The next obvious question is, exactly how far will the next Nissan Leaf be able to go?

While Palmer didn’t give us a specific answer, he did estimate that an electric vehicle would need to travel a minimum of 186 miles (300km) per charge to compete with the HFCVs that’ll be on the market within the next few years. That would be a 120% improvement over the current Leaf’s range.

In the meantime, Nissan intends to update current and future Leafs over the next couple years with more durable batteries for increased lifespan.

Next-Gen Nissan Leaf Design

Automotive News also elicited a few hints about the next-gen Leaf’s aesthetics, and they’re actually quite interesting. According to Mamoru Aoki, Nissan’s chief of global design, the Japanese automaker has a new policy for electric vehicle design. “The current Leaf is aiming too much at an EV-like appearance. Tesla doesn’t look EV at all. The Tesla S just looks nice, very sporty, sleek, but very authentic.”

To translate this point of view into possible design projections, you can expect the next Nissan Leaf to retain its hatchback structure, but look a lot less like an EV. That means it’ll probably inherit Nissan’s V-Motion design theme with a classy, premium-feeling aesthetic instead of a bubbly, hipster one.

Speaking of premium, Nissan executives also offered a possible launch date for the delayed Infiniti EV sedan. Palmer had already cited insufficient battery technology as the reason for the wait, so with this news about the next-gen Leaf’s improved range, it’s natural to assume the Infiniti EV will come around the same time. That means it’ll probably arrive in late 2016 or early 2017. However, Palmer did explicitly state that it would come BEFORE the next-gen Leaf, citing that the Infiniti EV’s larger body allows more room for a bigger battery.

As you can see, Nissan definitely isn’t going to rest on their laurels with the successful Leaf EV. Even as sales continue to grow year after year, the Japanese car maker is seeking ways to improve their already top-notch vehicle.

Nissan Launches the Largest Battery Plant in the US to Ramp Up LEAF Sales

Posted by Stephen On Friday, December 14th, 2012

Yesterday Nissan announced in a press release that their lithium-ion battery plant in Smyrna, Tennessee is finally prepped for production; the first batteries have been aged appropriately and are now ready for their first dose of power. The plant is apparently equipped to produce up to 200,000 lithium-ion batteries per year for the 2013 Nissan LEAF. According to the press release, this new battery plant is the largest of its kind in the United States, and one of three such large-scale plants in the entire world.

This new Tennessee-based battery plant does not come unprecedented, however. December marks two years of sales for the all-electric Nissan LEAF. Even though some might see the car as slow-selling, Nissan is still calling it “the most successful 100% electric vehicle in history”. Before the opening of this new Tennessee plant, Nissan had sold 18,000 LEAFs in the United States, and close to 50,000 globally. With the launch of the Smyrna plant, Nissan expects annual US sales to double and for the car to hit 20,000 units sold by the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2013.

While I would be skeptical of seeing sales of any all-electric vehicle double in just one or two years as Nissan is estimating, there’s no denying that this is a big step for the Japanese car manufacturer. Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co., boldly declared that “opening this US plant is an important milestone in Nissan’s overarching strategy to foster sustainable mobility around the world”.

Market impact aside, the economic impact of this new battery plant is not to be understated. Once the batteries from the new Smyrna plant have been charged and prepped for installation, they will be shipped to another nearby Tennessee plant that currently makes the Nissan Ultima and Maxima, but which is being re-tooled for LEAF production. Nissan estimates that “adding production of the Nissan LEAF and the battery has resulted in the creation of more than 300 US manufacturing jobs to date… Combined operations could add up to 1,000 additional jobs as needed.” That’s a lot of jobs!

It seems that launching the new battery plant is a win-win for everybody involved – Nissan gets to cut costs while delivering environmentally friendly vehicles to US drivers, and the Tennessee economy gets a sorely needed 300 to 1,300 manufacturing jobs in the process. You can expect to see this type of trend continue, as Nissan and many other Japanese auto-makers open more plants in the United States to cut costs. Nissan in particular “aims to have 85% of all Nissan and Infiniti products that are sold in the United States produced in North America” by 2015.

Whether or not you are a fan of the 2013 Nissan LEAF, whether or not you see this new battery plant having the dramatic effect on sales that Nissan is hoping for, there’s no denying that this is an admirable move on Nissan’s part. I, for one, see this as only good news!

Honda Introduces Rare Earth Metal Recovery Tech for Old Hybrid Car Batteries

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Hybrid sales are booming all over the world, but particularly in Japan — where it is expected that hybrids may exceed 20% of all new cars sold in 2012.

Honda itself has sold around 800,000 hybrids since introducing its first hybrid vehicle in 1999, and of these 500,000 were sold between 2009 and 2011.

So sales are accelerating. But this is happening in tandem with a couple of related problems: First, how to source enough rare earth metals in the face of exponentially accelerating demand. Secondly, what to do with the expiring batteries of hybrids as these cars start to reach the end of their useful lives.

Honda says it has found the answer to both of these questions — recycling.

It sounds obvious, but Honda is the first maker claiming to be able to do this on the industrial scale that will be increasingly necessary in the coming years.

A typical hybrid car battery weighs in at 20 kilograms and uses several kilograms of the rare earth metal nickel (as nickel-metal hydride – or NiMH / Ni-MH). Rare earth metals like nickel are largely sourced from China, a country that has become increasingly protective of its natural resources as its domestic demand has increased. Japan, on the other hand, tends to be resource-poor, making reliance on foreign supplies an increasingly risky choice for car makers selling ever-growing numbers of hybrids and EVs.

Under the Honda system, batteries are recovered from hybrids through Honda’s dealer network and are sent off to  Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd.‘s Oguni plant in Yamagata where the battery is disassembled and over 80% of the rare earth metals recovered for reuse.

The recovery process itself works with so-called Mischmetall  (which literally means “mixed metals”) used for the negative electrode in the battery. After the battery is dismantled, this is fired at high temperature and ground up. The rare earth metal portion melts and can then be extracted. The purity of the metal is then of the same level as it would be if it had been mined.

With just 1,034 hybrid vehicle batteries recycled in Japan during the 2010 – 2011 financial year period, this sector is expected to experience very strong growth as increasing numbers of hybrids reach the ends of their useful lives.

After all, what’s the point of having a “green” car if its demise is a decidedly environmentally unfriendly event?

Source: Nikkei (Japanese)

Honda Fit EV To Use Toshiba SCiB Batteries

Posted by Stephen On Friday, November 18th, 2011

Honda will become the second company after Mitsubishi to use Toshiba’s Lithium Ion SCiB batteries when it launches its electric vehicle (EV) Fit in the US and Japanese markets in 2012.

The SCiB battery pack can charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes and can be recharged up to 4,000 times. It is also able to withstand temperatures of up to minus 30 degrees Celcius.

Honda is planning to offer the Fit EV under a lease program in the US from summer 2012 with a target of 1,100 vehicles sold over a three-year period. It will also start sales of the same vehicle in Japan during 2012, although it has not yet been decided whether these will be direct to consumer or lease sales.

Honda Fit EV using Toshiba SCiB batteries

The same SCiB batteries are used in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, whereas the Fit EV’s main rival – the Nissan Leaf – uses NEC battery technology.

As Tog Gear demonstrated in such an exaggerated manner in its latest season of shows, one of the main disadvantages of the current crop of EVs is that the recharging time is relatively long. The more widespread uptake of quicker-charging battery packs like Toshiba’s SCiB undoubtedly goes some way towards answering those criticisms.

Source: Nikkei (Japanese)