We were surprised by this latest information, too.
While Tesla remains the EV manufacturer with the biggest magnet for headlines, Nissan silently forges ahead selling the world’s most popular and inexpensive electric car, the Leaf. But don’t chalk its relatively high sales numbers up to cutting-edge battery technology, because that’s an area where the Leaf has traditionally lacked.
While the new Leaf Plus can claim 226 miles of EPA-rated range on a full battery, older Leaf models gained notoriety because their batteries would degrade so quickly that range, and in turn, resale value, would plummet by the time the EV found itself on the used car market. And then there was Rapidgate, a controversy surrounding the fact the Leaf’s rapid charging capability only worked when the battery was cool and not after it had gotten hot during a long trip or during a previous rapid charge earlier in the day. Those problems stem mainly from the fact that the Leaf cools its battery using passive cooling techniques rather than more robust liquid cooling technology.
And though the new Leaf still doesn’t have liquid-cooled batteries - a measure likely taken to keep the car inexpensive - Nissan wants owners and potential customers to know that the new battery is designed to last a long time. According to what managing director of Renault-Nissan Energy Services, Francisco Carranza, told Automotive News, the Leaf’s battery should last about 12 years longer than the car’s own lifespan. Since Nissan figures the reasonable lifespan of the Leaf to be around 10 years, that means the batteries should be usable for 22 years, just shy of a quarter century.
While it’s certainly nice to know that the buyer of a new Leaf can expect their car’s battery to function properly for at least a decade, it’s not so clear how long the battery will maintain its range or how steeply range drops off after that amount of time.
Regardless of that, it’s worth noting that the shortfalls of the early Leaf’s batteries actually helped Nissan get a leg-up in the electrification game because it forced the automaker to develop a good battery replacement and recycling program. Nissan recently opened a battery recycling center near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at a location the Japanese government deemed safe, all with the aim of reducing the cost to replace batteries. Additionally, the company has embarked on projects that find interesting new uses for used batteries, such as building custom vans or using them to power homes.
"We are going to have to recover those batteries,” said Carranza. "Nissan has a number of projects to use its batteries, either new or used in applications outside of the car. Last year a three-megawatt storage system using the equivalent of 148 Leaf batteries, both new and used, was opened at Amsterdam’s ArenA soccer stadium aimed at providing a more reliable and efficient energy supply and usage.”