Battery Swap Gives Nissan LEAF New Lease On Life

It’s often said that one of the advantages of owning an electric vehicle is reduced maintenance costs, and for the most part, that’s true. That is, until the vehicle’s battery pack starts to show its age. Then you might be on the hook for a repair bill comparable to swapping out the engine on your old gas-burner. Depending on the age of the vehicle at that point, you might find yourself in the market for a new ride.

But in his latest video, [Daniel Öster] demonstrates that you can replace the battery in a modern electric vehicle without breaking the bank. While it’s not exactly an easy job, he manages to swap the pack in his 2012 Nissan LEAF from the comfort of his own garage using common tools and with the vehicle up on jack stands. The old battery wasn’t completely shot, so he was even able to recoup some of his costs by selling it; bringing the total price of the operation to approximately €2,122 ($2,500 USD).

Splicing on a new diagnostic connector.

While that wouldn’t be a bad deal even for a simple swap, the operation was actually an upgrade. The car was originally sold with a 24 kWh battery, but [Daniel] has replaced it with a 30 kWh pack intended for the 2017 LEAF. His car now has a greater range than it did the day it rolled off the assembly line, though as you might expect, the installation was more complex than it would have been with a contemporary battery.

[Daniel] has produced a kit that has all the adapters required to perform your own battery upgrade, including a module that translates the diagnostic signals from the newer battery into something the older vehicle can understand. With all the electrical bits simplified, all you’ve got to worry about is drilling the new battery mounting holes in the frame.

The battery pack is truly the heart and soul of an electric car, so its no surprise that mechanics and hackers alike are eager to learn as much about them as possible. They’ll have their work cut out for them, as the technology is only going to get more advanced with time.

125 thoughts on “Battery Swap Gives Nissan LEAF New Lease On Life

  1. that’s one of the big problems with electrical cars, they just have that large cost built into them (battery replacement). His car was only a 2012 one, and it already needed replacing.
    I drive a 2010 car that I’ve pretty much done nothing but put petrol and oil in it, and change the tires. I’ve also got a 2002 car that is now up to 250K kms, and apart from things like brake pads, tires,etc the only semi major thing was changing the timing belt (twice..) and that wasn’t hard, just fiddly..

    However, it’s these types of articles that hold out hope – if a home user can wack in a new battery without to much work, and swap it over for 2.5K (USD) it does get a lot more doable. Lets hope manufactures support it by making it straight forward to do….
    Which then leaves the larger issue of electric cars being city only – but given a lot of people only do city driving that’s not too bad. For the rest we are going to have to stay with petrol, or have an electric for around town and petrol for out of town.

    1. Hi Ian, the vehicle did not actually need a battery upgrade (still at 75% state of health), but since my company requires me to do R&D on the 2011-2013 Nissan Leaf, I did the upgrade anyways.

      I have serviced some high mileage Taxi vehicles, that use Nissan Leaf in their fleet. Batteries on this first gen lasts around 250-300k km before actually becoming unusable for a moving vehicle. After installing the newer gen batteries, these vehicles will probably last way longer than an ICE counterpart.

      BR
      Dala

      1. > (still at 75% state of health)

        Not far from being dead anyhow. Depending on the battery, the point where the capacity curve takes a nose dive lands between 60-70%. Lithium batteries have a shelf life between 8-10 years, up to 12-15 in very light use, so if you didn’t do the upgrade now you would have needed it next year.

        1. That is simply not true. The LMNO2 chemistry is very stable, I have customers that use vehicles still in hot climates where the SOH dropped to 35-40%. These vehicles are still usable around town!

          In cooler climates (like Nordic countries), these passively cooled packs will easily last 20+years.

          1. I’ve seen papers on LMNO2 batteries that were lightly charged and discharged for 13 years to EOL. I don’t doubt they’re still “usable around town”, but that’s because you’re only driving them a handful of kilometers and then immediately plugging back in. Driving “around town” here means you’d be going a maximum 15 kilometers round-trip, and that you can do with just 10% of the battery left.

            It is simply true that when a li-ion battery ages, the damage done to the battery by cycling it increases with every cycle, and this is a factor of use and time. No lithium battery on the market makes an exception to this.

            In cooler climates, what you win by a longer shelf-life is taken away by increased energy demand, since the Leaf has been measured drawing almost twice the energy in the winter than in summer.

          2. Note that both the shelf-life and cycle life is measured down to a certain capacity drop, usually 63% remaining, although sometimes 80% can be used as a metric of “still almost as good as new”.

          3. For the stability of the LMnO2 chemistry:

            https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369702114004118

            “Mn leaches out of LMO during cycling (…) Mn concentration in the electrolyte and anode SEI has been observed to increase with aging for Mn containing cathodes (…) the anode impedance is seen to increase with Mn dissolution (…) The insufficient long-term cyclability is believed to originate from irreversible side reactions with electrolyte, oxygen loss from the delithiated LiMn2O4, Mn dissolution, and formation of tetragonal Li2Mn2O4 at the surface especially at the fast c-rates”

            The LMO battery is hurt by high temperature, age, and fast charging/discharging, and its energy density is not the best of the bunch, which makes it pretty bad on all points that matter for a car. Its only advantage is the relatively cheap price and lack of Cobalt.

            The fact that the Leaf loses a lot of capacity quickly at hot climates is only a symptom of the instability of LMO. Better chemistries like NMC don’t do that – but they come at a price. Tesla had to abandon their attempt to introduce NMC with the Model 3 and continue with NCA; the reason why nobody else uses NCA is because it turns your car into a roman candle in a crash.

          4. My father has a 2012 leaf with 7 bars of health, japanese import with 70000km on it, range shows 100km on a full charge,but realistically he’s lucky to get 70km out of it,I’m fed up getting calls to say he’s ran out of charge somewhere or another, thinking of getting him a Prius,as a compromise, he’s 80,so neither of us need the stress anymore 😂😂

        2. This ‘Dude’ has an agenda.

          So many uninformed comments from you. There’s only 88 comments on this post and 20 are from you! lol

          I mean you try to sound informed, but you’ve clearly never owned an EV in your life.

          1. There are too many people posting batshit claims about lithium batteries.

            It’s partially influenced by the fact that people think EV systems with battery management systems and cooling system are the same as their laptop batteries or cellphone batteries.

            Lithium batteries went from about $1000 per kilowatt hour of storage in 2010 to $110 per kilowatt hour of storage today.

            Despite the FUD being spread by folks like flat earther’s and science deniers, technology is primarily driven by economics. And just like the decreased maintenance costs of EV’s, there are compelling financial reasons for electric vehicles other than taking fuel, renting it temporarily, then turning it into carbon monoxide. After you burn thousands of liter’s of fuel over the same lifespan of an EV battery, you have nothing.

            Seems like a no brainer to me. Buy battery once, use it until depleted capacity makes it not useful, purchase a new battery, install it and your EV works like it did when new or as in this case, better than new.

      2. >Batteries on this first gen lasts around 250-300k km

        It’s a function of time and use. Suppose you draw 220 Wh/km. That’s about 2750 cycles out of the battery. 30 kWh batteries would last 375k except for the fact that it takes longer to drive the distance.

        The simplified way to estimate the final mileage is to draw a graph with cycles (kilometers) on the vertical and time on the horizontal axis. Put a dot on the X axis for the maximum shelf life, and a dot on the Y axis for the maximum cycle count, then draw a straight slope between them. Now you can estimate your ultimate mileage by drawing another straight line with a rising slope corresponding to how many kilometers you drive in a year.

        For example, suppose 4,000 cycles x 24 kWh / 220 Wh/km = 346,363 km
        Then suppose the battery has a maximum shelf-life of 12 years.
        For driving 50,000 km a year, the lines cross at 250,000 km and 5 years.
        For the a more typical 20,000 km a year, the lines cross at 125,000 km and 8.5 years which is just outside of the warranty that Nissan gives you. This is the point where the battery is “dead”, meaning it is now losing capacity at an accelerating rate.

        The estimate is not exact, since the battery loses capacity slower at first and faster later, and the battery is always over-provisioned (extra capacity) from the factory, but it’s not very far from how the batteries actually behave.

        1. Or if you want, we can give the battery a shelf-life of 20 years. The result is 10.5 years and 210,000 km to EOL at 20k per year.

          Increasing the battery size to 30 kWh as well gives you 11.5 years and 230,000 km. This is because the shelf-life becomes the limiting factor.

          Of course you can keep driving the car for as long as it takes you where you want to go, but the limiting factor will become the fact that you can’t take any longer trips to keep your average up, so your car has to be delegated to a town hopper.

          1. As the early EV’s were never more than a town hopper anyway you can easily loose huge amounts of potential range from them and the user will be able to do all their journey as normal, just charging up daily rather than perhaps as far apart as fortnightly…

            As mentioned above the battery degradation is actually very low on the modern chemistries, and shelf life really isn’t much of an issue if kept in the proper state. Should the modern chemistries actually play out in the real world as the accelerated stress tests indicate is always an open question until the time has passed, but we are getting good at that sort of extrapolation. So its reasonable to expect battery packs to last the ‘lifetime’ of the vehicle anyway now – yes a car can last a very long time if looked after, but most cars last 10-20 odd years range, before something makes them no longer viable (Though I’d like to see less write-off and more upcycle/restoration type cultures that isn’t the way cars are in general treated).

          2. “but most cars last 10-20 odd years range, before something makes them no longer viable”

            Well, yeah, but that’s just because the majority of people don’t actually know how to maintain a car. Especially more modern cars (mid-90s+) at that point the actual wear-out of the most expensive parts (engine, transmission) are *well* beyond 20 years even in the US. I mean, the most common thing that people mention for what limits a car in the US, for instance, is rust due to road salt, which implies they’re not doing *anything* to prevent it.

            It seems strange to buy a car to help the environment, but not be able to keep it out of the junkyard as long as others. I’d love to believe that the batteries are just periodically replaceable at 10 years/$2500 (that’s fine), but realistically how long will replacement batteries be available for older models?

          3. > the battery degradation is actually very low on the modern chemistries

            It is, and it isn’t. You have a tradeoff between price, safety, energy density, longevity, and power capacity – and you can really only pick one or two. Although, if you pick long shelf life then you can only pick “safety” because the rest go down the toilet. With either power, energy or price comes instability which compromises safety and shelf-life.

            So while you can have a battery that genuinely lasts 20 years, you wouldn’t actually buy the car. For example, Lithium Titanate (LTO) is used in electric buses that can carry the relatively heavy battery, and charge it up many times a day – and for a bus it is not that expensive. For a car, you wouldn’t buy it.

          4. Agreed Pat, agreed…
            I don’t think the batteries will become unobtainable that quickly if ever, as long as folks like us can know how the older cars communicate with their batteries a modern battery tech drop in replacement is very possible.

            And as EV’s are now into massively massproduced phase a real aftermarket car company is bound to pick up and just provide ready to fit replacements for the most common and the high end EV’s at least.
            The real bummer is the way some EV’s are built makes taking the battery out a near full disassembly and reassembly – which is horribly expensive in man hours so just won’t be done most of the time.

          5. >how long will replacement batteries be available for older models?

            Official replacement stops after the warranty of the last of the model sold ends, at least in the US. Other countries have similar laws.

          6. More specifically, manufacturers are supposed to adhere to the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act which means they have to have spare parts or some actual means to fix anything they warranty. This is because companies used to give “warranties” that actually boiled down to some nominal compensation and a pat on the back – and you were left with a broken car.

            They don’t necessarily have to sell the parts to you, but they must be available to people who make warranty claims, so they might as well sell them at rip-off prices to everyone else.

      3. Wanted to clarify what you mean. You say 250-300k km is high mileage, and that after a battery replacement it will last way longer than ICE vehicle. I’m just trying to square that with my experience.

        My truck (gas) has 135k mi (216k km or so), and it’s nowhere near end of life. I only sold my last truck with 240k mi (384k km) because I wanted a crew cab. Say your battery replacement gets you to 500k km (312k mi). That’s hardly “way longer,” especially considering trucks routinely go 300-400k mi on original engine and transmission, diesel engines even longer.

        I’m also curious over the life of 2 batteries what other maintenance/repairs are generally needed. Don’t take this as an argument; I’m really interested in what a true cost comparison looks like.

        1. It also depends on whose car it is and whether you have to take it to the dealership. Tesla for example mandated a $600 per year “maintenance” schedule for the Model S where they basically change the battery coolant fluids and your windshield wipers.

          1. No they don’t. There maintenance schedule is the same for all Tesla’s and the cycle is minimum 2 years. I just had mine done and it was $80, and they vacuumed the car for me.

            Nissan wants an inspection on the Leaf annually and my dealer charges $125 plus whatever they discovered wrong. Usually they recommend one or more fluids changed. Last year they recommended a $600 door handle replacement because a flimsy plastic tab holding the decorative cover on broke.

            Even still the maintenance on these vehicles is minimal. 5-10 year old cars and trucks require ever increasing amounts of maintenance. Up until the point where it’s cheaper to replace them and have a monthly car payment.

          2. “5-10 year old cars and trucks require ever increasing amounts of maintenance. Up until the point where it’s cheaper to replace them and have a monthly car payment.”

            Man, you *really* need to choose better cars. A 5-10 year old vehicle shouldn’t be doing more than 100k mile service, and if that’s so expensive you’re looking towards $200-300/month car payment, you chose the *wrong* car.

      4. Yeah, but if you *hadn’t* replaced it here and waited until the battery was nearly unusable, wouldn’t it have been more expensive? Would you have been able to get 1800 euros for a battery at 50% SOH?

        I mean, the battery sale cut the cost essentially in half, and that’s at 100k km. If you had gone another 100k km and not been able to resell the battery, then you’re better off ditching the battery while it still has value since cost-wise it’s equivalent and you have a more usable car for more of the time.

        1. That’s an interesting point. Maybe there will be people who drive their EV batteries for 3 years and then sell them cheaper to people who can’t afford to buy new EVs and have to breathe life to second hand vehicles.

          They get to keep a car which always goes the full distance, at full performance, and the cost of replacing the battery is distributed more evenly over time. Of course the poor people then get to deal with the fading batteries, but hey, that’s the price of being green, right?

          1. If depreciation matched the true loss of utility, I’d be fine with that: but in general it seems to be the opposite: EVs appear to retain *more* value, which is what makes it so hard for me, because no way in hell can I justify buying a car early on the depreciation curve.

      5. If you have figures from the taxis it would be great to see them!
        On some of the other things mentioned above –
        – you are in a cold country, where here any battery in the car is probably going to get to 60C or much higher if the car is left in the sun (as we regularly get 40C). My record of a thermometer left in the sun was 78C before it packed in..
        – someone said ’15km around town’ – that’s a pretty small town. I can go shopping and come back and have done 60 to 80km quite easily, without leaving the metro area. I’d regularly do 150 to 200km running around town in a single day.
        – If the battery lasted 200K km that would be fantastic, as long as it had enough to (say) 250km without charging.

      6. Interesting!

        I have a 2011 leaf, and in 2017 the first generation pack had lost about five bars (despite normally only being charged 80%.)

        Nissan offered a swap for $1600 net (they took the old battery in trade) and I took it. Not only was the new pack back at full health, but it’s still at 12 bars in 2020!

        I’ll keep driving this car at least until the cyber truck becomes available :-)

      7. I used to have a 2011 LEAF. Something I noted regarding the high voltage battery is that the cells themselves are not the only wear item in the battery. The official Nissan shop manual indicates the high voltage contactor inside the battery container also has a finite life. According to the technical description, the condition of the contactor is tracked, though exactly where is not elaborated. Normally the contactor is operated in a way that minimizes wear due to arcing but there is also the possibility the contactor could unload under high current conditions. Apparently the nature of the disconnect is also noted by the car’s computer.

        If an owner is considering doing a swap with a used or a rebuilt battery, it would probably be a good idea to look into the condition of the contactor and ensure rhe life left and the amount of contact life left accurately reflects the actual condition. I even could see routine replacement and resetting the cycle life of the contactor would make sense as part of a battery rebuild.

    2. In Europe, BEVs already provide nearly complete access, even for first generation cars. This is mostly because cities are closer to each other, but also because there’s been a concerted effort to provide continent-wide charging facilities.

      In Scotland, for example (not exactly the metropolis of Europe), the average distance between public charging points is about 4.5Km; a bit better than in the UK.

      First generation Leafs and the Leaf 2.0 suffer from a lack of a battery thermal management system which means that the state of health falls more steeply than for later EV designs. Still, 8 years for a battery that can still be used to provide baseload is impressive. My 22KWh Zoe, still manages nearly 100 miles in summer in the UK and even in late October estimates about 90 miles (though only 70 miles is practical on a single journey, and probably 80 to 85). Ultimately, these batteries will get recycled: at least the critical components will.

      When we bought our Zoe in 2017 (now 3.7 years old); we kept our previous car, a Smart ForTwo in case the EV couldn’t handle demanding journeys, but in fact we’ve never used it even for 240+ mile trips requiring 3 or 4 recharges. Note how that doesn’t add up, it’s because charging points don’t appear when you exactly need them and we tend to keep 10 to 20 miles in reserve.

      Leaf drivers know no fear, they’re happy to drive their EVs into tortoise mode ;-)

      1. In scotland too. last leaf I had in which was faulting out when on chademo but ok on a regular charge I had to drive so far to find a vacant CHAdeMO charger to try it on , by the time I got back to my garage My range was the same as when I set out. (Im an autospark, but getting more and more electric vehicles in to play with) Have to be honest seeing the que of taxis and teslas at every fast charger kinda puts me off EV’s .

        On a brighter note this particular leaf was a private hire, 3 years old atleast as it was out of warranty(and been used as a taxi since new, fast charged twice a day every day), and according the diagnostics the battery was like new. that was good to see.

        1. If you count the average availability, petrol stations are about one per thousand people, while EV charging stations are one per million people, give and take.

          I wouldn’t count many of the chargers, like Tesla’s “destination chargers” as EV charging points at all because they’re just regular sockets that keep you charging for the rest of the day to get back. The idea is just to re-brand a regular hotel or supermarket parking lot heating socket as an “EV charger” to inflate the numbers.

      2. > the average distance between public charging points is about 4.5Km

        Yeah, you can do that by installing multiple charging points on the same street and counting each of them individually. Even if the next charging point is 50-100 km away in the next town, the average distance is still going to count low because each of those “individual” chargers are placed within a kilometer or two.

        In other words, it’s a trick of statistics.

      3. yes, but that is because you are in a tiny country with towns all over the place. I drive places that might have a petrol station quite a few 100kms apart… And 240 Miles is less that what you drive before morning tea, and 3 or 4 charges for that is ridiculous..

      1. My ICE battery wouldn’t turn over last time I needed to use it but a recent1400 mile trip put on a full charge. It gets little use with an EV available. It won’t be long before EVs come with 500 mile range eliminating my need for an ICE vehicle. I even saw chargers at motels in Mississippi.

      2. Not really, while a hybrid might be the right choice for you if the use is very binary super long travel or just around town a hybrid is carrying around lots of dead weight making it worse not better for each style (though the fully electric part is the bit that suffers worse carting a completely unused ICE and fuel tank around – at least on the long travel mode the electric motor and regen type stuff is helping to offset the huge mass of battery its hauling around – still terrible MPG compared to a economy focused pure ICE vehicle though in that setting though).

        So you might well want a decent petrol engine for the long range car and a separate round town car, and still end up over their lifetime way more efficient (on any metric you care to look at, even including the cost of building the cars in the first place).

        What a plug in does very well is be reasonably efficient and cheap per mile on average for any type of driving – so if you can only have one car (which is many folks – either for lack of parking space or money) its a really good choice for most users.

          1. And double the maintenance costs and the mandatory service checks. Never mind the fact that many city dwellers are happy to have an outdoors parking place, expecting them to have place for two cars, or, heaves, a proper garage with electricity and own charger is just not realistic.

            That’s the biggest problem that is putting me off an electric car atm – lack of charging options for an apartment dweller and most EVs being completely unsuitable for longer trips (even Teslas suck for that, just slightly less than the rest …)

          2. All valid points – though having multiple cars per house is rarely multiple cars just for one driver. So if you and your co-habitants can share costs and use the right vehicle type for every trip the efficiency gains are spread out, potentially without adding any costs for having more than one vehicle.

            As always what works for your household won’t work for everyone – much like the bull floating around about the fully EV HGV’s being useless. Yes they can’t do every role an ICE powered HGV currently fills, but for many HGV’s they are an ideal, cheaper, greener replacement – so they have a great deal of purpose.

            On Jans point I think that is the biggest sticking point for EV’s – if you can’t charge it at home it becomes very hard to get good use out of for many people (though if your employer provides EV charging for example it might still work for you). And its no good lining the streets with charging points – you just know some pillock is going to go round unplugging them all on their way home from the pub one night. Sods Law stating the night right before you need to go somewhere near max range. Also the cables could make pedestrian travel hazardous.

          3. My insurance agent would let me call in a daily rider for a car I only drive a few times a year. $45 per year for registration. Long range EVs for people that don’t drive long range regularly do not make sense.

          4. > a proper garage with electricity and own charger is just not realistic.

            If you don’t have a heated garage, you don’t have an EV in many parts of the world. Lithium doesn’t charge below 0 C because it damages the battery. Some EVs have battery heaters, some don’t, and heating up the battery takes tremendous amounts of energy anyhow.

          5. > its no good lining the streets with charging points

            That’s common in the nordics where it saves a ton of fuel, emissions, and engines to have a quick warm-up before you start in the cold. However, these systems were never meant to charge EVs, and they are often on a 15 minute on-off timer to reduce the load, so only half the sockets get power at any given time.

            And yes, pillocks go around picking the cords off, which is why the post has a lid which you can lock and trap the cord from the end.

        1. At the moment the higher cost of an electric car completely outweighs the fuel saving here, even if the electricity was free. For me the break even point would be longer than the life of the battery..

    3. While I’m still a fan of petroleum fueled cars, I’m intrigued by EVs. I think if you give a fair comparison between petrol cars and EV cars, you’ll include the fueling costs that are spread out across the life of the vehicle. Most people don’t stash money away in small amounts, as they would be spending to refuel, so the sudden cost of a battery replacement seems large. There may be a day when I’m willing to make the switch, but in the US, vehicle range is still an issue for those who don’t live in or near cities.

      1. In Europe, you can charge an EV for about 1/4 of the cost of petrol (200mpg vs 50 mpg equivalent). So, assuming he’s done about 10K miles / year, 8 years = 80K miles at roughly 50mpg = 1600 UK gallons = 7200L = £8K. Cost of electricity, is about 1/4 of that = £2K, so including the cost of the battery replacement, about £4K. So the travel cost was halved.

        1. buuuut, this is only because there’s a brutal consumption tax on the petrol. Given enough EV adoption, you can expect this to change dramatically, as that tax is being used to finance the road infrastructure (at least that’s what the state claims)
          Also, you seem to have omited vehicle amortization. Since the usual EV is at least 2x as expensive, the travel cost has not changed…

    4. Very similar to the built in cost of a transmission failing…
      Or
      The ongoing scheduled maintenance.

      The Leaf is the worst example, as it has a design flaw that rapidly ages the battery.

      If the tracking pages are any good. Their sample size is pretty decent. It looks like I’ll be down from 320 miles range to 250-280 miles at about 500,000 miles.

    5. So you’ve put gas and oil in for 250k km of driving…
      That’s like 155k miles… assuming 30 mpg and $2.50 a gallon for gas, that’s $13,000 in gas.

      Assuming $20 an oil change (which is on the cheap side) that’s about $1000 in oil changes.

      Taking the $2500 from above, and dividing it out $312 a year vs your $777 a year (plus timing belts, air filters, and the like).

      Seems like the big problem with ICE is the built in costs (maintenance).

      1. No, the problem is the the electric car is much more expensive in the first place. The gap means that the electric car isn’t cheaper over a time frame of at least 10 years…

    6. Actually, the Leaf is the only vehicle on the market that does not have liquid cooled batteries. This is why the batteries don’t last well. Rather than being a common problem with electric vehicles, this problem is specific to the Leaf. My ’13 Volt with 93000+ miles has no measurable battery degradation.
      For current battery technology, liquid thermal management is imperative.

      1. That’s because the Volt has a 16 kWh battery with 9 kWh usable capacity, so they could use cheaper cells.

        The LMO batteries in the Leaf are also more sensitive to hot temperatures than other types. It’s a non-linear effect, where one really hot day ages the battery like three months of regular weather, and they assumed it wouldn’t get that hot that often – so it’s basically a double “oops” by the designers.

        1. Actually, it’s a 15kw battery with +/- 10.5 kW usable capacity. It varies a little from day to day. They allowed a higher percentage on the Gen 2 because they had been overly conservative on the Gen 1. It has not changed since the car was new. However, that’s besides the point. The Leaf is the only EV currently on the market that doesn’t have proper thermal management of the battery, and the only vehicle that has severe battery degradation.
          Most of the few Volts that do need a battery swap, it’s one of the five modules and it’s a bad temperature sensor, not a battery cell.

    7. Daniel, I am looking to do the same on a Smart Fourtwo Cabriolet and further installing 15KW regenerative braking hub motors in the front. Any ideas on how I should progress on this idea???

    8. … City only?

      I just drove my kona ev from Modesto, CA to West Palm beach, FL.

      My normal commute is 75 miles each way.
      And I do it round trip before charging again.

      Electric is totally an option.

    9. Your comparison misses some items. My 2017 bolt get equivalent of 82 mpg using a gas per gallon cost of 2.50. about 3 to 4 cents a mile. Battery pack has ab100k warranty and by then I’m betting I can get a new one fairly cheap.

    10. This issue is vastly concentrated to Nissan Leafs due to a design mistake (bad battery cooling). Most other electric cars (Tesla, Chevrolet Volt/Bolt, BMW i3 and so on) rarely ever need any battery replacement. My 2010 Volt has already 200k miles and still is on the original battery.

    11. Don’t forget you save a ton of money compared to an ICE car. Maintenance is near zero, fuel costs are 25 cents to the dollar compared to ICE, and a used EV with a good battery is half the cost of an ICE car. The savings are enough to pay for a new battery the day after you buy it and be money ahead compared to an ICE car. Also, I can drive in the HOV with an alternative fuel vehicle saving time on my commute. That time savings meant I could buy a home in a remote, high appreciation area so the indirect gains are even better.

    12. I’ve had my Leaf for two years, and haven’t had a single problem mechanically with it. Versus every single ICE I’ve ever owned, which required multiple repairs over their lifespan. So, no, an eventual battery swap is looking far, far less of an expense than keeping up an aging ICE car.

  2. This was a problem with the Nissan in 2011 (watch the vid), the batteries had no thermal conditioning and so the battery life was shortened by cold weather and extended use. Not such a problem today, in fact most batteries now come with an 8-year replacement warranty if it won’t hold more than 70% charge.
    My car takes me on an 80 mile round trip commute, 5 days a week, charging on domestic mains every night. Even at 70% charge I could get to work and back with ease. There are now lots of EVs to choose from, just pick the right one to last.
    There is still a lot of negative mythology surrounding EV batteries based on how things were a decade ago. Time moves on.
    Range anxiety really isn’t an issue when you have EVs that have a longer range than sensible people would ever consider driving in one go.
    Batteries can be either recycled or repurposed now.
    If I have one criticism it’s that EVs are still too expensive, probably because they come with so much completely unnecessary gadgetry.

    1. It’s not the gadgetry that costs money. It’s put there to “justify” the high price, because people wouldn’t buy a plain standard no-options car at that price if one with gadgets was available.

      It’s the rationalization of why it’s okay to pay twice the money for a car – “It has a 19 inch touch screen and washes your butt while driving”.

  3. You are talking about battery replacement cost. What I have not seen is the cost of all of the petrol you have NOT used, so is there a calculation that brings out the differences better?

      1. Thank you. So about $10 000 petrol cost would take you about 100 000 miles according to your numbers. I wonder how much the charging cost would be for this to have a comparison of driving cost for both type for 100 000 miles.

        1. Fuel is not the only expense in running any vehicle. Given the relative simplicity of electric drivetrains, running costs should be less for comparable miles on the odo.

          Note that this article is about the first generation Nissan Leaf. Who can say what will be available next year, let alone ten years from now. It’s a maturing technology.

          Current battery offerings from Kia covers the battery pack 7 years/100,000 miles at minimum 70% capacity. https://www.speakev.com/threads/battery-warranty.136446/

          This favorably compares to Ford’s 5 year/60,000 mile limited drivetrain warranty on gas motors.

          1. That’s apples to oranges. The battery warranty is typically to the “knee point” of the capacity loss curve, whereas the limited drivetrain warranty is basically about how long they want to support each model.

            As a first approximation, a lithium battery that is driven a certain amount per year goes through a certain number of charge cycles per year. A charge cycle is measured as the energy throughput relative to the battery capacity – not how many times you plug it in. As the battery loses capacity, the same amount of driving causes more charge cycles, so the wear-out of the battery accelerates the more you’ve driven it. You’re making the ions shuttle back and forth more and more frequently, and each cycle loses more capacity.

            The second effect is what happens when the electrodes and electrolyte degrade and go through other chemical reactions. As the battery degrades, running a current through it also powers these unwanted reactions that damage the battery further, and again more damage to the battery accelerates further damage.

            The third effect is that all of these reactions happen on their own with time as well, so as you take more time to drive more miles, the last miles damage the battery more than the first miles.

            All this has the effect that the battery capacity degrades slowly, then a little faster, and then a lot faster until it just takes a nosedive and crashes towards zero in a matter of months. The manufacturer places the warranty at the point slightly before the capacity is about to fall off the cliff.

            It’s not the same as with engines, where the failure distribution is different. If the engine lasts through the warranty, there’s a good chance it will go on running for 20+ years. If the battery lasts through the warranty, it is still guaranteed to start failing in a year or two.

          2. The EV makers want to give you the longest possible warranty they dare, to persuade you that you won’t need a replacement battery any time soon. Batteries rarely fail early, but it’s hard to predict how long they’ll actually last in use since the actual energy demand per mile can vary by half depending on circumstances.

            That’s why you can pretty much guess the warranty + 25% and that’s when the battery is toast.

      2. I’m an old guy, who drives my 2015 Nissan Leaf like a Granddad, accelerating slowly and taking routes avoiding high speed roads. I get around by taking a few extra CALM minutes in my routes. I’m VERY DETAILED in knowing EXACT charge in and EXACT energy usage. I’m a computer nerd dating back to mainframes, who loves detailed data. I charge my Leaf at night, when rates are 5 cents per kwh. One kilowatt gets me EXACTLY one mile (very convenient calculation). So NOW keep in mind, if I continue to use my pattern of slowest charging allowed, to maintain 20% – 80% charge, I ALWAYS GET one mile for one cent. Based on an ICE vehicle getting 28,800 miles for $2,500 … 28,800 miles in my 2015 Nissan Leaf costs $288 of “electricity fuel”. My savings equate to $2,212 per year.
        NOW, with that kind of savings, replacing the battery becomes economically feasible with money left over, when calculated throughout the years. On top of this, the electric motor itself is rated well over a million miles.
        My only frustration is range over 80 miles for my 24kv battery. To alleviate the range for me, goes beyond a minor jump from 24kv to the 30kv. The 40kv battery Leaf is the MINIMUM range relief for me. This makes the Nissan Leaf Eplus 60kv a perfect solution. It’s equivalent to the 250 mile range acquired by Tesla. Now you might ask, why not just get the slightly more expensive Tesla for it’s luxury aspect? The reason for staying with Leaf is because of it’s Chadmeo quick charge connection. I know you’re going to say the Tesla has a quick charge also BUT the Nissan Leaf connection is BI-DIRECTIONAL. I don’t quick CHARGE my Leaf, BUT I do have the ability to connect a Vehicle To Home converter to run my home, using my car. Now you are probably getting your brain wrapped up confused why charge from home to put back into home. The answer is, remember I charge at 5 cents, and can use THAT CHEAP ENERGY during the day when rates are high. So, I get a mile per penny, and use the rest for saving money at home during the day. Pretty good for a 66 year old retired nut like me.

    1. It not just the cost to fuel. But the cost to maintain an ICE motor. We are talking about oil changes, coolant, spark plugs and wires, filters (oil, air, and gas), motor mounts, belts, alternators, tensioners, air intake and exhaust parts, seals, etc. If you have a carburetor instead of fuel injector, add more to the upkeep cost. If you have forced induction add more to the upkeep cost. If you are in a place that requires routine emissions inspections add more to the upkeep.

      1. Does ICE require more maintenance than an EV? Having mainainted my own car for my entire driving life (never had a car to mechanic), and drove Nissan Leaf for 3 years, I would say yes ICE requires more maintenance. But depending on the specific ICE car you have, it can be pretty simple. For example changing oil on my 27 year old econobox takes me 5 minutes, car does not even need to be jacked up. Changing transmission oil is same. Almost everything is pretty easy to service. The downside of driving an EV is that if it breaks down in middle of road, there is little choice but to call a tow truck. I have broken down few times driving an ICE, but each time, I was able to get my car back on the road without any outside assistance, because troubles with ICE are fairly easy to diagnose unlike an EV which has lot of electronics. My leaf broke down once on the road and I had no clue how to get it back on the road. Overall, after having driven a leaf for three years, I would rather stick to an ICE knowning that even if there is any breakdowns, I would most likely be able to resolve it myself.

        1. >I would say yes ICE requires more maintenance.

          Over the three cars I’ve owned, almost all the maintenance I’ve ever done is with the chassis and the brakes, joints and suspension – the parts that would wear out in an EV as well. Once I’ve changed a clutch bearing and the plates, another time I had to swap out a dead alternator.

          But it is true that an EV simply won’t be driven to the point where you’d have to start fixing stuck brake calipers and worn-out U-joints. Once the battery is gone, it’s not cost effective to keep fixing the rest of the car.

          1. the decision on keeping the EV running or not will heavily depend on how much will a 2nd (3rd…?) hand battery that is still usable cost. Swapping it is mechanically simple, much simpler then swapping an engine or transmission (so it should be cheap even from a pro mechanic). One hurdle is going to be how cooperative will the software be…

  4. This may be a simple question but as the battery’s state of health declines, does the required input of electricity reduce as well?

    I’ve got a 2014 Leaf and have approximately 80% battery life. Does that mean the original 24kwh battery no longer requires 24kwh of energy input? I’m trying to do a cost saving analysis but not sure how to take into consideration the charging costs of a degraded battery.

    Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Correct. You no longer have a 24kv battery, except by name. At 80%, you have a 19.2kv battery, that “gets full” when you’ve charged up to 19.2kv. If you show 50% left on your battery, that will equate to having just over 9kv worth of charge AND capable of holding 9kv charge.

  5. This is very awesome. I’ve watched many youtube videos showing home owners attempting to replace their own battery only to find out the car doesn’t even recognize it. Now that it’s been overcome, this makes buying a used leaf much more attractive.

  6. I think this is going to become more commonplace, Thanks to guys like Daniel. They developed the software to do the swap and it works. I just replaced a 24kwh battery with a 40kwh battery in my 2013 leaf s. I went from 70-80 miles range to 150 + miles, I couldn’t be happier. (my 24kwh pack was still decent at 73% SOH and 10/12 bars in dash)

    1. Did you do this yourself or get the new pack from a dealer and have them install it? I have a 2015 Leaf and I plan to upgrade the battery in a few years but have no idea how difficult it might be for the 2015 model.

      1. I did it myself with the help of a local IT guy who is big into EV mods. The batteries are interchangeable, that’s the ‘easy’ part. Then you have to have the right software and a can bridge bus to wire up in between battery and car’s computer. It works.

  7. A lot of this applies to the e-bike community.
    While the batteries may not be as large, the e-bike community has long been
    taking apart laptop battery packs and rebuilding them to power their bikes.
    What I’d like to see is induction charging like we do with some cell phones.
    However, that would be cost prohibitive as a lot of infrastructure would have
    to be laid down. Another alternative is solar, but that only really works well
    when you have a bright sunny day. While I am a fan of e-bikes, there is something
    to be said for biologically powered bicycles. Sometimes, simple is best.
    Granted, some of those steep hills can mean walking your bike up, but
    think of the health benefits. It’s all in the mindset. Do you really need to drive
    a mile to the store just to pick up milk and eggs or would a nice bike ride suffice?
    Except for the bicycle itself, with good care and maintenance, a good bike can last
    at least half a century and indeed, there are bikes that old out there that are still
    used today. Redmond, Washington calls itself the cycling capital of the world.
    The problem is lack of infrastructure. While more bike lanes are being built they’re
    still not commonplace. As far as distance goes, more exercise means better condition,
    and better condition means more range. So as my dad once said to me, get out there and
    ride fat boy. No battery needed.

  8. Just wait, car manufacturers will kill this possibility with batterys hardcoded to the car, so you have to buy and get the batterys swapped at an authorized dealer, and they will not do it cheap. (Apple style)

    Just like in a modern BMW ICE car where you can’t simply buy a 12V battery anywhere and install it yourself
    The battery has to be BMW original, and installed by the dealer, unless you do a bypass transplant with some jumpercables so you never need to cut the power, then a cheap gas station battery works just fine…

    The explanation I got was that the car needed a specific battery because the charging computer? only worked on that exact battery, any other battery would be over or under charged by the car…
    After my jumpercable bypass transplant on my friends BMW, it has worked just fine with the cheapest battery we could find at the gas station (not even the right capacity) for atleast 5-7 years…

    1. On the contrary. People will buy more cars they can repair.

      A company like Tesla can ride their status and fame, and basically go the Apple way, but the mass manufacturer game will be decided by whose cars can be fixed the cheapest.

      That’s why Toyota Corolla is the world’s best selling car with 44 million units to date, followed by the Volkswagen Beetle (21 million units), and the classic Lada (17 million units), and then the Ford Model T with 16 million units. All of those belong to a class of affordable cars that have robust and simple engineering, and can be kept running forever on either cheap spares from multiple sources, or with bailing wire and duct tape.

  9. All EVs manufactures should be required by law to provide replacement batteries, full batteries, in exchange for “below par” batteries in their vehicles, and they should also be responsible for the total cost of recycling used batteries, or EVs will just create much more environmental waste and damage than they are supposed to prevent.

  10. This is why the 2nd generation Toyota Prius is so popular. They get great MPG even with a battery that’s well worn. A used one with a bad battery can be bought pretty cheap then for $1000 or less (if you DIY the swap) it can be replaced with a battery that’s been rebuilt with good used modules. For not much more than $1000 it can be replaced with a battery rebuilt with new 3rd gen modules. Or lay down $1600 for the highest capacity option, an aftermarket kit that uses large cylindrical cells, includes new internal wiring for the battery, has much better cooling airflow, and has the highest capacity available to put into a 2nd gen Prius.

    Makes it possible to have the high MPG of a hybrid that can get out of its own way (unlike the Gen1 that doesn’t have a boost converter so it’s *slow* accelerating when the battery taps out) and no monthly car payment.

    What makes it even better is many parts for them are crazy cheap. Body parts on car-part dot com (like a front bumper cover) are priced well under what the same part is for most other vehicles. New water pump and belt? $75 at Autozone, and not too nasty of a job to replace.

    There’s an aftermarket wiring and charger kit that maintains and monitors the charge of every module individually, instead of in pairs as the car’s system does. IIRC it may even charge the battery more than the car’s system does. the Stock system doesn’t charge it to its maximum real capacity to prolong its life. That also gives it headroom to lose capacity some while maintaining the same performance as when it was new.

    Just don’t try putting nitrous on one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hac-PvKqKQc

  11. Every time I see a battery swap I think what happened to the old one? Followed quickly by could we use that in our canal boat?

    Motoring along at a steady walking pace on still waters seems like the perfect way to use up a second-hand battery, now I’m wondering if we could use the rest of the Leaf too?

  12. I had a used first gen Leaf. It was very cheap to buy. I sold it and leased a Bolt, which was a great deal, $200/mo after CA and SCE rebates. I have home rooftop solar so in terms of fuel usage it’s 100% clean and free. My solar zeros out our electric bill. I’m wanting a VW Buzz when available. My wife has a TDI VW Touareg (2013) and we’re both retired so the mileage is pretty low. It’s pretty ideal.

  13. If Daniel is too far from you and you need to find a mechanic that’s closer to where you live, then click my name to see a worldwide directory of Nissan LEAF Battery installers and Suppliers (Daniel is on the list as well)

    1. Yes, They are the worst. I lost another bar yesterday, now I’m down to 5 bars left at 81,420 miles! – I can drive around 28 miles per charge. But, I’m getting a 2019 40kWh pack out of a LEAF that only had 2800 miles.

      1. > The leafs have horrible battery degradation

        That was certainly true for the first generation pack. My second pack has been much better. I think Nissan realizes this, and was helping out/subsidizing replacements when I got my replacement.

  14. Working in a garage that deals with EVs not sure I’d want to change a battery at home. The current in an EV is lethal if not handled correctly it’s very instant, and there is no half way point, you’re gone or your not.

    With regards to EVs in general, lithium is a rare metal and unless there is efficient recycling of lithium, that type of battery will cease to be in time to come.

  15. Hello,

    I have a 2015 Leaf. My family has put close to 80K miles ion it and LOVE it. The car drives better than any I’ve ever had. That being said, the driving distance has been a problem several times over the past 6 years. According to Nissan, the 2020 leaf can go 230 miles on a battery charge! This is a significant increase from the 70-80 miles that I can get. Is it possible to swap out my 2015 battery with the 2020 or 2021 version?

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