As of May, LEAF drivers in Japan will be able to swap out 24 kWh battery packs and receive a reconditioned unit for a fee of just under US$3,000
Nissan has announced that it will soon allow Japanese LEAF owners to return their used batteries, with the option of receiving reconditioned units instead.
As of May, drivers will be able to return old units and receive “refabricated” packs for a fee. Nissan said it has partnered with 4R Energy, a joint venture company created with Sumitomo, to offer the program. Packs will be recycled and reconditioned at 4R’s Namie factory on the country’s east coast, where they will be redeployed in other EVs and in large-scale storage systems and electric forklifts.
24-kilowatt-hour refabricated batteries will be offered at 300,000 yen (US$2,850), although Nissan says it plans to expand the lineup of units offered.
Brand-new LEAF batteries cost around 650,000 yen (US$6,200) for 24 kWh, 800,000 yen (US$7,600) for 30 kWh and 820,000 yen (US$7,800) for 40 kWh, it added.
“Nissan hopes that by reclaiming these batteries, it can help lower battery replacement costs and heighten the used-car value of electric vehicles. This will enhance the electric-car ownership experience, which in turn will help promote their use,” the company said.
The practice seems like an attractive alternative to older finance models, such as Nissan’s Flex program (which has since ended), under which customers entered into long-term leasing agreements for the battery packs in their EV. This was seen by many as detrimental to the expansion of EV use, largely because drivers could be tied into long agreements by a manufacturer that appeared less than confident in the quality of its batteries.
A similar model is still used by Renault for the Zoe.
Previous schemes have seen Nissan and 4R redeploy old packs in stationary storage applications, with the help of Green Charge Networks. However, since the latter was acquired by multinational energy supplier Engie, it appears that the partnership may have been discontinued.
With the LEAF one of the more popular small EVs on the road, the scheme is likely to see similar demand in Europe and the US, and may help assuage some fears of EV depreciation.
Yet an additional US$3,000 is not an inconsiderable premium to add to the longevity of the EV after just a few years’ service. The long-term focus from all automakers must also be on offering more competitive reconditioning schemes and in devising packs with better cycling and longer lifespans, if the consumer uptake of EVs is to continue.