30kWh Leaf Batteries Flawed? Maybe Not...
Updated: Jun 19, 2018
Much has been said recently about the battery degradation on the 30kWh battery in the leaf. Reports from a various studies show up to 3 times the degradation of batteries compared to 24kWh Leafs.
Has Nissan jeopardised the entire EV industry uptake with dodgy chemistry and passive cooled solutions? Has the mighty Leaf got a fatal flaw? What about the next generation? 5 years from now will this car be completely useless?
Time will tell, but we think we need to consider the facts, and throw just a little thought and commonsense into the mix before we write off the Nissan Leaf.
According to urban myth and legend, taxi drivers and taxi companies treat their cars really poorly, so if battery degradation were going to affect anyone, it would be our drivers and our Nissan Leafs, right?
Here are some facts:
We drive our Leafs all day, and everyday. We almost exclusively fast charge, usually multiple times per day.
All our Nissan leafs ( leaves?) are company owned and leased to drivers, and generally, in the wild, leased vehicles are treated more poorly than a loving and doting private owner will look after their prized possession.
They get loaded up with 4 big guys and all their luggage, and spend much of their lives climbing Wellington and Queenstowns hills.
It is really interesting then, after a year of "abuse", our Leaf batteries are in amazing condition.
In fact the 3 Wellington based cars we tested this week show a state of health (see our blog on Leafspy on how to test your battery: https://www.greencabs.co.nz/the-green-blog/thinking-about-buying-your-first-ev) of 93.86%, 95.57% and 91.75%.
How is this possible when other Nissan Leaf owners are complaining their cars are the same age with only 10% of the use and their batteries are as low 80% or even lower already? Statistically it is we can’t draw too many conclusions. 3 Leafs does not a huge statistical population make. But it is interesting.
At least on the face of it, it seems like the Nissan Leaf 30kWh battery likes how we are treating it, so what do we do differently than a private owner may do?
We fast charge almost exclusively. Our drivers generally do not have access to charging at home and when on the road, time is literally money, so fast chargers are the main way these vehicles are topped up. All of our vehicles are in the hundreds of fast charges, with the highest over 300!
Drivers typically only charge to 80%. Time is money, and after 80% charge is acquired, the charging speed is throttled back, making the last 20% take considerably longer, consuming both time AND money as fast chargers have a time component to their charging model. The most economical way for the drivers to work is only charge to 80%.
Drivers do not generally run the battery too far down. If you think range anxiety is a thing for the general public, then you need to experience a taxi driver who may miss out on a big job because he does not have sufficient charge in the vehicle! Generally sweaty palms and nervous ticks start with the EV drivers below 50%, and get progressively worse until 25% when fixation on the remaining battery turns to full blown paranoia and the driver has to get his fix urgently.
Taxi drivers are usually contractors. If they do not work, they do not earn. Most of our team work long hours to maximise their incomes. This means the cars get very little down time, generally covering up to 200km per day. The cars are almost never sitting idle.
So, all of this seems to indicate a couple of things.
Nissan Leafs thrive under harsh conditions.
Nissan Leaf batteries seem to enjoy the way we treat them.
Based on that, here's some recommendations that may help you get the most from your Nissan Leaf battery (from a taxi companies perspective, of course):
Charge to 80% rather than 100%
Charge at 25% rather than running the battery low.
Use the car.
Don’t be afraid to fast charge.
For those data geeks out there (and lets face it, if you read this numbers are your thing 😊), the first leafspy image below is from our 24kWh leaf, and the following 2 are from 2 of our 30kWh leaf: