MozzoAU
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2021 2:51 am
Delivery Date: 23 Mar 2021

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Tue Mar 23, 2021 3:10 am

I've been reading with great interest the discussions about the upgrades being carried out by Mux and Dala.

It seems that in Europe and the USA batteries salvaged from wrecks are moderately well available.
Here in Australia there are I guess between 200 and 400 of the gen 1 leafs on the road and even fewer of the more recent models as fàr as I can discover to date. Here buying a second-hand 40KWh battery or for that matter any version seems to be impossible.

I do wonder if over time those doing great work retrofitting newer batteries into the gen1 leaf are going to run out of supply.

So to my mind the next step seems to be a strong need to develop a 3rd party cell upgrade path for all the leaf models. Bluecars in NZ have made good progress doing this on their own but the technology is their own IP. It seems to me that if there was a worldwide open source collaboration we would all reach this goal sooner than each supplier developing their own solutions.

How do we get started? What are the challenges to overcome? Where are the low hanging fruit?

Thoughts?

Moz

brunohill
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:36 pm
Delivery Date: 05 Oct 2017
Location: VK3

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:35 am

I don't think there is any low hanging fruit but keep an eye on Brisbane, I would not be too surprised if something comes out of there in the next 12 to 18 months.

mux
Posts: 323
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:52 am
Delivery Date: 13 Oct 2011
Leaf Number: 6177

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:07 am

So I've been critical in the past of the efforts going on in this space, and it seems not too much has changed in the meantime.

First of all, I completely agree that a replacement main battery should be the next obvious step forward to extending the lifespan of these vehicles. Compared to extender batteries, this is much easier to install, does not encroach on usable space in the car and is just the more obvious choice.

However, main battery replacements run into two really big and expensive issues rightaway: homologation and safety. Any new battery will become a direct drivetrain modification, and that is something that in most countries - especially those with a large contingent of Leafs - requires Nissan to agree that the product is safe to use in their car. If it's not homologated, you're driving an uninsurable car. This is not a scalable solution and even if just a tiny proportion of batteries causes issues down the line - that's more harm being done to EVs, sustainability and Leaf owners than good. Worst case, Nissan or national regulators will actively kill the entire aftermarket battery industry. This is something to avoid at all costs.

Safety is also a serious issue; the main drive battery is mounted in the weather and in close proximity to the ground, meaning it needs to have protection against piercing debris, an internal structure that is stiff enough to avoid cells touching in case of impact, etc. This requires quite some simulation and paperwork to be accepted. Even if you reuse the old battery shells.

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And then, let's consider why we're doing this in the first place. The old Nissan batteries - hell, the new ones too - are defective by design. They do not have thermal management and have to some extent underdesigned battery management. Also, older batteries are way too small to be practical as an everyday car. If you're designing a replacement, this has to fix all of these issues. We've seen Renovables del Sur and the Ukrainian guy make replacement Leaf batteries - but with a very narrow focus on just packing as much capacity into the shell as possible - not solving the actual reason we're replacing them in the first place! Moreover, the original BMS and shell are reused without regard to safety and compatibility, which is understandable from a cost and development speed perspective, but an accident waiting to happen if you have experience in the field. To be clear, MUXSAN adheres to the design process known as 'fail fast' - try things out, weed out the failures, learn from them and get to an optimal design faster as a result. But that's not the whole process; you do still need to do proper design. Most efforts to add battery capacity to the Leaf stop considering their design requirements at 'needs more batteries'. Then continues with 'needs to be cheap' and engineers from there.

Because let's face it, the products we design today should and will be used for the life of the car. I see no reason why you can't drive a Leaf for another 10-15 years at least. So these battery replacements should continue to operate to not just today's requirements, but also looking forward to future requirements. People are not going to be happy with a non-thermally managed battery that fails in another 5 years. People are not going to be happy when they're limited to 30ish kW fast charging in 2025. People are not going to be happy having to physically disassemble the pack to troubleshoot it. You need to design for longevity, which means both overdesigning the internal systems to last longer than the original batteries and overdesigning the battery specs to cope with future demands like 150kW+ fast charging and operation in hotter climates.

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Oh, and it also needs to be cheap enough to make sense to current Leaf owners. That really is where you start getting into issues. This year, MUXSAN is hoping to produce at least 5MWh worth of battery packs - enough for about 200 Leaf extender packs. At that kind of battery volume, we're struggling - with a cost-optimized design with less stringent requirements than a main battery replacement - to get below $300/kWh. Just straight development costs - the materials, prototyping, etc. needed to get this working - are about $150k for this product and it will take 1000 extenders before we break even on R&D.

Say you want to properly design a Leaf replacement pack. Homologation is going to require not just any engineering, it's going to require Nissan to take notice and be willing to lend their engineers from Japan to us to do certification. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars in external consulting. They will not allow for large parts of the software to be open source for fear of IP leakage. Then you're going to require certification in at least a few large markets to be able to get to the sales volume you need to offset costs. It's about $25-50k to fully certify our extender batteries in the Netherlands, so let's say it is a similar amount per country - that's another few hundreds of thousands of dollars in certification. Altogether, it's easy to spend a million dollars just on paperwork and external auditing/engineering.

Say you've passed and you can capture a few percent of the used Leaf market - that's at best 5000-10 000 batteries you can sell. What kind of battery? People are going to want something between 40-60kWh, right? Say at this volume you can push sale price to $250/kWh. That's $10k-15k for a battery. Are people going to pay that for a $5k car? Sure, we have plenty of customers willing to spend that kind of money on their old Leaf, but does that customer base scale far enough?

Oh and all of this needs to be done pronto. People are not going to wait another 5 years for this to be done. Half your customer base will be on the scrapyard by then. Again; it's not even an engineering issue. Engineering a battery like this is not that hard. Setting up production, scaling and bankrolling all of this effort in short order is. Making an EV battery is not quite as hard as making an entire EV, but it comes pretty close!

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This is a Very Hard Problem. You've got to move very quickly in a very capital-intensive market, hoping to capture a waning customer base, trying to sell a $10k+ product to thousands of people in dozens of countries. If you do it wrong, regulators are going to swoop in and kill you. For good reason.

And this is why we're still prioritizing the extender battery solution. Obviously we'd like to develop a replacement battery. We might very well do that this year, just to try it out. But I don't expect this to go very far until either we or other companies become large enough and rich enough to bankroll, on relatively short order, a surprisingly/depressingly large undertaking like this. Hey, maybe the real way forward is trying to grow MUXSAN so fast that we're able to be bought out by a large industry player and use their resources to make this happen. It really takes something like that to make this work.

And of course I'm writing this very much from my and my company's perspective, but I think true competition in the field will only work to further legitimize the industry and bring the prospect of third party battery replacements closer. As critical as I am of the efforts so far, from a systems perspective I don't want these companies to stop. The solution here is not to try, fail, then stop. I'm not saying failure is bad, even. But learn from it and create a better product next time.

MozzoAU
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2021 2:51 am
Delivery Date: 23 Mar 2021

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Fri Mar 26, 2021 4:46 am

Thanks Mux for your very well though out reply. Depressing I guess when one thinks through all the competing pressures. Maybe the aftermarket battery business needs to focus wider than just the Nissan Leaf. You are dead right with regards the battery being under-engineered. By comparison to other manufacturers who have come along since Nissan, the leaf battery is particularly inferior.

Maybe a Universal BMS that can be programmed to suit different vehicle can protocols over time and a common battery framework that can be tailored to meet different vehicle chassis requirements is one way to help make it worthwhile developing.

There are a good number of you guys around the world trying to meet the leaf challenges now. I'd encourage any collaboration even if Nissan continue to ignore the interest of the owners.

Moz

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Stanton
Posts: 2369
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:56 am
Delivery Date: 01 Sep 2011
Leaf Number: 7458
Location: Plano, TX
Contact: Website Twitter

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:47 am

I'm about to do a 24kWh->40kWh battery upgrade/swap on my Leaf and will create a separate post documenting it (or at least a link to a blog) when it happens. I have the (salvage) car/battery pack and Dala's CAN-bridge/converter in hand, so it's just a matter of scheduling the big day (which is looking like early April).
2011 Blue Ocean SV w/OVMS
12v LiFePO4 battery w/Antigravity Battery Tracker
FIAMM 74100 horns/Wet Okole seat covers/Tor's heater mod/Dala's CAN-bridge
Lizard Pack (Rev E) installed @51 months/41k miles
40 kWh Pack (Gen2) installed @115 months/85k miles

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SalisburySam
Posts: 385
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:01 am
Delivery Date: 24 Feb 2012
Leaf Number: 018156
Location: Salisbury, NC

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:16 am

Apparently, I've already done a battery swap going from my original 24kwh battery to the new and lowly-regarded 12kwh version. Same battery, I guess the swap was done during some dark COVID-19 quarantine night when I wasn't looking. It's the only thing I can figure out for why my range went from the original 65-70 miles back in 2012 to 30-35 miles today. So confirmation: battery swaps are available indeed!
Nissan 2012 LEAF SL, 13,600 miles, 9 bars, 35-mile range

Tesla Model 3: Long Range Rear Wheel Drive | Extended AutoPilot | Full Self-Driving | HW3 Upgrade
Delivered: July, 2018 | 17,000 miles | PM me for Tesla referral code

alozzy
Posts: 1970
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:25 pm
Delivery Date: 18 Jan 2017
Location: Vancouver, BC
Contact: Website

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Fri Mar 26, 2021 9:45 am

Stanton wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:47 am
I'm about to do a 24kWh->40kWh battery upgrade/swap on my Leaf and will create a separate post documenting it (or at least a link to a blog) when it happens. I have the (salvage) car/battery pack and Dala's CAN-bridge/converter in hand, so it's just a matter of scheduling the big day (which is looking like early April).
How much did the 40 kWh pack cost you?
Vancouver, CA owner of a 2013 Ocean Blue SV + QC, purchased 01/2017 in WA
Zencar 12/20/24/30A L1/L2 portable EVSE
1-1/4" Curt #11396 hitch
After market, DIY LED DRLs
LeafSpy Pro + Konnwei KW902 ELM327 BT OBDII dongle
Loving my first BEV :D

ginetto
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:32 pm
Delivery Date: 17 Sep 2019
Location: Galicia (Spain)

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Fri Mar 26, 2021 10:07 am

In Spain a brand new pack is sold at 7k€ (taxes included)
A mild crashed 40kW entire car (with 91% SOH battery) can be obtained for 12k€ (taxes included)

there are country cheaper than Spain (e.g. Norway or US, but import and duty costs make them comparable)

IMHO the cost is till too high if you consider that similar battery pack with similar chimistry quality but with refrigeration conducts in place are sold for less than the leaf pack (at least observing norway market).... I suppose it's just a offer/demand effect.
alozzy wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 9:45 am
Stanton wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:47 am
I'm about to do a 24kWh->40kWh battery upgrade/swap on my Leaf and will create a separate post documenting it (or at least a link to a blog) when it happens. I have the (salvage) car/battery pack and Dala's CAN-bridge/converter in hand, so it's just a matter of scheduling the big day (which is looking like early April).
How much did the 40 kWh pack cost you?

User avatar
Stanton
Posts: 2369
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:56 am
Delivery Date: 01 Sep 2011
Leaf Number: 7458
Location: Plano, TX
Contact: Website Twitter

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Fri Mar 26, 2021 12:57 pm

ginetto wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 10:07 am
In Spain a brand new pack is sold at 7k€ (taxes included)
A mild crashed 40kW entire car (with 91% SOH battery) can be obtained for 12k€ (taxes included)
I assume that 7kEuro pack is a 24 kWhr...not that you can walk in and buy a battery pack from Nissan (unless you are paying them to replace your existing pack).
2011 Blue Ocean SV w/OVMS
12v LiFePO4 battery w/Antigravity Battery Tracker
FIAMM 74100 horns/Wet Okole seat covers/Tor's heater mod/Dala's CAN-bridge
Lizard Pack (Rev E) installed @51 months/41k miles
40 kWh Pack (Gen2) installed @115 months/85k miles

User avatar
Stanton
Posts: 2369
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:56 am
Delivery Date: 01 Sep 2011
Leaf Number: 7458
Location: Plano, TX
Contact: Website Twitter

Re: Battery Upgrades are very possible

Fri Mar 26, 2021 1:14 pm

alozzy wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 9:45 am
Stanton wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:47 am
I'm about to do a 24kWh->40kWh battery upgrade/swap on my Leaf and will create a separate post documenting it (or at least a link to a blog) when it happens. I have the (salvage) car/battery pack and Dala's CAN-bridge/converter in hand, so it's just a matter of scheduling the big day (which is looking like early April).
How much did the 40 kWh pack cost you?
The whole car cost me $12k (plus fees). So I paid roughly $300 per kWh.
Some additional caveats:
  • I was able to inspect the car in person...which allowed me to "measure" the battery pack...which turned out to be shockingly good...which wasn't a surprise for a 2020 car with ~800 miles on it
  • This will most likely be the last battery pack I ever put in the car (no matter how much it degrades)...and I hope to keep the car another 10 years
  • I have a local shop that will do the pack swap (and they've done one before)...because we all know Nissan won't touch it
Bottom line: I could probably wait another year and not find a (local) battery pack in as good as shape...which justified (slightly) overpaying a bit. Plus, I will recover some of the cost via sale of my existing pack.
2011 Blue Ocean SV w/OVMS
12v LiFePO4 battery w/Antigravity Battery Tracker
FIAMM 74100 horns/Wet Okole seat covers/Tor's heater mod/Dala's CAN-bridge
Lizard Pack (Rev E) installed @51 months/41k miles
40 kWh Pack (Gen2) installed @115 months/85k miles

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