I’m beginning to wonder how desirable a non-warranty replacement battery will actually be for a 2011-2012-early2013 LEAF. I’ve signed up with Fenix Power for a battery replacement/subscription if/when their product becomes viable, but there has been little progress and the latest news on their website is dated October 2018. At some point as an original 2012 owner, I’m probably going to say the vehicle just isn’t worth the cost regardless of how much I like the car. Even with a new 24kwhr battery, I’ll still only get 70+ miles, far better financially to get a 2015 at the same price or so for the around-town runabout. But I really, really like my electronic parking brake so what do I do?
As time passes, I think my better options are to either keep the car as is until it just dies, or take whatever Carvana or other dealer will give me as a trade...I think a private sale could happen but not likely with far better options available. Even Tesla will generally meet a Carmax offer on a trade.
At this point, I’m pretty bummed about the LEAF. It was such an amazing experience in early 2012 with decent commuter abilities, solid comfort, and low maintenance requirements. As time and battery depreciation rapidly happened but not rapidly enough to take advantage of the capacity warranty, the vehicle became less and less amazing. Then in 2018 a spark of hope with 3rd parties making waves about alternate battery options. And as the time continues without a real delivered solution, disappointment creeps back in.
So after all this introspection, I have a few outcomes:
1- the EV is only recently and only with some EVs an ICE replacement vehicle. I’m thrilled that I can own a Tesla Model 3 which did indeed replace an ICE for me.
2- my LEAF ownership gave me insights into a far better (at least for me) way of driving, with different expectations and greater awareness of just how hard any massive conversion to EVs will really be. It also showed me that just because you are manufacturing an EV doesn’t remotely mean you can design a navigation system.
3- I fault Nissan for not providing any sort of capacity warranty with the interim exception of the 5-year one for early LEAFs. Many ICE vehicles have a 100,000-mile or better powertrain warranty and the battery IS the powertrain engine-equivalent in an EV.
4- I feel Tesla has done a bit of a disservice in focusing more on their self-driving technology and less on the pure goodness of being an outstanding electric car. With their superior range and minimal capacity degradation, that’s a wonderful story to tell, and the technology stuff is just add on. My Model 3 is in every way the very best most exciting car I’ve owned or driven, even without the tech tricks.
5- traditional ICE manufacturer’s dealerships really do not want to deal with EVs. We’ve had not a single Bolt come through locally since they’ve been in production, and the number of local Volts is very very small and now of course discontinued. Want an iPace? Good luck, and either order it or go to Atlanta. Want an eTron? Pretty much the same. Same for the other EVs. The wave of buyers seeing the light and migrating in droves to EVs in only a couple of years (from 2012) just did not happen. The Model 3 is the first spike in EV ownership, and I hope it continues to stimulate EVs as I think will. Rivian is an unknown potential with its $0.5billion investment from Ford but could be incredible. Or not.
6- maybe the biggest bang for the buck will be in commercial fleets with the Tesla Semi. So many trucking carriers and companies have these on order (each requiring a $50,000 deposit) primarily for reduced operating costs that trucking may just be the real growth arena for EVs. I hope so. Individual EV car sales are still a small portion of overall, and electric busses are almost a rounding error with very very slow growth.
Back to the topic, I question the viability of a battery replacement at almost any cost above a few thousand dollars for a 2011-2013 vintage car. Just doesn’t seem to work.
2012 Nissan LEAF SL, 17,000 miles, 8 bars, 30-mile range
2018 Tesla Model 3 LR RWD
2023 Hyundai Ioniq5 AWD Limited