Nissan Prices Leaf Battery Replacement at $5,500

Just the Facts:
  • Nissan says a replacement battery for older Leaf EVs with diminished range will cost $5,499 plus installation.
  • The replacement battery is the same one used in 2015 models, and will boost maximum range per charge to about 84 miles, according to EPA estimates.
  • Battery replacement in 2011 and 2012 models also requires a $225 adapter kit.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Nissan Motor Co., which last year was roundly booed by Leaf customers when it offered to lease replacement batteries for the electric car for $100 a month, says it now will sell a replacement pack.

The new 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is the same one used in 2015 Leaf models and will cost $5,499 plus tax, installation and the $1,000 value of the car's original battery pack, which must be surrendered to Nissan for recycling as part of the swap.

The new battery would boost the maximum EPA-estimated range of a 2011 or 2012 Leaf to 84 miles from the original battery pack's rated range of 73 miles.

The company says dealers will set their own prices, and estimates it will take three hours of labor to replace a pack. So figure about $6,000 for the whole enchilada — $7,000 if you want to count the Nissan-set value of the old battery.

Nissan doesn't expect many replacement batteries to be sold, but made the announcement to quiet critics — mainly Leaf drivers — who didn't like last year's offer to lease replacement batteries because it would leave them without a battery when it came time to sell or trade in the car. A new buyer would have to accept responsibility for continuing the lease.

The program is part of Nissan's "commitment to deliver peace of mind for our continually growing community of Leaf drivers," said Erik Gottfried, Nissan's EV sales and marketing director.

Under the sales plan, customers can buy the replacement outright or finance them for about $100 a month — a final figure hasn't been set. That's the same as the old lease price, but the customer would own the battery at the end of the deal.

Battery replacements aren't common. Most early Leaf owners have seen their cars lose no more than 10 percent or so of battery capacity so far. But it has been an issue for Leaf owners in very hot climates, such as Arizona. And it will become more of an issue as early buyers pile more and more miles on their cars.

The lithium-ion batteries used in the Leaf and other EVs diminish in capacity over time as they are continually drained and recharged. The cycle degrades the battery's capacity to store and release energy.

Nissan's basic warranty anticipates 30 percent reduction in the Leaf battery's capacity over the first five years or 60,000 miles of use. The company began selling Leafs at the end of 2010, so none have hit that eight-year mark yet.

At 12,000 miles a year and an average cost of electricity at 12 cents per kilowatt, the typical Leaf's fuel savings over five years — versus a 30 mpg gasoline vehicle with gas at $3.75 a gallon — would cover almost all of the cost of a battery replacement.

Edmunds says: It ain't cheap, but it's not the $10,000 or more many have worried a 24-kWh lithium-ion battery pack replacement might run. And it beats having a car that won't go anywhere.