Since unveiling the all-electric Leaf in 2010, Franklin-based Nissan has become not just an automaker, but a fuel supplier. The company is now installing chargers at dealerships and building 600 pound batteries at its Smyrna plant. And it’s figuring out what to do with those batteries at the end of their useful life.
There are now almost 35,000 Leafs on US roads. Their batteries have an eight year/100,000 mile warranty. But Nissan says it wants to give owners piece of mind. Starting next year, they can get a new battery, regardless of how long they’ve had the car.
The cost: $100 a month.
“My immediate response was it was rather pricey,” says Nashville Leaf owner Mark Forester. “It’s like a Christmas Club, or something. Where you’re making a deposit every month, so when the time comes you’ll have it. But I’m not sure if it’s a program I’d want to participate in.”
Forester bought his Leaf in 2011. He says the battery is in top shape and he expects it to last until the warranty expires six years from now.
Some Leaf owners say they’d rather buy a new battery outright. So far, Nissan hasn’t said if they’ll sell directly to owners, or what one of those batteries might cost.
Nissan is also figuring out what to do with batteries that still have a charge, but not enough to power a car. In Japan, the company is exploring recycling old Leaf batteries into backup power sources for homes and businesses.