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Tesla, Nissan Alleviate Some Concerns about Batteries in Their EVs

6/24/2013
Addressing concerns of electric vehicle (EV) owners and prospective buyers or lessees about range anxiety, speed, flexibility and ease of operation, both high-end Tesla Motors, maker of the Model S luxury electric car, and Nissan Motor, maker of the Leaf compact EV, last week announced programs to alleviate some worries about both battery charging and battery replacement in the U.S. market.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced on Thursday, June 20, at the automaker's design studio in Hawthorne, CA, that the new Model S features a design to let a driver on a trip swap out a spent battery for a fully charged replacement for about the same cost as a tank of gas and in less time than it takes to fill up a conventional vehicle's tank.

Model S drivers will have a choice to use the new rapid charging stations that Tesla is installing across the country to repower their battery, or a driver can pull up to a battery swap lane at a charging station. Housed in the pit in the ground from which technicians would typically perform an oil change on a vehicle, a mechanical system automatically unfastens and removes the current battery in the car's floor and installs a new one. The entire process of switching batteries takes as little as 90 seconds to finish and the driver doesn't even have to get out of the Model S.

Tesla figures that it's most likely that a driver who wants the convenience of swapping out their battery quickly on a road trip will again pull into a super charging station on the return trip and pay a fee to get the car's previous battery reinstalled--now fully charged--or have an entirely new one put in the car. There will be fees set up for the battery swapping. So far, Tesla plans to start installing these stations in the busiest regional traffic areas of Los Angeles to San Francisco and Boston to New York. Stay tuned for further news about a time frame for these battery swapping lanes.

Nissan to Initiate New Leaf EV Battery Assurance Program
Nissan Motor is also making efforts to reassure and satisfy its U.S. Leaf EV customers by announcing a battery replacement program that starts in the first half of 2014. The program will work jointly with Nissan's standard battery warranty for the compact Leaf that features a 5-year/60,000-mile coverage against battery capacity loss (below approximately 70%) and offers 8 years/100,000 miles coverage against defects.

Nissan's director of EV sales and marketing states that a majority of current Leaf drivers will never need this battery replacement option, but says the program is to provide owners with peace of mind and assurance that the battery will maintain its capacity at a certain level.

Nissan says it will replace the car's battery with a new or remanufactured battery to restore capacity at or above a minimum of 9 bars, much like the existing expanded battery capacity warranty. The Nissan Leaf battery replacement program pricing will be similar to one used in Europe and will cost about $100 per month.

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