Gothenburg, Sweden — Data from Nissan Motor Corp. shows the batteries used by its Leaf electric car will outlast the vehicle by 10-12 years, said Francisco Carranza, managing director of Renault-Nissan Energy Services.
So a question facing the automaker is what it should do with those batteries once the car is no longer in service.
Nissan monitors everything from charging patterns to battery degradation on the more than 400,000 Leafs it has sold in Europe since launching the first generation in 2011.
Based on the average life of a car at 10 years, Carranza put the battery life at 22 years. "We are going to have to recover those batteries," Carranza told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Gothenburg May 22.
Nissan has been looking at ways to boost revenue from electric cars for itself and its customers as traditional revenue streams dry up in the switch from combustion cars to electric cars.
"Aftersales revenue will massively suffer from electrification," Carranza said.
Nissan has a number of projects to use its batteries, either new or used in applications outside of the car. Last year a three-megawatt storage system using the equivalent of 148 Leaf batteries, both new and used, was opened at Amsterdam's ArenA soccer stadium aimed at providing a more reliable and efficient energy supply and usage.
Nissan also offers solar panels and battery storage for homes, similar to a program marketed by Tesla, under the Nissan Energy Solar brand. Solar panels and battery storage cost from 7,635 pounds ($9,700) in the United Kingdom. The system is controlled via an app.
"We are stepping away from the garage and closer to the living room," Carranza said.
Nissan is trialing ways that its electric cars can be used to balance supply and demand at peak times by storing energy and then returning it to the grid during times the car is not being used. A pilot project in Denmark run with Italian energy company Enel showed owners could earn up to 1,300 euros ($1,454) by this method, Nissan said.
The Leaf is certified as an energy plant in Germany, Denmark and the U.K. This allows it to be connected to the grid in the same way more traditional powerplants. "It's working even better than we anticipated selling back to grid," Carranza said. "The more you dig, the more you find gold. The amount of revenue and profit by using vehicles to provide services to the grid is big."
Owners who signed up for the program are getting used to the fact that energy levels might be depleted. "That is why we have investing so much money in the past years testing customer expectations. If you get money you know you have to do something to earn it," Carranza said.