2nd gen Leaf expected 2018: 60kWh NMC battery, 300 mile range, autonomous, CFRP

2ndgen LEAF - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

2nd gen Leaf will look something like this

Last Friday, a small, hand-picked group of journalists was allowed into Nissan’s holy technology grail, the Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi, a town in the mountains southwest of Tokyo. It was the first time that the secretive center opened its doors to nosy outside observers. Ostensibly, the occasion was the Nissan IDS Concept vehicle that goes on display today at the Tokyo Motor Show. Of course, nobody in his right mind allows journalists into a high-security tech center for a day, just to show off a silly concept car, and it quickly became clear that what we saw was the future Nissan LEAF in drag. It is a fair guess that large parts of the IDS Concept will be seen again when the 2nd generation Leaf arrives. Based on what we saw last Friday, here are a few educated predictions of what that new Leaf will look like.

60 kWh battery explained - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Reporters hear about the new battery

75 percent of current Leaf owners will buy the car again, we heard on Friday. The 25 percent who won’t, will divorce the car due to range, charging time, and infrastructure. Nissan is determined to eliminate these irreconcilable differences.

The 60 kWh battery

The 60 kWh battery

The IDS comes with the new breakthrough range-doubling battery you have read about first in Dailykanban. The battery does not simply double the capacity of the current 24kWh battery to 48kWh, as widely speculated. It doubles the capacity of the 30kWh battery, introduced in the new Leaf that will go on sale by the end of the year, to as whopping 60kWh, and it will do so in the current package-size. Expect this battery to be the core of the 2nd gen Leaf that will succeed the new model in a few years.

The new battery uses Nickel-Mangan-Cobalt chemistry on the cathode side, and a graphite anode. This seems to be based on the Argonne patent that was also licensed by GM and various other players. The battery consists of multiple cell modules in a high density stack. The battery we saw on Friday had 288 cells. Expect this to be the battery of the 2nd gen leaf.

Looks like more than 500 km

Looks like more than 500 km

No exact range was given for the IDS/2nd gen Leaf, but expect it to exceed 500km / 320 miles according to the Japanese JC08 standard. Look at the slide I surreptitiously snapped during the presentation. It was said that with the new 2015 30kWh battery and its 280 km range, about 80 percent of the possible use cases can be covered. Then, we heard that the new battery would cover the complete panoply of uses cases, which went all the way to 500km. The slide, along with the 60 kWh battery, speaks for itself.

Charging time

Charging time

The new battery has a drastically reduced resistance, which improves charging time, we were told. Use the surreptitiously snapped slide for clues.

The supplier of the new battery was treated as a state secret last Friday. While I was working the Renault/Nissan Alliance dinner on Tueday night, a leading Alliance engineer told me that the battery will be built “by us and LG Chem.” Then, two alarmed handlers stopped the discussion.

No sensoric deprivation here

No sensoric deprivation here

The IDS/2nd gen Leaf is heavy with autonomous tech. By 2018, we expect this technology to allow truly autonomous operation on highways. By 2020, it is expected to master the holy grail of autonomous drive, hands-fee operation in city traffic. The AI package learns the driving style of the owner – within legal limits, we were assured.

The sensoric acuity of the IDS and most likely that of the 2nd gen Leaf, exceeds that of humans, we heard last Friday. The sensor array consists of a forward-looking long range RADAR, combined with a bunch of laser scanners and video cameras, providing the car overlapping 360 degree vision. Again, no specs were released, but from the slide smuggled out of the research building, it looks like the new Leaf will have a much, much better robotic vision than the half-blind Tesla autopilot.

Yashuihro Tosaka explains carbon fiber in future Leaf

Yashuihro Tosaka explains carbon fiber in future Leaf

The IDS was said to have a 100 percent carbon fiber (CFRP) body for rigidity and weight savings. A lot of time was spent on Friday to explain a new, thin, zero-blindspot A–pillar that is only possible using CFRP technology. We expect the 2nd gen Leaf to have at least a few significant elements made from CFRP, probably from the tub upwards, including the roof, and that super-thin A-pillar.

New (front) and old (back) A-pillar

New (front) and old (back) A-pillar

No date was given for the 2nd gen Leaf, but expect it to arrive some time in 2018. During Friday’s visit in Atsugi, 2018 was way too frequently mentioned to be accidental.

I expect to learn more during and after the Tokyo Motor show, and I will keep you apprised.

 

P.S.: I smuggled a pack of material out of the building. Please help and read yourself

Pictures :

Side coil unit
High density stack
60kWh battery 1
60kWh battery 2

60kWh battery 3

Prototype rear, system
Prototype rear
Internal
Front system
Front

Slides:

CFRP
Battery
Aerodynamics