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Nissan Director "Thinks" EVs Don't Need Bigger Batteries, Leaf Has Enough


An article I read today showed that recently Nissan started thinking big batteries aren’t necessary for EVs. They claim to have studied extensive data before claiming what seems to be one of the stupidest claims since the one saying “you won’t ever need more than 64 kilobytes of RAM in a computer” (in the 80’s, of course).

Mark Perry, director of product planning and strategy for Nissan North America, told AutoObserver that the 7,500 Leaf’s around the U.S. averaged 37 miles per day, with the typical trip length of only 7 miles. Moreover, most of them didn’t even top off at the end of the day.

The exact patterns Perry described were saying that 72 percent of American drivers do less than 40 miles a day and 95 percent less than 100 miles a day. Period.

Now let’s apply a little psychology and common sense here, and less pipe dreaming/marketing claims. First of all, I’m not at all against electric cars, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog. There’s only one question you need to ask yourself, and that is:

Who buys Nissan Leafs?

…or generally, EVs? Are the people behind these cars’ steering wheel the real motorists, or at least over 50 percent of them? No. The ones driving the Leaf are the ones who bought it. The ones who bought Leafs are probably not retarded homeless crack addicts, and fall into the above-average class of society.

In other words, they thought well before doing the purchase and knew their driving habits. Of course they overestimated their driving ranges a little bit, maybe unconsciously, to self-motivate the need of spending tens of thousands of dollars, but none of them may not have traded their gasoline-powered darling for the Leaf – right, they kept it in a garage – just in case.

According to Wikipedia, there were 255,917,664 cars in the U.S. in 2008. Three years from then, the number is pretty close to that figure, if not a bit higher. Perry refers to having polled the 7,500 Leafs sold in the U.S. so far. Just think about that.

What Perry says is nothing bad for the current EV market, nor for the current average EV user. I indeed do less than 50 miles a day of driving, but that’s because I work at home and moved closer to the town center (paying more for the rent). I would have driven more if I lived in a suburbia. Though what Perry basically says is that the EV industry doesn’t need bigger batteries like mad, current ones are good for most of its buyers, which is true.

What’s not true and good for the EV industry is that by limiting the Leaf, for example, to only a hundred miles of autonomy, you automatically determine the vast majority to discard it. Not only that, but they’ll also say it’s an expensive piece of equipment, a gadget not worth its money.

Conclusion: we need bigger batteries. Not all of us, but there have to be batteries that charge as fast as a gas pump fuels an empty tank, just to keep pace with peoples’ needs. We can’t just tell them to back off from their regular habits and buy the more expensive electric cars, because they won’t! And that’s common sense. Perry and the like adopting this idea will surely put the EV market on its knees even before it got the change of truly affirming itself.

You can find the article I was talking about here.

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  1. First and foremost I’m a LEAF owner, but no fan-boy.

    I do take exception to Nissan using LEAF driver habits as evidence that Americans don’t drive that far, clearly those who bought one don’t do the kind of mileage the car isn’t capable of doing. I knew the car could do the 30 mile round trip to work each day, even in the freezing cold and with a 10 year old battery. The studies should be US averages, not LEAF averages.

    I do agree with Nissan, we don’t need bigger batteries, however we do need batteries with more range. Physical size is not relevant, the technology needs to give us more miles with the same weight of battery pack. I’d pay more for an extra 50 miles of range, then instead of meeting 99% of my vehicle needs it would meet almost 100% of my needs.

    BTW I did sell my previous ICE vehicle, doesn’t make sense to pay two lots of insurance and road tax. My wife’s Altima is a backup for journeys which are out of range for the LEAF. In the first 3 months of ownership, only 5 journeys have needed to be in the Altima. With 50 miles more range, all of those 5 journeys could have been done in the LEAF.


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