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Electric Vehicles (EVs)

It is not the time yet for "I told you so's," but the 2017 debate on these pages (see 'Electric Cars' in the index is worth re-visiting in the light of the alarming information contained in the cover story of the NZ Listener dated 31 March.

My colleague Denis Tegg's spirited defence of EV battery life in the debate has now been called into question through this article, though it is by no means the be-all, and end-all on the subject. 

The rapid deterioration of Leaf (at 300,000 World-wide - by far the biggest seller) batteries in particular was the major issue that I and others were trying to get across in 2017 - not Teslas, BMW and Volkswagon that appear to have an entirely different deterioration curve, but which come at vastly greater expense.

It is the higher capacity (30kWh) Nissan Leaf which is the major concern because of much greater drop-off in performance, and which now alone comprise 12% of the entire fleet. Their much lower 'import' cost may be attraction, but the fact that neither the 24kWh or the 30kWh vehicles are supported, or distributed new by the Nissan importer at this stage says something about their confidence in the vehicle.

A new 30kWh battery and installation costs $9,000 in Japan. Translated here, this could well become a 'killer' in the marketplace, and leave hundreds of new/used vehicles high and dry in the years ahead and cause a major worry for the Government's 64,000 EV vehicle target by 2021.

I drove a 30kWh leaf in Wellington last week encouraged by its enthusiastic owner, but he was unusually silent on the battery performance side of things - he paid $29,000 for a 15km vehicle in great condition, but I was left skeptical about the battery having observed lithium batter performance and over-heating in my five Kindles - not comparable I know, but a warning to be careful before jumping in 'boots and all.'

This Nissan thing may just be a hiccup, and other models come on the market at a comparable price, but I cannot see that happening in the immediate, or even forseeable future. And together with the strain on the power grid at "tipping-point" as reflected in another article by Rebecca Macfie in the same Listener, another warning. Universal peak charging systems will become necessary sooner rather than later.

I remain to be convinced - certainly at the Leaf 'price point.'




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