I see a few questions above since my last post, I'll try to address them here.
First, I think it's important to distinguish what we're doing from a Lease. We get a lot of lease comments, so it's worth repeating for clarity.
There are essentially two components to what will go into the LEAF, and a remote management system: The battery case/chassis and support systems, and what we're currently calling battery modules. The first manages the electrical and communication connectivity to the vehicle, along with the cooling portion of our thermal management. The second is a self-contained energy storage device, more than simply cells or cells and a BMS, there are additional systems and intelligence in it as well. And the remote management allows us to offload the predictive intelligence of our service with a combination of lifecycle data and AI that will be able to identify degradation concerns before it's apparent to the customer. It is because of this pairing of in-vehicle and remote that separates us from a traditional lease. For example, if you leased your Leaf, neither Nissan nor the dealer will monitor your washer fluid, wipers, tires, or any other wear item, notify you when they're near replacement, and replace them without cost to you under the terms of your lease. We're essentially doing that for your battery, other than the subscription, there's no additional cost to you, indefinitely.
Ok, on to the questions:
Does the lease essentially include servicing of the battery throughout its life to ensure its capacity is always near 100%? If so, that is where the value is. Comparing the cost of a lease vs. replacement every 7 years is not very favorable, but if you add in the fact that you won't have any reduction in range it becomes much more attractive.
Yes, that's exactly right. As mentioned by others, there's no such thing as a cell that doesn't degrade, so between service events, there will be some minor loss, but we expect that it will never exceed a single bar on the GOM. And for most customers, they'll never see even that one bar, I'll address thresholds in another answer below
For instance, if we wanted to offer 40kWh packs and can't alter an older Leaf to support 40kWh packs, there would be three options:
1) Restrict installation to 24 kWh packs, citing technical difficulties
2) Install 40 kWh pack and only use 24 kWh of capacity
3) Install 40 kWh pack, utilizing the full capacity by having the battery controller lie about the capacity and remaining charge. Sure, the GOM and charge time estimates would be wrong, but I'd be happy knowing that I could just nearly double whatever the car reports as miles left. Dealing with that would be preferable to having half the range.
Essentially that is similar to our launch plan, except for #3. The support case/systems will be built and designed for the highest number of modules/capacity that will fit into the existing battery location in the LEAF. If we are still working on the upgrade at launch, a 24kWh car will only have 24kWh of modules installed, with room for more. If by launch, or after launch we have the expansion solution ready, the customer will be able to choose their capacity based upon their budget, for example, a customer may choose 26kWh, and their monthly cost will reflect this capacity. This is why our pricing for the LEAF is "under $99", customers will have flexibility here. A budget minded, low-use customer might even consider a 20kWh subscription, though I have yet to hear anyone specifically ask for that.
We've had quite a few people ask for more range and not care about what the GOM says in order to get it. Simply for quality and brand reasons, we'd like to avoid putting out a product that didn't work correctly with the car. We are considering a half-step that provides the customer with a 2nd display that reflects the pack status accurately, either as a mounted display in the car or via an App or similar on a phone/tablet. But a little soon to commit to that just yet.
@mux Licensing opportunity for your CANbus invention? It seems likely that one of the technical challenges they need to overcome is to spoof the BMS...
We are absolutely interested in speaking to and working with companies and individuals that have done work in this space, and if a licensing arrangement makes sense for both parties, we would love to talk. People involved in such should reach out to us directly at email@example.com
I appreciate that you have a lot on your plate just engineering this for the LEAF, but what other cars might be on your roadmap? Might third-party EV service providers be able to install your modules into other vehicles or even conversions at some point down the line?
P.S. I like the concept quite a bit, however I think that being able to provide bigger than standard packs is going to be a necessary feature for ultimate success. The optics of paying $100 an month to keep a $6000/80mi range car on the road is tough, but give it 100-120mi range and it becomes much more palatable.
The sales volume of the vehicle will drive our roadmap fairly heavily, which explains why we're starting with LEAF, but yes the goal is to eventually expand to any EV that's past warranty. And yes, we are going to be offering both the support systems and hardware, and the modules "Ala Carte" eventually to EV businesses and custom vehicle builders. We're also targeting these existing EV shops as install/service partners, so they will have multiple revenue paths with Fenix.
Remember the $100 a month ($99) is based on 30kWh, the 80 mile range car you speak of will be less expensive monthly. The monthly charge will be per module, and will translate directly to per kWh.
The primary questions quite naturally center around the specs, especially capacity and cycle life and of course, how they are warranted. Oddly, these are the questions that Fenix won't answer. I don't care why. Until they're answered all else is a waste of time. Anyone can make a web site and talk about "severing the cost of the battery, blah blah blah". What and where is the THING you are trying to sell me?
We completely understand this frustration. We're trying to answer as much as we currently can, may I suggest that you simply keep us in mind and take another look when we do release the specifications and information you're looking for? Expect them all to be revealed by Spring of 2019, if we can sooner, we'll do so.
Batteries degrade regardless of the business model. In addition to capacity over time, we now need to know the details of the replacement criteria. If the threshold is "a few percent" the endeavor is doomed; that's far too much remaining capacity to justify labor and materials.
We have quite a few metrics that will determine if a replacement is warranted, which go beyond just electrical capacity. For example, excess thermal stress recorded may have us replace every module in the customer's vehicle. This may help understand the cost mitigation of labor/materials: There will be several thresholds for replacement, A few examples: A module has had an event that requires it to be replaced immediately, a module has reached a must-replace threshold but is still serviceable, and a module may be nearing replacement but is still performing. The first one will require an immediate, previously unscheduled service. The second the customer will be notified and can schedule at their convenience, and the third will not schedule a service but will be replaced at the next service event triggered by other modules. But if a percent number is what you're looking for in this answer, we don't expect the pack as a whole to ever get to 5% loss, and will likely at most get to 3-4%.
I hope I've addressed the above questions reasonably well for everyone. Happy to answer more if there are others.