2016 Nissan LEAF

Confirmed: 30 kWh Nissan LEAF Battery Packs Incompatible With Older Nissan LEAFs

Yesterday morning, Nissan confirmed long-running rumors that suggested the 2016 Nissan LEAF SL and SV electric cars would go on sale with a larger-capacity battery pack to extend the real-world EPA-approved range of the popular family hatchback to 107 miles per charge.

All 2016 Nissan LEAF SV and SL models come with an expanded 30 kWh battery pack.

All 2016 Nissan LEAF SV and SL models come with an expanded 30 kWh battery pack.

Fitted with the latest lithium-ion battery cell technology, the new 30 kilowatt-hour battery packs are physically the same size as the 24 kilowatt-hour battery packs found in previous model year LEAFs and the entry-level 2015 Nissan LEAF S. While 46 pounds heavier in weight, the larger packs require no special modification to the LEAF’s six-year old body design in order to accommodate them.

This lead us to theorize that owners of the 2011 through 2015 Nissan LEAF models might be able to purchase a new 30 kWh battery upgrade for their electric cars in much the same way that Nissan has allowed owners early-model LEAFs to upgrade their car’s battery pack to the latest-generation, more robust 24 kWh packs under Nissan’s official battery replacement program.

But while the physical exterior pack dimensions of the new 30 kWh LEAF battery packs are identical to the battery packs found in every LEAF that has rolled off the production line since late 2010, internal differences in the way the packs are wired and connected to the car means that a 30 kWh upgrade path for existing cars isn’t possible.

Existing owners wont be able to upgrade to the 30 kWh pack, says Nissan.

Existing owners won’t be able to upgrade to the 30 kWh pack, says Nissan.


From the technical specifications provided by Nissan when it announced the 2016 Nissan LEAF, we’re able to piece together what those differences are.

While both the new 30 kWh pack and old 24 kWh pack have contain 192 individual cells for a total nominal battery voltage of 360 volts, the old pack is made up of a string of forty-eight modules, each containing four cells per module. The new 30 kWh pack contains twenty-four modules, each containing eight cells per module.

While that gives the same nominal voltage as the old pack, we’d guess the way in which the on-board battery management system manages and monitors individual cells and modules is different, meaning that a new power management unit is required for the 30 kWh battery pack.

For new vehicles rolling off the production line, that change is fairly simple to make. But in order to use the 30 kWh pack in an older Nissan LEAF that originally shipped with a 24 kWh pack, we’d guess multiple components in addition to the battery pack would need to be replaced.

That would be a costly and somewhat complex process.

We should reiterate at this point that what we’ve just said is our own theory, based on what we know of the 2011-2015 Nissan LEAF family and what we’ve learned about the new 30 kWh Nissan LEAf battery pack from Nissan’s own technical briefing material. We haven’t been able to confirm that theory with Nissan.

The new battery packs are physically the same size as the old ones -- but are differently wired.

The new battery packs are physically the same size as the old ones — but are differently wired.

Because the technical requirements are not the same, the 30 kWh cannot be used to replace a 24 kWh battery,” Nissan said in response to our query about theoretically fitting a 30 kWh battery to an older 24 kWh Nissan LEAF. 

This doesn’t mean Nissan intends to keep current owners out in the cold however. Nissan will continue to offer its existing battery replacement program for owners of 2011 through 2015 Nissan LEAFs, allowing customers to either lease or purchase a brand-new 24 kWh battery pack for their cars, depending on where they live in the world.

Those battery packs, while still limited to 24 kWh in capacity, will be built using the latest generation of lithium-ion cell chemistry, but won’t feature the extra capacity.

In addition to answering our question about replacement battery packs for existing owners, Nissan also clarified that the all-new NissanConnect EV telematics which will debut on the 2016 Nissan LEAF SV and SL will replace Carwings as Nissan’s default telematics system.

“Existing CARWINGS users will have the opportunity to transition to the NissanConnect EV system,” we were told. “They should receive communications shortly.”

It’s not clear what functionality will be available to existing Carwings customers who transition to the new telematics, but we’d guess doing so will equate to a new mobile phone app and improved website functionality. As existing Carwings users will know, that should be a welcome upgrade after struggling with the buggy, unreliable carwings system LEAF owners have been using for the past five years.


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  • Great insights into the differences.

    This also means a downgrade from 30 kWh to 24 kWh is not possible. (eg: someone happy with 24 kWh, but wants leather seats) Not a likely scenario, but it means 2016’s can make use of a 24 kWh pack (for whatever reason).

    BTW: This likely means popular energy management apps like LEAFSpy will not be initially compatible with 2016 SV/SL.

    • DaveinOlyWA

      LEAF Spy is only a reader. not completely sure what compatibility issues would be seen unless they completely reprogrammed the code

      • jeffsongster

        I’d guess that has more to do with the way the modules are configured in the pack. Sad to hear that there is no retrofit available… Probably requires updating wiring harnesses or flashing new controller roms or something that service departments might choke on.

        Either way the 2015 batteries are somewhat better than the 2013-14 batteries which are somewhat improved over the 2011-12. Gary Gid seemed surprised when he tested the gids in my new 15… higher than average is what I think he said… so for 2011-12 owners that would still be a nice improvement. Yesterday in the 2015 with 7000 miles on it, I did 60 miles of mixed city and highway driving (55mph) and still had 37 available. Admittedly not 107 EPA but better than the originals.

  • DaveinOlyWA

    Would have been shocked to hear Nissan say anything else so we shall see how “impossible” this upgrade will be. I am surprised to hear that both packs run at the same voltage? This is unexpected

  • dm33

    Sounds like different software is required. So far no evidence that different hardware is required. Auto makers don’t want to update old software. Look at GMs refusal to include hold mode in older Volts.

    • Jun

      You do need a higher capacity hardware to manage the new 30kw battery in the new configuration. At that point, the bill of materials + labor to install them will be pretty substantial. Say, setting a reasonable at-cost price to such upgrade would be over $15k for sure, due to extensive re-wiring and various module replacements you would have to do. At that point, Nissan may be seen as greedy or overpriced – so from PR perspective they may be better off not doing it. Anything is possible if you got a pile of cash, like, putting GT-R powertrain in a Juke. You CAN do that. But, if it makes fiscal and PR sense to general audience is a whole another story.

      • dm33

        No reason so far to think different hardware is required. Just charge for longer time with same capacity hardware. Charger is not higher capacity in 2016 LEAF. No rewiring. No change in electronics.
        I think they just don’t want to update the older software to understand about a bigger battery. Typical appliance mentality. You bought it you’re stuck with it. Want something better, buy a new product, no matter how easy a software upgrade it may be.
        Tesla has a different mindset. They may charge for the privilege but at least they’re willing to update software to add function.

        • Jun

          Good example I can show you with Tesla, is the addition of Ludicrous Mode upgrade for P85D’s. It is a $10,000 upgrade, and if you look at what they are physically having to replace to do that – you might see that Nissan’s case may not be drop-in compatible either. Add to that, that Nissan customers tend to be more price-sensitive than Tesla customers and you get the electrical engineering reality as well as business reality.

          • dm33

            Not a good example. Ludicrous mode is NOT just software. It’s making the car go insanely fast. Requires space age metal to allow incredible current to flow from the battery.

            Nissan having a bigger battery does NOT require any hardware change. The car doesn’t go any faster. It’s like putting higher capacity alkaline in your radio. The radio doesn’t care. The only reason why the LEAF cares is because it has to know how to properly charge the battery to not overcharge etc. The current software assumes a certain capacity.

          • JD

            Um false the ludicrous mode is a software upgrade only as long as you have a P model which of course so the only model you can get ludicrous mode on.

          • dm33

            Um false back at ya. Do you have a link showing its just software. When announced, ludicrous required a modification of the connector to the battery with a funky space age of rare earth metal to handle the ludicrous amount of current required.

          • JD

            No it didn’t, the only requirement for ludicrous mode is the higher output motor on the rear and software updates. The smart fuse you refer to was added for insane mode which came out before ludicrous speed and is avilable on all performance models, ludicrous however is added option which only increases 0-60 by 0.4 seconds.

          • dm33

            Did you bother to read the link I posted? Its one of many which clearly state the hardware change was required for ludicrous mode. You have provided no evidence to support your assertion. You may be confusing ludicrous and insane modes.

  • Greener

    As a 2012 SL LEAF owner, no retrofit of new 30 kWh pack has pushed me further, to never invest in a Nissan product ever again. As if the reduced regen bug after the last P3227 software update was not enough injury, which is still waiting to be corrected, if Nissan ever takes the initiative. Tesla Model 3 is becoming more and more likely my next vehicle.

    • Anthony

      What’s the deal with the bug? I noticed this but haven’t done any research into it.

      • Greener

        In the summer of 2013 Nissan’s Andy Palmer announced a software update for 2011-2012 LEAFs that would supposedly bring 2013 LEAF improvements to 2011-2012. Andy Palmer’s announcement was published on mynissanleaf forum which explained all the changes in the software update P3227.

        What they did not mention was that the software reduced regen I almost all conditions and more so during cold weather and high SOC. In winter there is almost no regen at all.

        Immediately after the update 2011-2012 LEAF owners began

        • Anthony

          Any possibility of reverting back to the old version through the dealer?

          • Greener

            A fellow LEAF owner has an identical LEAF about 30 miles away. He actually went to the dealer twice in 2013 to get the software update but he was sent back because they were missing something.

            He ended up never getting it done. He has accumulated some 6,000 miles more than me and he lost his first capacity bar at 30,000 miles. I lost mine at 24,000 miles. He still enjoys that original regen.

            It could be possible to clone his software and copy it onto upgraded LEAFs (thereby downgrading it), but we would need an experienced automobile software person to achieve this.

            Nissan will most likely never allow a software downgrade. They installed pieces in the upgrade that supposedly falsify capacity degeneration numbers to prevent battery warranty claims, as per MNL threads.

  • Tim Egger

    Just read on twitter that in Norway the LEAF has a avtive battery management due to extreme wheather conditions. Does any one have any specs on that?

  • JR250

    I am reading this right? The claim is that the two battery packs are incompatible because they have different battery management systems. Are we to believe that the BMS is somehow in the car and not within the battery pack itself?

    From way over here, it seems Nissan didn’t put much effort into this and I suspect an ulterior motive behind it. The packs could have been rewired internally to have the same ports in both cases. If the 30kW/h pack has half the modules as the older one, they could have filled the missing gauges/ports with data from modules next to it, ie: 1 module in new pack mirrors data for 2 modules in old one. Software changes could have accounted for any display, ODB2 or other minor reporting, if needed.

    I think it’s totally lame of Nissan to not have worked this out. It’s not like it’s a radical improvement over the old one that would make it entirely incompatible. These are the little things that chip away loyalty and support from customers. On the flip side of Nissan, Tesla is still upgrading their Roadster – a car that hasn’t been in production for years.

  • Joe Pink

    This just shows that Nissan is not into electric cars for the long haul like Tesla. They have done nothing to really promote electric cars like build a charging infrastructure. I begin to realize this when I upgraded my Leaf from a S to an SL assuming (and told by the Salesman) that the added features (Hybrid heater, LED Headlights and roof solar panel) would help my range. Unfortunately my range dropped by ~10% due to (I am guessing) the wider tires and added weight (Don’t buy the SL if you care about range). Customer Service just said there was nothing wrong with the car and then would not return any of my calls. They now want to charge me $30 a month to turn on my HVAC while plugged in (again to improve range) and do not provide any way to turn on the HVAC from inside the car while plugged in trying to force me to spend even more. Needless to say it has not been a good customer experience for me purchasing my first Nissan. I take solace in the fact that in the long run this will hurt Nissan. I have ~10 people in my sphere of influence who I have convinced not to buy a Nissan.

    • tigertoo

      In the UK and Ireland there is a 50kw DC fast charger at just about every dealer.

  • Keith Deininger

    Does anyone know if you can upgrade a model S to have the new navigation system as the newer cars? I’d like to do this if possible and don’t mind paying for it if it’s reasonable.

    • JD

      Adding the cameras and sonar would be cost prohibitive and no tesla isn’t offering such an upgrade. You’ll just have to have a model s built after October of 2014. Of course I’d you have a car with all the hardware already installed a software update is all that’s needed.

  • Ramon A. Cardona

    My 2011 LEAF with 33,400 miles or so has no issues with regen and shows all bars. As battery technology has evolved rather quickly from 2011-2012 models, and is bound to change exponentially by 2020, it is inevitable that improvements will not fit older cars nor it would be economical to do so. With DC Fast Charging well deployed in my region, all I need is patience and accounts with EVgo, ChargePoint, Blink and Green Lots. Sure, I would love to have a 100 mile plus range but that was not part of the plan. The vehicle is doing more than what I thought. With the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3, with Nissan looking into a range extender for the Leaf, etc. the best option is to lease for now. For owners, keep what you have and lobby, petition, ask, etc. for more DC Fast Chargers in your area. This is the way to go. Besides, I need a reason once in a while to drive my sports car that is just collecting dust for the most part.

  • Simon Shum

    Nissan is totally off base with existing Leaf Owners. People who bought knew they were early adopter that put Leaf on the map and it is such a simple modification to allow existing user base of 200K to use the new battery to replace their version 1 fiasco and if Carlo could just check prices of used Leaf, he would not wish he owns one. The only way Nissan can pay reasonable retribution to those who believed in the Leaf, which is a great concept, is to have backyard compatibility and almost all the operating system do that why not Nissan and it is a great business opportunity to to be able to sell 200K set of 30 KW batteries. Come… on Carlo.

  • GHynson

    I work in the tech industry and it’s not that hard to upgrade batteries if the product was designed right. You can upgrade any notebook or phones with higher capacity batteries for instance. But because Nissan designed obsolesce into their Leaf’s by not allowing you to upgrade too higher capacities, they will be losing a long time customer when I get my Model 3. My Leaf will be going back to the dealership when the lease it up, and I won’t be going back,.. EVER!

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