I wrote yesterday about how a couple of “hackers” out of Quebec found a sly way to increase the performance of Tesla’s Model 3. Well that same company, Ingenext, also has a very cool option for Nissan Leaf owners.
Back in the old-days of EVs, say 2011-2013, Nissan sold their Leaf with a now laughable 24 kWh battery pack. With that amount of juice, drivers could expect around 76 miles on a single charge. However, many people, myself included, have found that reasonable for most situations.
Now as those OG Leafs start to age, and their competition puts the aging batteries to shame, people are looking for a logical replacement. Enter battery swaps, the car equivalent of putting lithium-ion batteries in a Gameboy Color.
Igenext has their BCG module, which allows them to perform swaps on Leafs from “2011 to 2019 for the installation of a 24-30-40-62 kWh battery.” One does have to bring their own battery, which can cost upwards of $9,000 depending on the size, but also can multiply their range by nearly three times!
The BCG is an electronic module installed between the vehicle and the new battery to convert the computer language of the information that is communicated by the battery to make it compatible with the year and the vehicle equipment. It allows you to install a new or used battery without having to make any modifications.
Another inspirational video, this time from Spain, shows Renovables del Sur replacing the battery pack in an older leaf with a custom LG Chem battery. They take out the old cells, fit new ones, and then push new software to recognize the changes.
These guys get 226 miles out of a 64 kWh pack using their technique. They sell the service, for €9,500 with a 48 kWh battery, but don’t yet list the price for their custom 64 kWh pack. After swapping batteries this method will also require a module like the one mentioned earlier to show the correct range and charge. Additionally, they recycle your old batteries for solar use.
This is a new and exciting frontier. The Leaf will be a classic car one day, and many people see little need to replace them, even with old batteries. However, the prospect of replacing and upgrading them is so tantalizing it hurts.
Of course, Nissan dealerships offer no such upgrade, only battery swaps. That leaves a huge hole on the market for these kinds of innovators. By the time I’m ready to switch batteries in a few years, maybe they’ll get even better.