Battery upgrades in 2016
What is confirmed and what is expected?
Since the Chevrolet Bolt with its 60 kWh battery is arriving at this year’s end, current generation electric cars will have range improvements and price drops to survive in the electric car market.
Nissan Leaf (already available)
The new 30 kWh version is already available and will be the first to get price cuts. In Germany discounts for this version already exist and in the UK the difference to lease the 24 kWh and the 30 kWh is now so low, that the 30 kWh is the obvious best choice.
BMW i3 (confirmed)
The i3 will have its battery upgraded from 60 Ah cells to 94 Ah, this translates in an increase from 21,6 kWh to 33,84 kWh. This 57 % improvement will make the BEV’s version EPA range go to around 127 miles (204 km), and the extended range version will certainly reach the goal of 200 miles or 322 km range. In 2017 I expect another upgrade, this time to 120 Ah cells that Samsung SDI already talked about a year ago at 2015 NAIAS, doubling the initial battery capacity.
Volkswagen e-Golf (confirmed)
e-Golf’s battery is expected to move from 25 Ah cells to 37 Ah, meaning an upgrade from 24,75 kWh to 36,63 kWh. This 48 % increase means a more or less 123 EPA miles range.
Volkswagen e-Up (confirmed)
e-Up’s battery is expected to move from 25 Ah cells to 37 Ah, meaning a change from 18,7 kWh to 28,3 kWh. No EPA range available since this little car isn’t sold in the USA.
Ford Focus electric (confirmed)
Ford already confirmed the upgraded Focus EV will get CCS fast charging capability and a 100 EPA mile range. No word yet about the battery capacity but the cells will continue to be LG Chem.
Renault Zoe (expected)
The 26 kWh battery is expected to be upgraded to 40 kWh. The LG Chem cells should be the same that will be used in Chevrolet Bolt, but instead of 288 cells, the Zoe will keep the 192 cell configuration, so expect 2/3 of Bolt’s battery capacity. The announcement should be made at Paris Auto Show in October, the same month that Chevy Bolt will have its production started. Renault will try its best as Nissan did, to not offer the possibility of current Zoe’s owners get the new battery. I think they will say a 40 kWh battery will need 100 kW fast charge, and the new Zoe will have to support CCS.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV (not probable)
This little electric car has a 16 kWh battery made with 88 LEV50N cells. Yuasa GS already has LEV75 cells that represent 50 % more capacity, meaning a 24 kWh battery. Unfortunately, Mitsubishi seems focused in PHEVs and the little EV will probably be discontinued.
If the European version of Chevrolet Bolt is sold by the Opel brand for 35.000-40.000 € before incentives, I can see existing demand for 20.000-25.000 € electric cars that have about half the range. Chevrolet Bolt is the best news for electric mobility this year, it will help to increase range and lower prices of current offers.
In 2017 with another wave of range increases and price cuts, PHEVs will start to be less and less appealing.