Are You Ready to Rumble? Tesla CEO Calls Nissan’s Battery Tech Primitive

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While on a call with shareholders on Monday (in between spinning why losing another 38.5 million dollars was really a good thing), Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the time to set aside fears of mounting competition and falling behind the cost structure of his peers by taking some shots at the 800lb gorilla, Nissan.

Musk said that Nissan’s pack used a “much more primitive level of technology.” Notable shortfalls being the air cooling system in play inside the LEAF, as opposed to Tesla’s “active liquid thermal control” setup.

Musk also used this more complex BMS to explain/justify his company’s shortfall being able to cost the battery pack for its Roadster and future Model S, in relation to the LEAF’s estimated $400ish price per kWh. While adding that Model S pack costs do look “on track” to be 40% lower than that of the Roadster (which currently stand around $35,000).

Tesla’s inability to compete with Nissan on storage prices might also have something to do with them not actually producing their own in mass…that and the stringing together and management of 6,831 3rd party rechargeable lithium ion batteries isn’t cheap either.

The Tesla CEO said that the LEAF’s temperature will be “all over the place” with a passive air cooled system, and that it will suffer from “huge degradation” in the cold, and will simply “shut off” in hot environments.

Nissan for their part, and with 20 years experience with the tech, has said that the battery will handle the rigors of daily driving just fine with the passive air cooling system, but that in the future, a active system will be introduce to maximize performance even further; however even at that time down the road it will likely still be air cooled, not liquid.

Tesla hopes to introduce the Model S in 2012, at a price of $57,400. According to the company, they have already received over 2,800 refundable, $5,000 deposits to date for the 160 mile+ EV that will top 0-60 in a reported 5.6 seconds. Larger packs will also be available extending the range up to 300 miles. (no pricing to report on the longer range versions)

One has to wonder that given Musk’s bravado about Tesla’s supposed vastly superior battery and management system why they only offer a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty as opposed to Nissan’s 8 year/100,000?

There is no arguing that Elon Musk is a great talker, he has done some remarkable things in his career; just getting the Roadster itself to market was a real accomplishment, and Tesla has done a great service for the advancement of the electric vehicle…but I tend to also have confidence in the company who stands behind their product long term after the sale.

If Nissan only had a similar 3 year warranty and they were new to the business, this story would have a much different twist…but they don’t. 20 years and 100,000 miles of warranty tells me LEAF owners will be just fine.

All this begs the larger question. Why even go after Nissan? Why was this ‘dig’ necessary? The LEAF doesn’t look to be stealing any sales from the Model S anytime soon. Or is it that Tesla is afraid of the “more powerful, sleeker” automobile Infiniti currently has under wraps that they will also bring to market around the same time in 2012 that could threaten Tesla’s future?

(Source: Earth2tech)

23 Responses

  1. Herm says:

    Well it is true the tesla cell is more advanced, it is a commodity cell for laptops that is built in the billions, and is quickly improved due to fierce competition.. but note the Roadster is not using the latest iteration of those cells either. No idea why..

    The LEAF is not a sports car, no great demands are placed on its battery and thus no wild swing of temperatures. A lightly loaded lithium cell just does not generate much heat, they are about 99% efficient under moderate load.

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  2. RB says:

    There is no arguing that Elon Musk is a great talker,…
    —-
    Indeed he is, and he was doing his best to pitch his product as better than the competition now and the competition to come. I admire the daring of Tesla, past and present.

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  3. Gwido says:

    It’s sad seeing EV manufacturers bashing others, while they are so few in the space. That doesn’t help promote EV driving to the public.
    At this stage, I think it would be in Tesla, Nissan and GM interest to praise all EVs coming to the market.

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  4. SteveS says:

    It’s sad seeing EV manufacturers bashing others, while they are so few in the space. That doesn’t help promote EV driving to the public.At this stage, I think it would be in Tesla, Nissan and GM interest to praise all EVs coming to the market.  (Quote)

    I fully agree with this. The whole car business for evs is wide open. Not only that Nissan&GM&Tesla do not even have the same type of product, they are all even going after different market segments. Very unneeded bickering

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  5. BobS says:

    I fully agree with this.The whole car business for evs is wide open.Not only that Nissan&GM&Tesla do not even have the same type of product, they are all even going after different market segments.Very unneeded bickering  

    But it does generate press which is free publicity.

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  6. SteveS says:

    But it does generate press which is free publicity.  (Quote)

    Yes this is true. If it was me which it is not, I would maybe not make a foe out of Nissan for a days press. Nissan could do some serious targeted damage if they wanted to. Think what a extra 20,000 dollars on the leaf platform could do as a reworked Infinti to go after the S, and theyd be still undercutting the S @ around 49.900.

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  7. RB says:

    It’s sad seeing EV manufacturers bashing others, while they are so few in the space. That doesn’t help promote EV driving to the public.
    At this stage, I think it would be in Tesla, Nissan and GM interest to praise all EVs coming to the market.  


    Mr. Musk is of course mainly concerned with promoting his own company, so he is not focused on promoting EV driving to the public except insofar as it helps Tesla.
    -
    Tesla investors are, at the same time, very concerned about Tesla as compared to other companies. Consequently, Musk had to make comparative comments, and Tesla had to be the best, at least in his view and on the points he spoke about.

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  8. Marcus says:

    —Mr. Musk is of course mainly concerned with promoting his own company, so he is not focused on promoting EV driving to the public except insofar as it helps Tesla.-Tesla investors are, at the same time, very concerned about Tesla as compared to other companies. Consequently, Musk had to make comparative comments, and Tesla had to be the best, at least in his view and on the points he spoke about.  (Quote)

    RB-How many shares?

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  9. James says:

    I read somewhere that Tesla lost $100,000 for every roadster they sold. Musk announced Nissan will be making money on every $32,000 LEAF sold. The LEAF is the leading force in the automotive evolution to EV’s.

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  10. GeorgeS says:

    Actually, Tesla would have reported a profit had it not been for their plant acquisition as revenue grew 5%.

    Tesla and Nissan are in 2 different markets. Nissan is doing the most they can to make the product affordable and therefore this dictates a low cost cooling scheme. I will hope that Herm’s assessment of being able to deal with the issue thru battery chemistry is correct. —-and if it’s not we have a warranty.

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  11. stuart22 says:

    (from the blog):Nissan for their part, and with 20 years experience with the tech, has said that the battery will handle the rigors of daily driving just fine with the passive air cooling system, but that in the future, a active system will be introduce to maximize performance even further; however even at that time down the road it will likely still be air cooled, not liquid…..

    20 years experience with li-ion batteries? I didn’t know that. I hope that, for the sake of all of us EV hopefuls, Nissan make good on all the good faith and benefits of the doubt so many of us are giving them.

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  12. James says:

    I ment Carlos Ghosn announced Nissan will be making money on every LEAF sold. That’s what I get for posting before my first cup of coffee.

    SteveS – I agree there is plenty of EV market share to go around. Go bash the SUV’s not the EV’s.

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  13. Luke says:

    Primitive or not, I’ll take a $33k electric car with a 100-mile range and room both the wife and the baby over a $100k electric car with 2 seats and a 200-mile range.

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  14. DonC says:

    Tesla is not going to make it if their only source of income is the Roadster and the Model S. The sales volumes for these cars will just be too low. At the moment they’re making more by selling their technology to the likes of Daimler and Toyota. (Their zero emission credits are going away). The better the perception of their technology the higher the value placed on it, and the more money for Tesla. So throwing a few stones at Nissan’s technology is expected.

    On a kWh basis you have to think Tesla has the lowest cost cells, but then you have to string them together and manage them. Ugh. Lots of cost. You also have to agree that the Nissan battery management system is primitive, as is Tesla’s when compared to the Volt’s, but, like Luke says, getting an EV in the low to mid $20K range has considerable appeal.

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  15. blind guy says:

    If you go down the road a little ways just around the curve, Nissan and Tesla could be competing for some of the same customers. Tesla maybe with Toyota? will be building more affordable EVs and Nissan is coming from the other direction with more possibilities of new parallel-series hybrids and more luxurious choices from Infiniti. For me, I’ll take a BEV with 150-200 mile range maybe with those surround cameras instead of mirrors in around 2 or 3 years. Thx.

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  16. Herm says:

    I dont think the battery management and tech of Nissan is primitive at all.. its just right.

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  17. Herm says:

    Nissan could take away much of Tesla’s sports car market if they used their new platform to make a sporty 2 seater.. increase the battery size (35kwh with a 200HP motor) to be able to drive a bigger motor and sell the thing for $45k or so.. only problem is that the sporty 2 seater market is fairly limited. The battery location under the seats would make a superior sports car to the Roadster… only issue is the rear suspension but the Mustang has proven that can be made to work very well.

    One advantage to us moderate drivers is that the sporty 2 seater would have a tremendous range when driven sanely… and it would still look good for mid life crises.

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  18. GeorgeS says:

    I dont think the battery management and tech of Nissan is primitive at all.. its just right.  

    I have faith in you Herm. You better be right.

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  19. RicksEV says:

    Tesla is not going to make it if their only source of income is the Roadster and the Model S. The sales volumes for these cars will just be too low. At the moment they’re making more by selling their technology to the likes of Daimler and Toyota. (Their zero emission credits are going away). The better the perception of their technology the higher the value placed on it, and the more money for Tesla. So throwing a few stones at Nissan’s technology is expected.On a kWh basis you have to think Tesla has the lowest cost cells, but then you have to string them together and manage them. Ugh. Lots of cost. You also have to agree that the Nissan battery management system is primitive, as is Tesla’s when compared to the Volt’s, but, like Luke says, getting an EV in the low to mid $20K range has considerable appeal.  (Quote)

    I really don’t understand Tesla’s business case or how they can ever make money. I don’t understand how the model s gets to market in a year and a half & I don’t understand how it will be $58,000. Also I don’t understand how companies like Nissan & Ford won’t be there to crush them when they get the car out. Tesla didnt make a profit when they had the whole market to themselves for 5 years, why will they start now?

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  20. RB says:

    RB-How many shares?


    LOL. I’m not a big-time investor like statik.
    Tesla is a company I love to watch, but too much risk for my limited possibilities.
    (That is, zero shares.)
    Yet I think that have done the world and all to push EVs forward.

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  21. Herm says:

    The title is not spelled right, its a primitive, archaic spelling of primitive. Obsolete like a 25 mile range NEV.

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  22. The title is not spelled right, its a primitive, archaic spelling of primitive. Obsolete like a 25 mile range NEV.  (Quote)

    Oh sure, you let me go the whole day before telling me, (=
    .
    /fixed

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  23. maybe i ought to to say i recognize cathal more, i understand that the little lamp can be interesting, and it make energy saving comes turth, but it also wast much mor evergy in other type. metal merchandise! Alona Derksen

      (Quote)

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