Nissan’s Leaf is an economy car that can’t quite pull its weight against electric automaker Tesla’s Model 3. That hasn’t stopped Nissan from taking a few shots at Nissan. Back in April the company released an ad in the USA Today and New York Times calling out Tesla for its two-year waiting list. “Why wait when you can drive an all-electric Leaf now? And why drop $1,000 to stand in line when you can get $4,000 cash back and best-in-class range?”
Although the Leaf will not challenge the Model 3 in the luxury class, it announced plans to offer standalone battery packs for home energy storage. The battery packs, known as “xStorage,” will save consumers money in the long-term by charging the car at times when off-peak electricity rates are in effect. The xStorage system is essentially Nissan’s take on Tesla’s Powerwall and Mercedes’ residential battery.
Even better, after the battery packs are charged, you can then use the cache to power your home when energy is more expensive, or send it back to the grid when there is higher demand. In essence, the company promises to let you switch between energy sources with a simple smartphone app. The app will have the ability to change over from solar to the grid and vice versa. The xStorage units also have the capability of charing up with a renewable source like solar.
Home-solar arrays are expected to be a significant benefit of energy storage systems that consumers are hoping will become more prevalent. Battery packs like the xStorage will be powered by 12 battery “modules” from Leaf cars. This means the company is effectively recycling the batteries rather than creating new cells. By storing electricity for later use, Nissan will help consumers avoid paying high electric costs by retaining excess solar panel power.
Recycled EV Batteries
By using old Leaf EV batteries in the xStorage units, Nissan is taking its environmental consciousness one step further than the batteries used by Tesla and Mercedes. Although only hardcore environmental advocates seem to know it, Nissan has been working creatively with used batteries for quite awhile, partnering with businesses on commercial energy storage projects. In 2015 Nissan entered a partnership with Green Charge Networks, a commercial energy-storage business that will deploy depleted Leaf battery packs in the U.S. and around the world.
The xStorage system is the company’s first attempt to break into the residential market. Pre-orders begin in September of 2016. Unfortunately, Nissan does not have current plans to offer the battery in the United States. In Europe, the xStorage unit, which will hold about 4.2kWh of electricity, will cost only around €4,000/£3,200 (equivalent to about $4,500), inclusive of installation costs. The packs will allow European consumers to avoid energy tariffs.
Nissan also touted xStorage as a solution for blackouts and other natural disasters. In Japan, all hydrogen fuel-cell and battery-electric vehicles must have a port to discharge over and convert it from DC to AC for use in buildings. Japan’s regulation came about after the 2011 tsunami and earthquake left the country devastated. In response, the Japanese government made shifts in energy policy.
Blackout protection is also behind Tesla’s Powerwall battery pack, which the company claims can be used for emergency power. Nissan and Tesla’s batteries will likely only be usable to power buildings for short periods.