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Market research for electric mobility
Jesús Toucedo
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Nissan Batteries
Fuente: GoranH en Pixabay

When we talk about electric vehicles, we often focus our attention on their price, or whether or not there are enough charging points in a comfortable range to know if it will be a good purchase. However, there is another very important aspect to consider about this type of vehicle: the battery.

Batteries are understood as the key to the success of a business model, that of automobile manufacturing, which has turned towards its power source: electricity. Not only should the battery’s capacity matter, that is, what range of autonomy it allows within a single charge, but also its composition and, of course, its performance, that is, how much useful life it will have before it has to be replaced.

On average, the battery of an electric vehicle will have about 3,000 charge cycles, which represents, assuming a daily charge, approximately 8 years of useful life.

Because the moment will come when the battery needs to be replaced. What you can’t imagine is the daunting budget that brands put toward these efforts.

According to a study carried out by Conepa, the Spanish Federation of Professional Automotive Employers,of the few repairs that need to be carried out on electric vehicles, this is undoubtedly the most expensive. One of the reasons is that many manufacturers choose to replace the entire battery and not just the cells that may be damaged. In addition, the organization points out that not all manufacturers have the same substitution policy. This is an operation that, if carried out, can cost more than 5,000 euros in disbursement.

It can be deduced that there is no interest on the part of the manufacturer in attending to battery replacements. Current vehicle manufacturers continue to focus their business on the manufacture and sale of more and more vehicles every day, instead of solving this task. What’s more important is that there is probably no defined end-of-life plan beyond inviting your customers to buy another model. It is more profitable to sell a complete electric car than just a part, the battery.

Battery Replacement Is A Clear Business Opportunity

As it is, any attempt to change a battery with the manufacturer is simply nonsense. Hence the need to do it with other types of companies.

This is a path that is not easy to take, since the Spanish legislation in this regard is very strict, but also because the homologation of this type of product is complicated. One of the main obstacles when starting to replace electric vehicle batteries is the difficult access to the supply of cells for the manufacture of batteries.

The majority of cells for automotive use are restricted to sale only to companies in the sector, so finding material for our updates has been an arduous journey.

On the other hand, another obstacle lies in the legality of the issue. The homologation costs of the packs make any attempt to do so by small and medium-sized companies prohibitive. Thus, its manufacture is restricted to the private and experimental field.

Changing Batteries, A Growing Need

However, the need for battery replacement is growing among electric vehicle owners. The first to spot it have been customers of the most popular electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf. This vehicle, which landed in Europe in February 2011, sold almost 300,000 units of its first generation in 49 countries.

It arrived in Spain in 2011. This means that these battery changes have been requested for two years. And the numbers are not going to slow down when you consider that this electric vehicle has topped the sales charts for several years, until it was ousted by the Tesla Model 3 in 2019.

In fact, according to the Japanese brand, in Spain, almost 15% of the electric vehicles that circulate on the roads are Nissan models.

Changing The Battery, An Arduous Process

Battery changes are not only requested due to the loss of autonomy because of its degradation, but also to improve the vehicle. That is, an electric car with a 24 kWh battery can be replaced by a more current one. And it is that the changes to superior are the most demanded, there are even 64 kWh prototypes which is the version with the highest capacity of this model.

The handicap is that at present all this process is confined in a bureaucratic universe that blocks any attempt to improve the battery. The brands do not support this resource, they substitute, but do so with another of the same characteristics.

This is something which the independent market continues to struggle with every day. These types of companies insist that not only should the price be reduced, but also that dynamic updating to new capacities should be allowed.  

The good news, however, is that during 2020 the reverse engineering of the Nissan Leaf CAN bus has been greatly developed. This has allowed numerous companies and individuals to eliminate the restrictions imposed by Nissan for the exchange of batteries for others of greater capacity. But there is still a great shortage of original batteries.

Because today, in order to upgrade in a traditional way, it is necessary to first find a donor car. These normally come from accidents where the battery has not been affected. That battery is removed if it is still in good condition and installed.

Individuals and companies are looking for a way to buy these batteries and mount them on older Leafs. One must be aware that the update cannot always be guaranteed.  

To solve this other problem, EV Battery Rebuild manufactures the batteries from scratch. In this way, constant availability and prices can be offered, as well as guaranteeing 100% battery health at the time of installation.

With a two-year warranty against manufacturing defects, they compete with the 8 years offered by brands. The small fish must scratch the market for the big ones. The key is to work with leading cell brands, so the life expectancy of these batteries is similar to that of automotive companies.

This is a new way to prevent customers from assuming life cycles of 5 to 10 years in their vehicles. Because if we continue as before, sooner or later these circumstances will have serious consequences for the consumer and the environment. Clear rules should be urgently raised by governments, certifying entities and manufacturers for the replacement and recycling of battery packs once their useful life has ended.

Batteries Are Also An Opportunity For Europe

Batteries remain a controversial issue between Europe and China. The Asian giant has a hegemonic role in its manufacture, but Europe is aware of this and intends to reverse the situation.  

Battery manufacturing is a highly automated process, which requires specialized labor like we have in Europe. This could be an advantage for the old continent.



On the other hand, European regulations represent a handicap for Chinese companies, which, by demanding the same quality standards required of European manufacturers, lose competitiveness and it is no longer such an interesting market for them.

In this context, it seems important to take up the challenge and try to participate in this fight, since the automotive industry is one of the pillars of the European economy. And along the same lines, European consumers will also appreciate it because, all things being equal, they will always prefer trusted European brands with large service networks that are already established.

This is an opportunity not only for Europe but also for Spain. The lithium deposit in Extremadura may represent the first step of the transformation of the automotive industry in our country, a sector whose contribution to GDP is 11%. So thousands of jobs depend on our ability to find the right path.