Nissan USA now officially offers a 40kWh battery upgrade for the 30kWh Leaf

Posted on: April 6, 2020

Up until now, Nissan hasn’t shown any interest in allowing the owners of early Leafs to upgrade to higher capacity battery packs fitted to newer models. In 2015, when the 30kWh battery was released, Nissan even went as far as claiming that a 30kWh battery was incompatible with the earlier cars – this was true, but only because they intentionally altered the communication protocol between the car and battery to make it so.

The lack of backwards compatibility continued with the release of the 40kWh and 62kWh battery packs as well. Along with individuals and other EV specialist companies around the world, we’ve been reverse engineering the various communications protocols to allow newer higher capacity battery packs to be installed into earlier cars using a simple plug-in interface that translates the communications as required. But Nissan USA has recently released an even better solution – a new 40kWh battery which comes pre-programmed to communicate with a 2016-2017 Leaf originally fitted with a 30kWh battery.

This made sense for a lot of reasons and we saw it coming well over a year ago. Firstly, Nissan hasn’t produced the battery modules used in their 30kWh battery in any part of the world since mid 2017 when the manufacturing lines producing those modules and the cells within, were switched over to producing for the 40kWh Leaf. However, the 30kWh Leaf was sold with an 8 year battery warranty which means that with production continuing until 2017, Nissan has to support it until 2025. Rather than holding on to expensive but aging 30kWh battery stock, Nissan USA has now discontinued the 30kWh battery entirely. They can now grab a fresh 40kWh battery pack and simply use a reprogrammed lithium battery controller (LBC) inside the battery that suits a 30kWh Leaf. We would love to see Nissan offer this same upgrade for Leafs originally fitted with a 24kWh as well. Doing so would be a fairly trivial exercise for them
requiring nothing more than some new LBC firmware versions to suit those earlier cars at least back to 2013. 2011/2012 is also not difficult but would require a slightly different wiring loom inside the battery pack or an external low voltage wiring adpator harness.

What we didn’t know was whether or not Nissan USA would try to hide the extra battery capacity by programming the lithium battery controller to only allow the same range as the original 30kWh battery. Fortunately that isn’t the case, and Leaf owners in the USA are already reporting their excitement after receiving a warranty replacement battery that gives their car significantly more range than it had when new. Additionally, Nissan USA is being quite open about the fact that the new battery is the 40kWh version – they just aren’t advertising it. Outside of the USA, we haven’t seen Nissan offering this upgrade yet, but that may follow in the future.

Within the last year or so, there have been numerous negative reports from around the world about Leaf owners receiving completely unreasonable quotes from their local Nissan dealer when inquiring about a replacement 24kWh or 30kWh battery pack for their Leaf. The retail prices for these packs are indeed still completely unreasonable in many markets, but this may be a case of Nissan not actually having the ability to supply a sufficient number of these battery packs to meet demand if the price was reasonable. In the USA, the prices never got to be as outrageous, but there were several unexplained price increases with the retail prices getting as high as US$7650 for a 24kWh pack. Fortunately, Nissan USA has recently returned back to a reasonable price of US$4500 for some (not all) of the 24kWh model. Could this signal that they are looking to clear some old battery stock to make way for 40kWh upgrades for 24kWh Leafs? It would be great if that were that case and it would certainly make use of some of Nissan’s excess battery supply at a time when new Leaf sales (and sales of most things worldwide) are slowing down. If that turns out to the be case, out-of-warranty 24kWh Leaf owners should expect a new 40kWh battery to cost just over US$11k plus labour assuming Nissan keeps the original battery. That would be quite appealing to many, particularly if a lease or finance option was offered. 

As of March 2020, Nissan USA retail battery prices were as follows. These prices factor in Nissan keeping the car’s original pack which they classify as having a value of US$1000. 

Battery Type

Retail Price (USD)

Price per kWh Approx. (USD)


$4,500 – 7,650

188 – 319