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Hi All, I've had a few messages recently asking about battery upgrades, mainly relating to the LEAF. Thought I'd past my latest reply here for general info.

We did our first battery swaps and built a 24kWh extender pack way back in 2014. We know the industry well and have a ton of experience.

Indra no longer do battery swap or extender pack work for B2C customers so we can speak quite openly about it. We are still doing a little for B2B and I believe remain the only company with an actual relationship/agreement with AESC to purchase new cells/packs and are also setup with Nissan to do this properly - we are set up as a dealer so have the dealer tool, registration card etc to which remains the only way of pairing a battery properly.

The battery upgrade industry has developed from a very specialist niche into largely cowboy industry in the last couple of years with the growth/excitment around EVs. The quality provided by others is often too low so its something we got out of doing. Its a race to the bottom and only a matter of time before something goes seriously wrong - we want nothing to do with that. Our main customers are the likes of main dealers, private dealers and far flung export markets like the West Indies.

Just some of our concerns/notes on the current industry practice.

- Plywood batter enclosures.

- Lack of cable strain relief and huge chaff risks.

- Poor quality harnesses - have seen pins backing out etc.

- Battery management - poor quality, poorly configured or simply no BMS is not uncommon.

- Wrong BMS - we have seen BMS from earlier batteries used to get around the pairing issue which is very dangerous - FCV moved from 4.2v to 4.15v after Gen2.

- Use of batteries from grey sources.

- Mixed gen batteries, I have seen gen4 modules used in Gen 3 packs as replacements.

- Many extender packs cause issues with charging.

- CAN bridges made by amateurs sat between safety critical ECUs. (Our ASIL experienced engineers have pulled one apart) after a muxsan customer came to us with rapid charge issues (We also know just a little bit about CHAdeMO and AC charging...)

- Intrusion into passenger cabin of battery/HV - not allowed.

- Balancing of newly installed modules never happens properly.

- 'Balancing' of low voltage cells - Frankly dangerous and masks issues. Majority of the time this points to an internal short circuit or reduced capacity rather than a healthy cell being out of balance. Rebalancing in that scenario is pointless - a low capacity cell is still low!

- Disposal - I bet the majority of these companies have no idea how to dispose of spent modules and aren't coating this in

- Shipping - costs a fortune, class 9 hazardous goods - frustratingly others ignore this which makes them able to undercut others.

Mike

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I didn't know Indra was partnered with AESC. I knew the Nissan tie up with all the V2G involvement. I suppose AESC will need to be in on V2G too

Kudos.

I honestly think Nissan should directly offer battery replacement as physical packs are identical in shape and size. BUT they are in business of selling news cars.

I agree that extender packs, individual cell replacements etc are not addressing the issue properly.

Even when Nissan take the car to replace modules, they do not balance it properly.

Overall I agree something will go wrong at some point.

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Indra no longer do battery swap or extender pack work for B2C customers so we can speak quite openly about it.



Do you have any recommendations for B2C battery swaps and exteders? People come on SpeakEV looking for pack upgrades. I'm sure most of them don't follow through once they see a price.

On the other hand there are plenty of 24 and soon 30kWh LEAFs that could see a useful life extension with a pack upgrade. Some people see the value and will spend the money.

If you can, it would be helpful to know which if any of your buisness customers are reselling Indra upgraded cars. At least we'd know that the upgrades were done properly.

remain the only company with an actual relationship/agreement with AESC to purchase new cells/packs and are also setup with Nissan to do this properly
Are new modules still easy to come by? Just curious. . .
 

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FWIW our former 2014 LEAF Tekna is not taxed or insured.

Our 2017 LEAF Tekna 30 has a valid MOT but is not insured. The tax expired April 2019.

Looks like both Nissans are off the road :(


Our former 2008 MINI is both taxed and insured. The MOT expired a week ago.

That the EVs are both gone is dissapointing, especially for the 2017 LEAF 30.
 

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The thing about manufacturers (of cars) providing upgrades is that generally it would be bad for their share price. Given the tendency for directors to be paid against share price targets this is a massive motivator.

The market sees a manufacturer and wants to see units shipped and some happy numbers around the cost per unit supporting the manufacture of that together with low per unit warranty costs etc.

If they start servicing (remember most is currently done by their dealer network that they do not own) then the numbers change. From a market perspective they cannibalise new sales.

I worked for a long time for a US IT infrastructure maker and we struggled endlessly with this issue of when to cut support for old kit.....eventually a difficult relationship for parts was developed with a 3rd party - difficult as they preferred dumpster diving for parts rather than paying us for certified ones.

See the similarities?

Old leafs run old controllers (many made by others such as Bosch) on old networks too and nobody wants to support them for changes - they are effectively no longer developed and so ‘bodging’ a newer pack onto an older car is just that - tell a few lies about who you are (using a dongle) to get accepted by the old software (a bit like dating profiles). The issue is when things go wrong or unanticipated stuff happens for which the old frozen code has no answer.

With the exception of one Chinese maker, battery swaps for whatever reason are a last ditch action. All the major U.K. EV suppliers’ warranties are based on fix to 70% or whatever the cut off is and at least one says ‘or other financial remedy’ (for if the old stuff gets scarce or expensive I assume).

It’s a mistake to think ‘it just a bunch of batteries’ - it’s very very much not.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Do you have any recommendations for B2C battery swaps and exteders? People come on SpeakEV looking for pack upgrades. I'm sure most of them don't follow through once they see a price.

On the other hand there are plenty of 24 and soon 30kWh LEAFs that could see a useful life extension with a pack upgrade. Some people see the value and will spend the money.

If you can, it would be helpful to know which if any of your buisness customers are reselling Indra upgraded cars. At least we'd know that the upgrades were done properly.



Are new modules still easy to come by? Just curious. . .
Extenders - I have never seen done safely or well.

For like for like swaps (e.g. 24kWh to 24kWh) then in the B2C space the only company I would trust is Power-Drive EV - Electric, Conversion, Electric, Autos and Vehicles - run by one of our ex staff.

For upgrades (e.g. 24kWh to 40kWh) then I don't think anyone other than Nissan (or those with Nissan equipment) is able to do it properly (i.e. by pairing the battery to the car without using a dodgy CAN bridge device).

The price for this (ignoring value of the old pack) was £10k for brand new replacement pack. Clearly there could be savings by using salvage batteries, we have purchased a 40kWh pack for £4500 previously.

I'm not aware of any company that can source brand new batteries. I believe everything offered elsewhere uses salvage/grey market cells.



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While i get the concern, certain aspects do feel like an attack on Muxsan.

People build DIY EV's, including yourselves at one point.

Are you really trying to suggest that a 40kwh nissan pack installed into a 24kwh car, with a CAN bridge in place to report the correct battery id to the car is somehow a terrifying concoction, thats somehow worse than some of those DIY projects? I find that somewhat hard to believe.
 

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While i get the concern, certain aspects do feel like an attack on Muxsan.

People build DIY EV's, including yourselves at one point.

Are you really trying to suggest that a 40kwh nissan pack installed into a 24kwh car, with a CAN bridge in place to report the correct battery id to the car is somehow a terrifying concoction, thats somehow worse than some of those DIY projects? I find that somewhat hard to believe.
Muxsan are one of the companies referred to yes, they are not the worst but do leave something to be desired, especially on their use of CAN bridges and wooden battery boxes. But this is absolutely not a direct attack on them or anyone in the industry, they just happen to be one of the companies shouting loudly. I have nothing to gain by 'attacking' them as we do not compete with them.

DIY EVs are going through a very similar stage, the same reason we got out of that B2C market to focus on supporting OEMs. The big difference with battery upgrades and extenders is the proprietary systems on an OEM EV bring in a ton of unknowns which cause confusion and bodgey workarounds.

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There's a difference between building a DIY EV for own use, and offering a commercial service to consumers.

With regards the CAN bridge... automotive electronics must meet very stringent test standards. EVERY SINGLE COMPONENT (as in, every resistor, capacitor, semiconductor device, etc) must be supported by PPAP documentation and also be change controlled - ie the part can't just be moved from one factory to another or changed to a "new recipe". Each part must go through very stringent qualification tests to prove that it is reliable across temperature, humidity, vibration, etc.

Many parts, even humble 2N7002 transistors, are available in "commercial" and "automotive" grade.

I suspect that what Mike is suggesting is that the CAN bridge has been designed in a hobbyist manner using standard commercial grade components and without any awareness of automotive requirements.

The next step beyond that is, as Mike also refers to, ASIL/ISO26262 compliance, which requires any part of a system to be able to report a fault at the very least, all the way up to total redundancy in the system. A device that is literally spoofing something else and by definition masking its own existance can not possibly be fault tolerant in this way.

The point, I believe, is that making wooden battery boxes and the like is fine for a hobbyist building their own machine. You take that risk knowingly - just like a hobbyist putting a welded metal fuel tank into a kit-car. However, you'd never sell something built that way as a business to a consumer.
 

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FWIW our former 2014 LEAF Tekna is not taxed or insured.

Our 2017 LEAF Tekna 30 has a valid MOT but is not insured. The tax expired April 2019.

Looks like both Nissans are off the road :(


Our former 2008 MINI is both taxed and insured. The MOT expired a week ago.

That the EVs are both gone is dissapointing, especially for the 2017 LEAF 30.
I find it very difficult to believe that unless written off following an accident that both vehicles have been taken off of the road. There is no reason that they should have failed completely even if the original battery capacity has degraded considerably. Could it be that they have migrated to "private number plates" or been exported to secondary markets such as NZ?
FWIW the three LEAFs that I am associated with are 2 x 2014 and 1 x 2015 and all (touching wood) are healthy with SoH > 85% and with plenty of life left.
 

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I find it very difficult to believe that unless written off following an accident that both vehicles have been taken off of the road. There is no reason that they should have failed completely even if the original battery capacity has degraded considerably. Could it be that they have migrated to "private number plates" or been exported to secondary markets such as NZ?
FWIW the three LEAFs that I am associated with are 2 x 2014 and 1 x 2015 and all (touching wood) are healthy with SoH > 85% and with plenty of life left.
There's a large number of cars sat in the auction a second hand dealer systems at the moment.

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That seems more likely, especially for the 2017 LEAF. It was low miles when we handed it back and the pack was in excellent health. The 2014 was about to drop a bar when we handed it back in 2017.
 

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(I got sent here by a beta product customer that had their car serviced by Indra quite soon after we installed our products)

Hi, MUXSAN here, Emile Nijssen speaking. First of all, I'd like to make it very clear that we mostly share the concerns raised by Indra and have for a while on other forums as well as in real life. We've been critical of parties like EVBatteryRebuilds for a multitude of reasons, as well as a few other parties all over the world doing interesting stuff - interesting in the sense of 'we're interested to see how long they will live, let alone how long the car will last'. Cars are dangerous things, and anybody modifying other people's cars for a living should be cognizant of the fact that their modification may have safety and longevity implications. Moreover, there is a social responsibility on the part of modding and tuning companies like Indra and MUXSAN to provide products that perform as advertised and to a degree of quality that is in line with customers' expectations, even when that customer is not aware of their actual expectations and 'just wants more range, now!'. Likewise, this social responsibility extends to service, warranty and long-term service.

MUXSAN is not a battery upgrade company, we're an EV life extension company. Our mission is much broader than - at the moment - any other company in this fledgling cottage industry in that we look at the EV landscape as a whole and try to design and offer products that make old EVs just as appealing to keep or even buy as a new one - because often old EVs have much greater potential for longevity than old ICE cars. This is massively important to actually realize the sustainability goals of electricifaction as we move away from fossil fuels. There's no use in 100kmi Leafs being scrapped, they need to drive 500kmi. And they can.

Now, let's dive into philosophy, business and regulatory systems, because I feel like a lot of the apprehensions Mike here has stem from a backwards view of the business of car service as well as car design. It shouldn't be a controversial statement to say that car manufacturers make their margins on sales and service, and thus will try to shape their dealership and sales model around maximizing profit. Part of this strategy is removing or effectively removing repair and upgrade options from the open market - you'll notice that if you go on an open market parts dealer, you will not find original Nissan Leaf parts. This is by design and in parts of the world by law - Nissan will refuse to sell any original parts to anybody but an approved dealership. At the same time, this creates a market for analogues and off-brand replacement parts which, again by design, are often parts sold by dealerships as a 'cheaper' option but are really sold at more of a markup than original parts. Dealerships can thus double dip on any replacement options and loyalty to Nissan original parts nets Nissan a lot of margin as well. To be clear; although I have moral qualms with this business model, Nissan isn't sitting in a big pool of money because of this. This is a - in our economic system - legitimate way of trying to make money via the backdoor, enabling lower sticker prices on new cars. Likewise this keeps dealerships in business even though the margins on new cars are abysmal.

None of this needs to be this way, and it is not fundamentally illegitimate, bad or even technically inferior to source parts outside of the paths preferred by the manufacturer or official dealerships. There may be concerns with proper handling of replacement parts, but that's what service manuals are for. And let's be honest here - we have had plenty of interactions with Nissan dealerships, they know jack squat about servicing the Leaf and the best they can generally offer if something is wrong, is to either send the car to the one Leaf servicing garage (at great expense) or to replace entire parts even if there are much cheaper and simpler repair options. Being part of the official, Nissan-sanctioned dealership network does not bestow upon a garage any skills or know-how, it just means they pay their dues to Nissan.

Now, lastly, there are some factual inaccuracies specific to our products I need to address in Mike's posts.
  • We don't have plywood battery boxes. Our battery boxes are UN/ECE 100 compliant, fireproof, chemically inert epoxy reinforced glass fiber. There are plywood inserts (coated by ample fireproofing) for mounting points, as the glass fiber itself would crack if the forces of a fastener aren't properly spread. These aren't structural and aren't exposed to air or possible battery leakage anywhere. Our extender battery products for the e-NV200 are either stainless steel boxes (UBEX) or resin-coated plywood, with a fiberglass interior lining and threaded inserts for mounting.
  • The extender battery install you saw that had charging issues was a beta product, literally the first install of its kind. The charging issues at DBT fast chargers have long ago since been resolved, and do not exist in final installs. We've had other installs with charging issues, sure, but again only in beta installs.
  • Our CAN bridge is, if you buy it from us, completely automotive compliant. It conforms to all dependent regulations in UN/ECE 100, e.g. CISPR-25, CISPR-12, IPXXD as well as standard SAE 12V requirements like immunity to 60VDC pulses and survivability of various thermal and electrical transients. The design is completely open source including parts and placement, so you can check this yourself if you want!
  • The CAN bridge's CAN drivers have been tested according to SAE CAN 2.0B's immunity and performance standards and perform completely within spec for up to 100% bus loading in transparent mode. We have unit tests in place to make sure we do not cause the board to go out of spec with the addition of our MITMing code. If you buy a CAN bridge from us including software, this firmware will have been tested to be compliant and not cause any issues on a CAN 2.0B compliant CAN bus.
  • Likewise our cable harnesses and splices use only original and approved parts, properly handled. Our high voltage splices are installed with specialty high voltage polyurethane potting from an approved supplier.
  • We are currently in the process of attaining E-certification for our extender products, which will make them an approved product that can be installed by any garage in the EU given a few particular prerequisites like proper high voltage training and certain approved tools.
I don't think any of the other points are aimed at MUXSAN.
 

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There's a difference between building a DIY EV for own use, and offering a commercial service to consumers.

With regards the CAN bridge... automotive electronics must meet very stringent test standards. EVERY SINGLE COMPONENT (as in, every resistor, capacitor, semiconductor device, etc) must be supported by PPAP documentation and also be change controlled - ie the part can't just be moved from one factory to another or changed to a "new recipe". Each part must go through very stringent qualification tests to prove that it is reliable across temperature, humidity, vibration, etc.

Many parts, even humble 2N7002 transistors, are available in "commercial" and "automotive" grade.

I suspect that what Mike is suggesting is that the CAN bridge has been designed in a hobbyist manner using standard commercial grade components and without any awareness of automotive requirements.

The next step beyond that is, as Mike also refers to, ASIL/ISO26262 compliance, which requires any part of a system to be able to report a fault at the very least, all the way up to total redundancy in the system. A device that is literally spoofing something else and by definition masking its own existance can not possibly be fault tolerant in this way.

The point, I believe, is that making wooden battery boxes and the like is fine for a hobbyist building their own machine. You take that risk knowingly - just like a hobbyist putting a welded metal fuel tank into a kit-car. However, you'd never sell something built that way as a business to a consumer.
But realistically, thats the case with many car modifications...

If i buy an aftermarket "standalone" ECU for my ICE engine that i've installed into a different chassis, it almost certainly wont meet the same standards that the OEM will have met when building the original vehicle. It doesnt matter if i fit that engine myself, or pay a garage to do it. It wasnt intended to fit in that vehicle, thus modified non-original parts are required to achieve it. Its probably also changed the cars dynamics, handling, potentially altered stability control systems and other such things, but those are all par for the course of modifying a vehicle.

Clearly, you have a choice. If you want the factory approved install, well you sell your 24kwh leaf and buy a 40kwh one. There is simply no official way to make that swap happen. Any method to achieve it will require "fiddling" with the cars electronics, and that means either some ability to reprogram things, or something that can act as a "man in the middle".

Wooden battery boxes does sound a little iffy, i'll agree there.

Some of the other stuff, well again its the usual choice. If i have a LEAF thats out of warranty and has bad cells, The official approach; goto nissan main dealer and buy a new battery pack, simply isnt going to happen. The new cost of the pack far outweighs the value of the car. Thus i can a) scrap the car, b) find a replacement battery pack and install it complete (requiring a "bodgy" can bridge), or c) buy a few cells from salvage packs and swap them out.

a) has obvious environmental issues. b and c are, according to the original post, "bad".

Theres a clear distinction in my mind between "bad workmanship" (things like the wiring harness issues and cabling issues mentioned) and modifying the car in order to repair/upgrade in a non-approved manner.
 

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Thanks very much Mike. I started another thread over on the Leaf40 subforum about this issue a few weeks ago (post title: Real world range of a Leaf40 or something like that) and I will, at the very least, follow this debate with interest over a period of several months. I would be keen to hear users' experiences.
 

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Some of the other stuff, well again its the usual choice. If i have a LEAF thats out of warranty and has bad cells, The official approach; goto nissan main dealer and buy a new battery pack, simply isnt going to happen. The new cost of the pack far outweighs the value of the car.
Ever tried the same for an equivalent age ICE? I've seen quotes from a Mini dealer for a replacement Mini Cooper engine for £5,800 on a car worth a fraction of that.

or c) buy a few cells from salvage packs and swap them out.

a) has obvious environmental issues. b and c are, according to the original post, "bad".
I think that is not what Mike said about that option c - it is what Nissan (and Renault) do themselves. Mike's point was that he has seen the wrong modules fitted, which like fitting the wrong offset wheels (even if from the same Make and model of car can be dangerous - e.g. Xdrive BMW wheels can differ in offset from a non-Xdrive car by 23mm in the case of the 2010 5 series). It may bolt straight on, and may not cause you to have an accident, but it could go very wrong.
 

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Ever tried the same for an equivalent age ICE? I've seen quotes from a Mini dealer for a replacement Mini Cooper engine for £5,800 on a car worth a fraction of that.
Well exactly. If you broke the engine on an older ICE, you'd buy one from a breakers, or have the existing unit repaired, depending exactly what broke. Its not any different to expect the same non-official routes for EV's?

Some years back i repaired the engine in a colleagues Audi TT after the timing belt snapped, using pistons i bought used from a forum, and a head from ebay, all bolted back together with aftermarket bolts and gaskets. Absolutely wouldnt have met any OEM standards for a reconditioned engine. But it worked and he drove it around for years before eventually selling it on.
 

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Current ICE have their engines matched to their ECUs, so reprogramming is required to move them between cars. Releasing the software for this, like swapping batteries, is at the discretion of the manufacturer.
 

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There has been a series on TV recently, "Vintage Voltage" where customers seemingly with more money than sense rip the guts out of old 'classic' cars and replace them with Tesla Model S batteries. In true TV traditional it always works out wonderfully and the customer is happy with the result.
I wonder if they are getting hold of new batteries or insurance write-offs?
 
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