Following his announcement of the Nissan Leaf's 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty during the plenary session at the Plug-In 2010 Conference this morning, Nissan North America's executive vice president Carlos Tavares spent some time with reporters answering our questions about just what this means for Nissan and Leaf buyers. We asked the first question that came to our mind when the warranty details (such as they are at this point) were revealed, namely, how much more might this cost Nissan than General Motor's apparently identical warranty for the Chevrolet Volt. The two companies are most certainly fighting for some of the same customers and warranty is one way to take the lead. In fact, GM's Volt Vehicle Line Director, Tony Posawatz, told Green Car Advisor last night, before Nissan made its announcement:
I just want to know who's going to pay for the Leaf battery when it needs to be replaced. Is that in the price or not? I don't know how long those batteries are going to last and you've got to factor that in.
But, even with the same marquee numbers, these two warranties are quite different, and from the outside, it looks like Nissan is taking a bigger risk here. After all, the Leaf has a 24 kWh battery pack compared to the Volt's 16 kWh. Also, the Leaf uses more of its battery than the Volt will, and every mile in a Leaf will be battery-powered, which is not the case in a Volt. So, without question, the Leaf battery will work more. Is Tavares worried that offering the same warranty as the Volt will cause a problem for Nissan? Not in the least.
The number one driver for this decision was the market research we have done, where we ask the consumer what were their expectations and they came up with this number. We believe, by the way, that those expectations may be different market by market, but it clearly came up here in the U.S. that that was what they expected. It happens to be the same number that other competitors are announcing, and we have no problem with that.

We are working on this technology for a long, long time. Since 1992, Nissan has been accumulating enormous knowledge and skills on battery technology. We brought this technology to the market because we considered that we have achieved a level of technology that was in-line with market expectations. So we are very comfortable with this number
.
What are the actual battery degradation levels that will trigger a warranty replacement? Tavares said it's too early to announce those details right now, which gives us another chance to say, "stay tuned."

One final note about the Leaf and battery swapping. A journalist asked about this technology, and Tavares said something that we don't want to read too much into, but wanted to pass along exactly as he said it: ""The Leaf is not capable, here in the U.S., to have this functionality." Make of that what you will.

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