Ouch. There's now some independent analysis that says the Nissan Leaf wilts in the heat.

Led by Leaf owner Tony Williams, a group of Nissan EV owners tested a dozen Leafs in Phoenix last weekend. The group put the Leafs on a pre-planned route at pre-determined speeds to measure their fully charged ranges and to find out if extensive heat has led to premature degradation of the car's battery capacity, according to posts on the My Nissan Leaf forums and Green Car Reports.

The group found that half the Leafs tested had, at "full" charge, battery-capacity indicators showing just 10 out of the original 12 bars and averaged slightly less than the 73-mile single-charge range certified by the EPA. One Leaf had just eight bars showing – indicating about a third of the battery capacity was gone – and went just 59 miles before petering out. And one Leaf, purchased new only a month ago, was already missing a battery-capacity bar.

Leaf owners in Arizona started making noise this summer about how the desert heat was causing their cars to lose battery capacity quicker than Nissan originally said. The automaker, which hasn't commented on the most recent Arizona results, previously estimated that the Leaf's battery pack will keep as much as 80 percent of its capacity after a decade of use.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn recently told The Wall Street Journal that the company is working on a second-generation Leaf battery that will be cheaper than the current one. That could spell good news for a model whose U.S. sales through August were down 31 percent from a year earlier.

AutoblogGreen inquired with Nissan about the Phoenix test, and spokeswoman Katherine Zachary offered the following:

Nissan has been working hard to understand some Leaf customers' concerns in the desert southwest. We've tested a number of individual vehicles and will be contacting those owners to discuss their individual results in the near term. We also anticipate having more information to release to the wider Arizona customer base soon. We are taking Phoenix customer concerns seriously and are working hard to ensure their full satisfaction.

In other words, there will be more on this topic down the road.


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  • 137 Comments
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      "We are taking Phoenix customer concerns seriously and are working hard to ensure their full satisfaction." If that were true, Tony wouldn't be driving from San Diego, CA to Arizona to run a real-world range test, at his own inconvenience and expense.
      Sofiax
      • 2 Years Ago
      Im making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do, Blue31 DOt c om
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sigh. I feel like Nissan is kicking the can down the road. We'll know the truth in another 2-3 years, but it does not look good so far. I'm not sure how the bars are calculated on this car, but what you want to look for is reduced range in batteries over time.Those bars should slowly represent less miles, or more precisely, less amp hours.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        The bars are well-documented to be non-linear. The first bar represents -15% degradation. Subsequent bars are closer to 7-8%.
      Warren
      • 2 Years Ago
      Folks here, and on other sites, are now wondering how LiFePO4 might do in a production car. We won't have to wonder for much longer. The Coda, at the price of a Leaf, has more EPA range, and uses "cheap Chinese" LiFePO4 cells. Folks have said its just a copy of an old Corolla. But 2000 charge cycles from now people may think that old Corolla looks pretty good.
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nissan could have avoid all this bad publicity had the Leaf included a battery thermo management system. Another example of Nissan's penny wise dollar foolish. As a wise man once said, we all deserve what's coming to us.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Yeah, they seriously miscalculated how a region could have such a negative experience... and cause such a black eye. And then they made things worse by ignoring them for so long.
      rolanie3
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is bad... really bad. This could make electric cars look very bad in the eyes of the uninformed. Customers will assume that the EPA rating will degrade rapidly for ANY electric car because Nissan is one of the first, and therefore setting the precedent. All we can hope is for more LiPO4 based cells like A123 instead of the current LiMg My advice to current leaf owners is to leave the battery at > 90% charge for as little time as you possibly can. Keep it in the 30-80% range as often as you can. When fully charged, lithium batteries generate much more internal heat (>100 F!) - you may not feel it, but the battery does. It's best NOT to top it off all the time, but if you need all the range for your day set the charger so that the charge completes as soon as you are going to leave. This actually applies to many of your electrical devices too (phones, laptops, etc...).
        upstategreenie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rolanie3
        in other news batteries wear down in 120 heat crops dont grow without water fracking causes water to catch on f!re, pesticides in GMO foods cause cancer and other 'news'. Congress in response to all the financial armaggedon facing the country responded by going on vacation today until after the election. then they can somehow magically deal with a couple trillion auto. spending cuts kicking in Jan 1st 2013 even though they can't agree on paper or plastic...congress thinks global warming is conspiracy, pythons in everglades is good post office earning 18 billion JUST by sending junk mail NOBODY in the entire country wants is 'free market' capitalism, and will cut all soc. services for more wars for oil because just because the last decade 'freeing' oil was a total FAIL you can always try the same failed strategy over and over and over and maybe it will magically someday work based on 'beliefs' and praying a lot like GOP deals with record heat record drought etc.
        upstategreenie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rolanie3
        perception is 99% of reality but remember in US reality doesn't matter anyway.
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I thought the Leaf did not have a liquid cooled battery pack like the Volt. So by design, shouldn't it not perform well in extreme heat?
      Warren
      • 2 Years Ago
      "lithium ion phosphate chemistry seems to do well" Yes. LiFePO4 is the cheapest, safest, longest lasting chemistry for now. Which is why I selected it when I built my human/electric hybrid bicycle a year ago. I have 5500 miles so far, at 20 mph average, 11 Wh/mile, and no lose of capacity. I go 100 miles a day on 1 kilowatt hour of electricity, and recharge in 2.4 hours. When it comes to transportation, "Less is more."
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Warren
        Unfortunately Toshiba have not got around to selling their high energy density lithium titanate battery to anyone other than car manufacturers yet, but in respect of safety and cycle life there is really nothing to touch it, particularly at very high or low temperatures, not even LiFe PO4. Since they are not on general sale, the costs are unclear too: Specs here: http://www.toshiba.com/ind/data/tag_files/SCiB_Brochure_5383.pdf The car battery is the 20Ah one briefly referenced at the bottom right. Other specs save for energy density are the same as the other variants.
        GoodCheer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Warren
        Right on. Any time you're alone driving around in a 3000# vehicle, only about 6% of the energy you consume (actually ... 6% of the energy you successfully convert) is being used to transport YOU, the rest is just transporting your vehicle. How crazy is that?
          Warren
          • 2 Years Ago
          @GoodCheer
          "Any time you're alone driving around in a 3000# vehicle, only about 6% of the energy you consume (actually ... 6% of the energy you successfully convert) is being used to transport YOU, the rest is just transporting your vehicle." Yes. I have been very disappointed with the EV's, and PHEV's from the OEM's so far. The automobile has become a really stupid device. I was hoping, with the poor performance of batteries, they would feel the necessity to create something truly new. I was hoping for an Ipad, but instead we went from the manual typewriter to an electric typewriter.
          Warren
          • 2 Years Ago
          @GoodCheer
          "Any time you're alone driving around in a 3000# vehicle, only about 6% of the energy you consume (actually ... 6% of the energy you successfully convert) is being used to transport YOU, the rest is just transporting your vehicle." Yes. I have been very disappointed with the EV's, and PHEV's from the OEM's so far. The automobile has become a really stupid device. I was hoping, with the poor performance of batteries, they would feel the necessity to create something truly new. I was hoping for an Ipad, but instead we went from the manual typewriter to an electric typewriter.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @GoodCheer
          And if you weigh 300+ lbs, 10% of the energy transports the driver. Encouraging people to become fatter for transport efficiency isn't really the answer.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Warren
        I tip my hat to you. Building your own electric bike is pretty cool, bro.
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maybe Nissan could add another set of $31399 battery packs on the roof rack, to save them getting prosecuted under the trades description act in the UK for misinformation. I am sure the daft Leaf owners would cough up the extra cash.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Can you give an example of an automaker that was prosecuted under that?
          purrpullberra
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Accidentally hit - so you are 2 higher than the number you read. Sorry. You won't get any facts from him unless he has practiced how to spin some to promote his deranged point of view. You might as well ask him to be reasonable or to turn into a teacup, both impossible.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      I thought early adopters were tech savy folks. PSA- batteries don't do well in extreme temperatures.
        Nemebean
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        So what yuo're saying is that the tech savvy early adopters should have known that their cars would prematurely lose battery capacity, despite the fact that Nissan _told them_ that it would be fine? I don't think so.
        otiswild
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        Depends on the state of charge and thermal management. Volt has a somewhat narrower SoC window (like 25%-80% or so) in order to prevent battery damage due to over/under-charging, and it has a pretty extensive thermal management setup. Even though it's more expensive up-front, I think GM's decision will prove to be less expensive as far as having to replace the battery early as Volt does so much to preserve its condition.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        GM's decision to have a very oversized battery is an even better decision. 16 kwh available 10 kwh usable.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        there are knowledgeable early adopters, and there are trendy early adopters. Going mass market and selling more than a few hundred, means Nissan shifted to the latter.
      Tunagimp
      • 2 Years Ago
      Speaking as a Leaf owner from somewhere other than Arizona, I'm here to tell you it isn't just Leaves from AZ. And it probably isn't just the heat. I've lost both capacity and range but still show a full charge on the dash indicator. But my L2 home charging unit shows less and less energy being absorbed by the battery. Nissan of course, says this is normal. They have said this since I first brought this issue to their attention in September of 2011. Well done and thanks to these folks for doing what Nissan should have done in the first place. This added to the fact that many of the owners who purchased this thing with the promise of a $7500 tax credit have had their taxes "examined," the BEV ownership experience, at least for me, has not been one I care to repeat.
        Giza Plateau
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tunagimp
        How far have you driven and how much has the capacity been reduced? And what region do you live in
          Tunagimp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          I live in Northern California, Central Valley. I'm not really into measurement. All I know is I use to be able to make "Drive X" which I need to do frequently and after about three months of ownership, I needed to charge up in the middle of this drive (for and increasing amount of time--which with the Leaf's 3.3 kW on-board charger is like watching paint dry). Now I won't even attempt this drive.
        leo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tunagimp
        you knew when you got it that you were going to be a guinea pig so you can't complain much everyone had their doubts about full EV and I still think we are another 10 years if not more before EV's mature to a state where you'd have the necessary range. i'm not ready to take a chance on them just yet but I do appreciate early adopters as that the only way for this tech to move forward.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tunagimp
        " I've lost both capacity and range but still show a full charge on the dash indicator." Your dash won't lose a bar until you've lost at least 15% capacity.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tunagimp
        Are you depleting the exact same amount of kwh from your pack, as indicated by the on board meter? Have you charged on any other L2 charger? Does it also show less and less? Has Nissan looked at your home charger? I don't want to sound dismissive. Because you may indeed have a problem. But your symptoms are very different from the ones known to be heat caused. You may have something different going on with your Leaf or charger.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Based on what he said, I'm placing him over the mountain in Livermore / Pleasanton / Sacramento / Fresno. Daytime Summer Temps in that region can hit 90F for days or weeks at a time, and heat waves can drive the heat over 110F. It's not as hot as Phoenix, but it's not SeaTac by any stretch of the imagination.
        Rick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tunagimp
        What range did Nissan quote as being the range of the Leaf in Arizona in their brochures? Honda hybrid owner took them to court over false MPG claims.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rick
          1) I don't think Nissan makes brochures by state. Or any automaker for that matter. 2) The Honda case was VERY different. The claim was based on a firmware "update" that caused the battery to become less utilized in favor of longevity. Kinda like if a software upgrade would change the Leafs battery to go from its current 88% utilization, down to the Volt's 65% utilization. The Leaf battery certainly would not appear to degrade in the heat after that... because the software hided the degradation. Either way, the software change by Honda made it so the car could no longer get the EPA rating of a car without the update. So that affected ALL the Civic Hybrids equally. Not capacity loss based on environment or usage. Also, that was proven by putting the update d Civic through the official EPA test again. Nissan can still face a lawsuit.. but it will be very different. Not every Leaf owner could join, only those with proven loss, in contrast to the Honda lawsuit which included all owners.
          Tunagimp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rick
          Nissan has at least been upfront about the drawbacks. It's all right there in black and white. It was given to me to sign and I did. Without really giving it too much thought. It advises against a number of things such as driving at high speed, which for Nissan is anything over 55 mph. I have no hard feelings against Nissan. The car is quite nice. It just doesn't go very far. I'm planning a celebration when the range regularly drops to $1000/mile (A feat I have already achieved on a 80% charge on the freeway, during the winter).
      garylai
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've got 16,500 miles in 16 months with my Leaf so far here in the Seattle area. My battery capacity is about the same as the day I purchased it as far as I can tell. I can still charge to 12 bars and drive 75 miles on any day I want to. This is not a universal problem, it's specific to certain regions and how people take care of their batteries.
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