2012 Nissan Leaf
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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf
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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf
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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

  • 2012 Nissan Leaf
  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

  • 2012 Nissan Leaf
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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf
  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

  • 2012 Nissan Leaf
  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf
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  • 2012 Nissan Leaf

Yep, that ought to do it.

While the firestorm of controversy over the woes regarding the battery in the Nissan Leaf continues to rage, the company has stepped up to the inferno with a couple buckets of PR water and a promise to bring out a very large hose. According to a statement from Carla Bailo, Nissan Americas Senior vice president of research and development, everything is cool with the Leaf's battery. Mostly.

Bailo, who is, incidentally, also a Leaf driver, placed an open letter to the Leaf community on the MyNissanLeaf discussion forum. It makes two keys points:
  • The Nissan Leafs inspected in Arizona are operating to specification and their battery capacity loss over time is consistent with their usage and operating environment. No battery defects were found.
  • A small number of Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona are experiencing a greater than average battery capacity loss due to their unique usage cycle, which includes operating mileages that are higher than average in a high-temperature environment over a short period of time.
Nissan also announces the creation of an independent global advisory board – to be headed by well-known EV advocate Chelsea Sexton – to help the company with customer communications and advise them on strategy.

As one might expect from a diverse and passionate group of owners who have just been witness to some worrying independent testing, the response has been mixed. Some owners feel that their battery's capacity has been diminished more than what Nissan claims is normal and want to be "made whole." Others have expressed relief that the automaker appears to be taking their concerns seriously and becoming more involved with the owner community.

Nissan is considering a series of town hall meetings to address the issue.

The thread has also been addressed by Nissan's head of global communications, Jeff Kuhlman, who announced that Nissan vice president Andy Palmer will take questions on the issue at the Paris Motor Show this week and that Nissan is considering a series of town hall meetings.

Will it be enough to calm concerns over the actual source of the controversy: a seeming rapid decline in range with Leafs used in hot climates? We suspect not. That may require restoring range to suffering vehicles and the introduction of a warranty that actually covers some amount of range loss (currently, only battery power output loss is covered and it's unclear how little range might exist when that condition occurs). Of course, it goes without saying that the 2013 Leaf needs to demonstrate improved battery performance.

While we await more news on the situation, there is some reason to be optimistic the problem isn't as big as some have supposed. EVTV has pondered the situation and posited that some of the range reduction might be unrelated to the actual battery. Mulling over some numbers given to them from that aforementioned independent owner's tests, they believe the worst affected vehicle in that group had lots more capacity in its battery at the end of the test that just wasn't being tapped, and have suggested the problem might be down to a sensor being affected by the hot climate.

Whatever the cause, affected Leaf owners will want to see relief soon. Some have already terminated leases because of it and many are concerned about resale value, while others are, no doubt, already looking at other vehicle alternatives.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 69 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      The volt batteries have a higher discharge rating, so they can take the load. On my electric bikes, i have my battery packs designed just like this. 20C cell, and i run a 3C maximum discharge on the pack.. voltage sag is ultra low and no ambient heat is generated as a result. No problem in the heat, and performance drop below 0F is very low. So picking the right cell for the job is very important! You could also use active cooling at the expense of efficiency to cool a battery that creates waste heat though. it all comes down to the fact that Nissan did neither. And this battery pack degradation will unfortunately happen at an exponential rate rather than a linear rate due to rising internal resistance. Meaning, the battery very well may not last 5 years. If i was Nissan, i'd pull out of Arizona and Nevada markets immediately and buy these cars back. To do so would be to admit failure, but it would reduce costs for the company in the long run. Mark my words - there's gonna be problems with the battery of this car, just as there was with Honda's Civic hybrid pack. A poorly engineered battery pack will have a fraction of the life that a well engineered pack would. Unfortunately, poor engineering is the norm right now because you can claim better specifications on the window sticker. :(. GM bucks that trend right now, which is why the price of their car is higher and the specifications ( 40 miles? ) do not look impressive. The upside is that the Volt pack will last.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Firestorm?
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nissan have shifted the goalposts to get our from under on the poor hot weather degradation. They were saying that a Leaf owner could expect 8 years of average use, defined as around 12,500 miles a year, to reduce the battery capacity down to 80%, or 70% with fast charging, according to Perry: 'Nissan has said it expects to Leaf drivers to have around 70 to 80 percent capacity left in the pack after ten years. What will get drivers to the upper or lower end of that range? The amount of fast charging one does. With regular Level 2 charging, drivers should expect 80 percent live left in the battery. With a lot of Level 3 charging – two or three times a day – the pack will only be at the 70 percent level. ' http://green.autoblog.com/2010/05/27/details-on-nissan-leaf-battery-pack-including-how-recharging-sp/#thankYou Of course, if you did 20,000 miles a year you could expect the battery to be down to 80% after 5 years. But Nissan are now saying that after 5 years you can expect to be down to 80% after 5 years of average use, ie 12,500 miles a year, in any climate, not just hot ones: 'Globally, there are more than 38,000 Nissan LEAFs on the road that have travelled more than 100 million zero-emission miles, and we expect these vehicles, in normal operating conditions, to retain 80 percent of battery capacity after five years.' http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/09/nissan-20120923/comments/page/1/#comments That gives general users, not just those in Arizona, five years down to an EPA range of 60 miles. This is not a viable level of deterioration, and makes the car unsellable, never mind that in Arizona they are going to become roadside decoration even earlier. Nissan have altered their story, and a car with 60,000 miles down to 80% is a joke.
        krona2k
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        So what would the capacity be after 10 years? The degradation is not linear as I understand it and the majority of the capacity loss occurs early on?
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @krona2k
          It's pretty linear AFAIK apart form considerations of calendar life. So after another 5 years at 12,500 miles/yr I would guess around 0.8*60 range = 48 miles = 65% By that stage though by the sounds of this battery voltage might drop, so it might not work at all, so the 65% may be optimistic. And if you live in Arizona or fast charge regularly......... These figures should be taken with several shovels of salt though, as I am not an electrical engineer. What I am more comfortable assessing though is the worth of a vehicle which is likely to loose 20% or more of the capacity of the ~$10,000 battery after five years. The trade in is likely to plummet in my view, after the implications of Nissan's kindly 'clarification' are worked out.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @krona2k
          Nissan says degradation is earlier, so I'm assuming an exponential decay. DaveMart has the basic math correct for the best case of -20% per 5 years.
        garylai
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        DaveMart - I purchased my Nissan Leaf in May 2011 and they gave me an owner's manual that was first published in November 2010. The owner's manual, page 3, says the expected battery capacity is 80% in 5 years (NOT 10 years), and then goes on to list a bunch of things that can impact that number. As a Nissan Leaf owner, I don't feel like Nissan has shifted the goal posts at all. Their communication has remained consistent on this issue, and I have understood as an early adopter but also as an engineer that there are inherent risks to this technology as with any new technology. That is the cost of being at the leading edge.
      garylai
      • 2 Years Ago
      The thing I'm worried about at this point is seeing this get blown out of proportion. Nissan has always said that the average Leaf will degrade to 80% capacity in 5 years, and that certain things will make that worse than average, such as keeping the car in extreme heat. Whoever bought a Leaf and did not know that was not paying attention. When I purchased my Leaf, they even made me sign a piece of paper that acknowledged I understand the range and battery degradation issues. The bottom line here is that Arizona may just not be a good place for battery powered vehicles of any kind, even those with range extenders. But the Arizona climate is not the entire world climate and there is no reason that people in the vast majority of the US or the world should think they will be worse than 80% capacity after 5 years. In fact, if you live in a more temperate climate and do not abuse the battery, you will probably do better. I've had my Leaf for 17 months and 16,500 miles now. I live in the Seattle area. Summertime temperatures are usually in the 80s here, and I park the car outside during the day in the full sun and in the garage at night. I always try to keep the car between 2-10 bars on the battery gauge out of 12 (which is fine for my normal 45-mile round trip commute), but there have been some times I've went outside that. To date, I have not seen any range degradation at all, and I've been tracking it daily. I think I'm more of a normal market use case.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @garylai
        They said 8-10 years of use to 70-80% capacity at depending on how much fast charging was used at an average mileage of 12,500 miles a year. Reference: http://green.autoblog.com/2010/05/27/details-on-nissan-leaf-battery-pack-including-how-recharging-sp/#thankYou Please provide your link to where they said 5 years, unless they were doing 20,000 miles a year.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Anything worse then 80% in 10 years means they need to rethink the design, in my book.
          garylai
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          DaveMart - Not sure if my prior reply posted because I cannot see it, but short answer is that the 80% capacity in 5 years is right in the Nissan Leaf owner's manual, page 3.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Gary: Very many thanks for the definitive link. It is interesting that as a close follower of vehicle electrification I, and the many people I have communicated with over the last few years, should have remained unaware of this, and my understanding was based on a service life of around 100,000 miles based on the comments of Nissan themselves. At a 60,000 mile average service life before the ~$10,000 component is reduced to 80% nominal I have no hesitation in saying that the vehicle is entirely uneconomic. Not only does that work out at around 16 cents/mile in depreciation, but the resale value of the car will be negligible. Of course in mild climates those who are not fussy about going far at all will be able to struggle on, perhaps for ten years, but OTOH in climates such as Arizona maybe 3 years and 37,500 miles is to be expected. This is absolutely crazy.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          I accept that the Leaf will still be usable for some people even after the range drops, and if you want to talk about actual rational worth it is true that it could provide transport at low fuel costs. However, once a car gets a bad reputation, the values plummet far below the rational price. We have all seen that happen, perhaps most generally in the drop in SUV values when petrol reached a high. They dropped so far below 'economy' cars that the extra fuel costs would have been easily covered. As the penny drops about the heat effects in Arizona, I would imagine that that will be the thing that sticks in people's heads, not just the real and substantial degradation elsewhere. Unless Nissan takes drastic action it seems likely to me that car lots are pretty well going to refuse to accept them in part exchange. Even if that doesn't happen and prices remain rational, depreciation will be immense.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          The Leaf has a high starting price... so the depreciation will be immense... but still manageable. It was optimistic (I'm guilty) to think that overall, compared to a similar vehicle, the Leaf would make a profit for the first owner. It is close, but most will probably lose some money. The real benefit might be the used car buyer who needs a 50 mile BEV as a second car. A new Leaf is too much for most people as a second car, but a used one might be great. I still think the act of reducing oil consumption and emissions... is worth the extra price. It is a statement worth making even though many cannot afford to make it. I pay extra to run on biodiesel. The same cost per gallon as Dyno diesel, but I have to drive out of my way, store the B100 in drums on a trailer, and store the trailer in lot. So overall, I am paying for being a bit greener. But I like the smell of fries, so it's worth it. :)
          garylai
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          DaveMart Uhhh...it's in my 2011 Nissan Leaf Owner's Manual, page 3. You can download it here: http://www.nissanusa.com/apps/techpubs?model=Nissan+LEAF&year=2011 Here is what it says. "The capacity of the Li-ion battery in your vehicle to hold a charge will, like all such batteries, decrease with time and usage. As the battery ages and capacity decreases, this will result in a decrease from the vehicle’s initial mileage range. This is normal, expected, and not indicative of any defect in your Li-ion battery. NISSAN estimates that battery capacity will be approximately 80% of original capacity after five years, although this is only an estimate, and this percentage may vary (and could be significantly lower) depending on individual vehicle and Li-ion battery usage."
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          " the resale value of the car will be negligible." No, it'll just be very low. A 50-mile BEV isn't a bad idea for a city car. Heck, even 25-40 would be fine for that role. The issue is that short range BEVs don't list at $37k. Basically, it will get hammered on residuals, but that's a far cray from neglible and worthless.
        Dave R
        • 2 Years Ago
        @garylai
        Seattle (or anywhere else in the Pacific NW) is an ideal location for EVs. Only thing better would be less precipitation, but the cool weather up there is great for battery life. You'll probably see around half the capacity loss of most California residents over time and less than a quarter of the capacity loss of most Arizona residents.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @garylai
        If they really degraded 4.5% annually, to 80% in 5 years, I don't think there would be any complaints. However, people are already below 80% today, well under 2 years in. That's a problem, no?
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @garylai
        " I think I'm more of a normal market use case." You are not. The bulk of USDM Leaf were sold in in California / Arizona, not Seattle / Boston. Their temps are higher, and we can expect degradation 2x or 3x as fast as normal. Basically anything below Oregon / NYC will see 1.5x to 2x degradation, and SoCal to Texas will be 2.5x or worse.
        Smurf
        • 2 Years Ago
        @garylai
        The main reason I disagree is because the Toyota Prius has been here in Phoenix for 10 years plus, and thanks to a battery cooling system, Prius owners are not seeing battery degradation. I think the bottom line is that you "can" have EV's/hybrids in Arizona as long as you have a quality battery cooling system.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      So, if I understand correctly, Nissan is going to give affected and concerned owners a chance to vent in person at a couple Nissan-sponsored "Town Hall" events? Wow, I'm sure that's exactly what owners were hoping for. A chance for a handful of them to personally verbalize the problems that they've already documented en masse and presented to Nissan. And poor Chelsea Sexton, who appears to be set up here. She'll take the hit as the messenger of bad news to the owners, rather than the Nissan SVPs actually responsible and accountable for the problem. I hope she's getting paid a lot to throw her fellow EV pals under the bus, because I couldn't do without a big, fluffy pile of money to help me sleep at night, that I could then see behind me as I looked in the mirror.
      Tysto
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ralph Nader has already started writing "Slightly Disappointing at Any Speed"! Seriously, tho, I think Nissan will make this right, and Leaf owners will eventually be proud to have been on the bleeding edge.
      JakeY
      • 2 Years Ago
      @2 Wheeled Menace There's no evidence GM is expanding the SOC window as the battery ages, but if they do, I doubt it would be very noticeable given they are only using 65% as a SOC window.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thanks 2WM. I am no electrical engineer, so your knowledge is appreciated.
      Smurf
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sounds just like Honda's response for the Honda Civic Hybrid II. Degradation was not considered a failure condition worthy of replacing the battery. The battery had to literally stop holding a charge before they would replace it under warranty. Leaf batteries are still charging, and Nissan is taking the same stance. Mileage dropping from 42 mpg to 35 mpg on the Honda HCH II also wasn't enough for a warranty replacement of the battery, so loss of EV range probably won't get you a new Leaf battery either until it becomes excessive.
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      We seem to lack hard data on whether this is user fault, battery indicator or actual battery degradation. Charge the car up, read the individual cell voltages, run it down and read again. If the individual voltages do indeed go from high to low, say 4.0 to 3.0V on a reduced range then there is a problem with the battery. It's possible it could be a single cell dipping down. A battery pack is normally limited by the weakest link so one bad cell will block all of them. Nissan's handling so far is not credible and it is probably a mistake to leave customers with a very expensive dying vehicle. It would also be useful to get statistical data from cooler region owners if any of them are losing a bar or two. It might be more complicated that simply thermal aging.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gary: I accept that Nissan gave the details of expected wear in the manual. However, it is also true that Nissan repeatedly referred to 100,000 miles in their discussions. I seriously doubt that many of the people who bought the car were fully aware that deterioration under normal use would be so fast, even though the manual states it. However, although eventually if you dig deep enough it is clear that Nissan provided accurate information, however few people would actually have read the manual before purchase, it is equally clear that the same people are now stuck with a car which is in the process of acquiring a terrible reputation, and even apart from the thousands of dollars needed after just a few years for a new battery will have a shocking resale value. You may be a considerable engineer, but I would suggest that if you bought it with your eyes wide open on the expected battery life, your financial expertise is more questionable. Anyway, many thanks for the excellent information you have provided, and I hope that you do not drop too much on the car.
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      What firestorm? Just don't like the Leaf period, l am not that bothered about their battery problems l would never buy one period l don't do boring dull and anodyne cars, l would rather go without save up a bit more and buy a proper car i.e a Tesla. Thats a nice Art Deco building.
        noevfud
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Clearly you are an expect on aesthetics based on your knowledge of basic architecture. Too funny.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Personal like and dislikes are not the subject of this article. Reliability of the batter pack is.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Not sure which building you're referring to, but FYI, none of the buildings pictured above would qualify as Art Deco.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick
        That's not Art Deco, it's Bauhaus.
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