2012 Nissan Leaf
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The plot thickens on the health and durability of the Nissan Leaf's battery pack. A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court by a Leaf owner accusing Nissan of covering up the electric vehicle's range reality. California plaintiff Humberto Klee says Nissan is advertising the Leaf as being able to drive up 100 miles on a charge, depending on variables such as road conditions and weather, but Klee alleges that Nissan has not been honest about the car's real-world range.

According to the suit, Nissan's advertised driving range is based on the vehicle's performance only after charging the battery to 100-percent capacity. Yet the suit says Nissan tells owners not to do so because that kind of charging could cause battery damage. The lawsuit, known as Humberto Daniel Klee, et al. v. Nissan North America, Inc., et al., has been filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division. The crux of it can be found online (here in PDF) and reads, in part:

Before purchase or lease, Nissan failed to disclose its own recommendations that owners avoid charging the battery beyond 80% in order to mitigate battery damage and failed to disclose that Nissan's estimated 100 mile range was based on a full charge battery, which is contrary to Nissan's own recommendation for battery charging.

But wait, there's more. The lawsuits also claims Nissan failed to disclose or intentionally neglected to reveal a design defect in the Leaf's battery system that causes the Leaf to suffer "widespread, severe and premature loss of driving range, battery capacity and battery life."

The class actions lawsuit is being brought on behalf of a proposed class of all California and Arizona consumers who purchased or leased any Model Year 2011 or 2012 Nissan Leaf hatchback, even though the actual numbers (thus far) of affected "wilting" Leafs in Arizona has been small. Plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that Nissan must remove and replace battery systems with a suitable alternative product, reform its battery warranty, cover the loss of battery capacity under warranty and reimburse class members for any repairs made.

Nissan's response is that the lawsuit "lacks merit," and the automaker is standing by both the battery and how it has marketed and explained the Leaf to buyers. The company's official statement, provided to AutoblogGreen and available below, expresses regret "that a very small number of LEAF owners are dissatisfied." Nissan also concedes that EVs might not be right for everyone, "But if you're determined to have minimal impact on the environment then an all-electric vehicle remains the only pathway to zero-emissions mobility."

Stay tuned for more as this story develops.
Show full PR text

Nissan Statement:

Nissan is aware of the filing of a lawsuit by two Nissan LEAF owners. We believe the lawsuit lacks merit.

We stand by our breakthrough technology and the world's best-selling electric vehicle. We also acknowledge and are grateful to our customers who have chosen to embark on a zero-emission leadership path with us.

In bringing this exciting new technology to market, Nissan has sought to educate the public and potential purchasers about the unique operating characteristics of an electric vehicle. Nissan has provided information on how the vehicle works, its estimated range, and factors that can affect both range and battery life through many sources, including the Nissan LEAF website, owner's manual and detailed written disclosure.

While Nissan regrets that a very small number of LEAF owners are dissatisfied, Nissan stands behind its product and consumers, and remains committed to electric vehicle technology. Globally, more than 38,000 LEAFs are on the road and have travelled collectively more than 100 million zero-emission miles. In fact, LEAF customers are some of Nissan's most satisfied. Just as a pickup truck or a sports car isn't right for every customer, an electric vehicle may not be right for a specific customer. But if you're determined to have minimal impact on the environment then an all-electric vehicle remains the only pathway to zero-emissions mobility.


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  • 137 Comments
      noevfud
      • 2 Months Ago
      The pack in the Volt is pack of the emissions system and the LEAF is not, this is why the Volt uses less battery capacity, so it can be released over time to keep the battery capacity in warranty. Here is how you define an EV VS a serial hybrid, if the pack is not part of the emissions system it is a pure EV.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Months Ago
      I suppose you're right. But does 'truth' usually come out in lawsuits like these? I just hope for some precedence that forces all EV automakers to make specific warranty statements, rather than the vague.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      So Nissan says you should only charge to 80% and yet doesn't even have a mode to stop charging at 80% for you? Tesla quotes range at 100% but says don't charge to 100%, but at least they have a mode to stop charging at 80% automatically.
        Dave R
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        The LEAF most certainly has a mode to charge to 80% by default. But it's not turned on by default. And you have to set a charge timer to do it. And overriding the charge timer makes the car charge to 100%.
          answerinmachine3
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Dave R
          So the LEAF has a mode to charge to 80% by default...but its not on by default? Sounds like an 80% charge is not on by default then...
        Jim McL
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        That is not the only area where Tesla clearly gets it and nobody else does. Tesla also warns you every time that you select Range Mode that it is hard on the battery.
      EV News
      • 2 Years Ago
      The shake down continues ... sponsored by the OIL LOBBY continues..! This is becoming a pathetic side show!
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Months Ago
        @EV News
        Seriously, tinfoil beanie was so last year's fashion.
        Spec
        • 2 Months Ago
        @EV News
        Conjuring conspiracy theories will not help EVs. Solid data is needed to support any allegation.
      EV News
      • 2 Years Ago
      The shake down continues ... sponsored by the OIL LOBBY continues..! This is becoming a pathetic side show!
        Grendal
        • 2 Months Ago
        @EV News
        So you're implying that these early adopters that are seeing a drop in range have been co-opted by the oil lobby? Conspiracies are BS. The President of the US (arguably the most powerful person on the planet) couldn't get a BJ in the oval office without the rest of the world finding out and you think that the oil lobby can pay off a bunch of people without the rest of us finding out. Romney was just caught on tape calling half of the US lazy, good for nothings. You don't think an environmentalist would love to get an oil lobbyist on tape giving a pay off to them to "kill the EV program." It didn't happen.
      EV News
      • 2 Years Ago
      The shake down ... sponsored by the OIL LOBBY continues..! This is becoming a pathetic side show!
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Months Ago
        @EV News
        Sorry, but this is a conspiracy-free zone. Take off your tinfoil beanie before posting.
      • 2 Months Ago
      Imagine any other car company settling with disgruntled owners within a matter of a few months, out of court, without needing any lawyers or lawsuits. And consider that the complaint of those AZ owners was that the battery capacity had prematurely degraded when battery caapacity is not even warrantied by Nissan. That is, under the 'lemon law' only things that are non-conforming with a WARRANTY are eligible, so Nissan could have won if they had been sued under the lemon law. I say kudos to Nissan for bringing this electric car technology to the mass market and for allowing customers, who probably simply made a mistake in their determination that an electric car would fit their needs, to return their vehicles for a refund! Consider how long it took Ford to acknowledge roll-over dangers in their SUV's, or more recently, Toyota to acknowledge the had accelerator problems. I look forward to aa forensic technical dissection of the returned Leafs by Nissan and thier independent analysts and the details of what, if anything, in those Leafs was at fault.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Months Ago
      The Decay: The original 100 mile claim was done by Nissan during the initial testing and roll out. Since CARB awards ZEV credits based on 100, 200, 300 miles on the UDDS (LA-4), it was important for automakers to strive for those goals, using that drive cycle test. Nissan has always disclaimed that the 100 mile range was achieved on the LA-4 test. Auto Magazines and Blogs, recycled and regurgitated every press release, but Headlines sells and sensationalism even more. "100 MILE ELECTRIC VEHICLE" was the tagline, and the largely unknown and confusing EPA LA-4 drive cycle became part of the small print in most articles about the Nissan Leaf. The EPA tests the Leaf on the more realistic 5 cycle test, and give it only 73 miles. Disappointment abounds. Now, having forgotten what and why all of this happened... Attorneys have hijacked their disappointment and now try to literally make a federal case out of it (well, state).. The lawsuit makes no mention of EPA tests of any kind. And does not mention that the sticker says 73 miles. Every Leaf was purchased with that sticker!
      John R
      • 2 Months Ago
      I agree with Nissan that this lawsuit lacks merit. The one thing I think they did right is the powertrain. If I was going to sue Nissan regarding the Leaf, I'd sue them for the brakes that go clunk when you enter the car and never stop in a predictable manner, the nav system that takes you miles from your destination, the throttle's runaway acceleration due to a bug in the power-ramping software, the annoying nag-screen that appears every single time the car is turned on, the totally non-intuitive controls, the inability to completely turn off the heater when the fan is turned on, the too-sensitive suspension tuning that makes the car into a top that wobbles back and forth incessantly when turning once the tires have any wear whatsoever. And other peculiar behaviors. But I wouldn't sue them over the battery or motor - the powertrain - which is the one thing they did right.
      GasMan
      • 2 Months Ago
      We thought all Leaf owners were Vegans but now we find they are eating their own.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Months Ago
      More that GM designs cars for America - Alaska, Hawaii, Death Valley, Arizona, Miami, Maine, and all points in-between. Fun fact: gas struts spec'd for a quick opening trunk in Alaska will practically take your head off in Death Valley.
      GoodCheer
      • 2 Months Ago
      As our resident right wing extremist, you should really be up on these things. ;)
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