Is Hot Weather Killing The Nissan Leaf Battery Faster Than Advertised?


Nissan rankled a lot of feathers when it announced that its first electric vehicle, the Leaf would have an air-cooled battery pack. Now that decision may come back to haunt Nissan. This past weekend a group of Leaf owners conducted a test proving that Leaf battery pack is losing range at a more rapid rate than advertised.

A group of Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona had begun reporting that their Leaf electric cars were showing less and less range on the battery bar gauge. Nissan claimed this was an issue with the gauge, not the battery, prompting a dozen Leaf owners to conduct a private investigation. Controlling for things like air conditioning, speed, and wind resistance, the Nissan Leaf owners all had varying degrees of battery bar loss. Their aim was to prove that the battery packs are in fact losing range at a much more rapid rate than Nissan is letting on.

The results are clear. While the newer Leafs that still had 11 of the 12 bars on the battery gauge managed between 73 and 80 miles, in line with EPA estimates, six Leafs with just 10 bars only managed 72 miles. Meanwhile, the Leaf that had lost 4 of the 12 bars, or 33% of its battery life, managed to make it just 59 miles before the battery pack declared itself totally empty.

Furthermore, not a single Leaf owner in the Phoenix, Arizona area reported 100% battery capacity, including a car that was just a month old.

This is a huge, and I mean huge problem for Nissan, especially since they recently doubled down on the issue and declared the battery gauge to be at fault. While the decision to go for an air-cooled battery no doubt helped keep costs down, it does not appear to be sufficient for dealing with the extreme high temperatures in areas like Arizona. Just wait until conservatives get their hands on this info…

Any Leaf owners experiencing similar battery loss issues? Or is this an issue isolated to Arizona?

Source: Inside EVs | My Nissan Leaf

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Arthur buonamia

    I have two leafs, one in Washington state one in cape coral Florida, so far both are doing fine, haven’t noticed any battery decline.

  • Near Austin Texas, my 15 month old Leaf with 18k miles now has a range of about 75 miles, down from 90-95 miles.

    I am down one “bar”. I am suspicious that Nissan has provided us such crappy instrumentation just to obscure such problems.

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  • Scott

    I have about 24K miles on my 2011 Leaf and just last weekend drove 90 miles on a 100% charge, with 1 hour of L2 charging in the middle and arrived home with 2 bars and 13 miles of range remaining so I think I could have made the drive without charging. The drive included about 50 miles of freeway and four hill climbs so the car was not babied. I still have 12 bars of capacity and as far as I can tell have exactly the same range as when the car was new. I am fortunate enough to live in the SF Bay Area and so the car has seen a rather mild climate for the 18 months I’ve been driving it.

    • We have a 2011 leaf that was purchased in January of 2012. The battery this summer peaked out at 85-95 miles during the hot weather in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Now at the end of September the temperatures have droped back into the high 70’s to the low 90’s the battery is charging back to the full 100+ miles. It looks like the hot weather does affect the charge but it also looks like the max charge will vary with the outside temperature.

      • Were you running AC as well? It seems like the HVAC systems really drain batteries.

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  • Bill Berndt

    First off, I’m in Southern California. I have a 2012 Leaf with 7,600 miles. On Monday I got 99.8 miles with a combination of 60 MPH freeway driving (approx. 15 miles) and the balance stop and go (approx. 22-25 MPH average). I did not run the A/C or heating unit much to the chagrin of my girlfriend. When I run the HVAC and travel freeway miles to work… about 55 -65 mile range MAX.

    I also have a BMW Active E with a larger battery pack and I take that car for longer runs. It is extremely heavy so it actually does better with moderate highway running versus stop and go travel. Although the Leaf is quicker off the line in D mode, the BMW rides and handles like a BMW (albeit a VERY heavy BMW). But that ride and handling are what makes it so amazingly fun.

    Lastly, I have a Tesla Model S coming next month so I look forward to the longer range and lightening speed. My test drive in that car sold me. It is smokin’ fast. If I drive my Tesla all the time like I drove the test Model S, I’ll probably see my EPA range of 265 drop to 125. Haha. But that will be well worth it!