According to a local television report, owners Nissan Leaf EVs have gotten Nissan to buy back their cars after losing significant amounts of range in just a short time of ownership. This does not bode well for Nissan’s grand EV plans.
Despite what some of you may think, I am a Nissan fan. I’ve owned two Nissan vehicles, and both got me well past 200,000 miles. But I feel a certain obligation to report both the ups and downs of electric vehicles, and the Nissan Leaf is suffering some pretty serious setbacks…and this latest one really hurts.
This is all the result of independent tests by Leaf owners demonstrating a serious loss of battery capacity after relatively little time and mileage, well within Nissan’s own parameters. While on one hand, problems such as this are to be expected in first-generation technology like this. On the other hand, Nissan made the conscious decision to forgo liquid cooling in favor of a big fan. Both General Motors and Tesla Motors use liquid-cooled battery packs. It’s becoming apparent why.
Scott Yarosh told CBS5 in Phoenix that after Nissan took his car in to test its battery for capacity loss, he turned the car in (for a new car? The report doesn’t say) that cost him $700. Nissan then gave him a full refund on the fees, though other owners looking to offload their cars are reportedly getting refunds based on mileage and when they log complaints. In other words, the sooner you turn your Leaf in, the more money you get back. There are about 400 Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona, and Nissan is reportedly mulling the idea of ceasing sales of the Leaf in hotter climates.
This is bad. There really is no other way to put it. Granted, these issues are relegated to the blistering heat of Arizona, which along with much of the rest of the country suffered record-breaking heat day after day this summer. But the rapid loss of capacity left some Leaf owners with as little as 42 miles on a full charge. After less than 2 years on the market, that is a huge reduction in range from the EPA-rated 73 miles. Nissan’s “blame it on the heat and mileage” line of reasoning didn’t sit too well with Leaf owners either it seems.
Other Leaf owners in milder climates aren’t experiencing the same issues, at least at this time. But it seems Nissan’s decision to go with an air-cooled battery is really biting them in the ass. Hopefully Nissan doesn’t make the same mistake with their next-gen Leaf model.