For Arizona LEAF Owners, Selling Is No Longer an Option

By · September 22, 2012

Scott With LEAF

Scott Yarosh used to be a proud LEAF driver, until the car lost so much range that he could no longer complete his daily 45-mile commute.

Though several LEAF owners have succeeded in selling their vehicles in the wake of overwhelming evidence that the car frequently experiences rapid battery degradation in warmer climates, others haven't been so lucky. Over the last two weeks I've spoken to several frustrated LEAF owners in the Phoenix area who have tried to no avail to sell or trade their cars back to the dealerships they bought them from. In some cases, dealerships told them that they are unwilling to purchase any used LEAFs because to date, Nissan has offered no assurance that the problem will be remedied.

I called ten Arizona Nissan dealerships this week in an attempt to verify these claims. Several salesmen told me they had never heard of the battery degradation issue. Those that acknowledged the problem all stated a willingness to accept trade-ins on the LEAF—though none were able to say that they'd purchased one within the last month. A salesman at Avondale Nissan enthusiastically told me that he'd love to have more used LEAFs on his lot, and encouraged me to send any disaffected owners his way.

But the testimonials of the owners I've spoken to paint a very different picture. One driver—who requested to remain anonymous for fear of compromising his chances at a settlement with Nissan—claimed to have received a maximum offer of just $14,000 for his car, which he has owned for less than a year. According to this owner, Coulter Nissan expressed no interest whatsoever in purchasing the car, while Chandler Power Nissan told him "there is no resale market for [the LEAF] at this point."

Another owner in the Phoenix area (who also requested to remain anonymous) told me he sold his car in July because of noticeable range loss after just 9 months of ownership and 8,000 miles. After struggling to find a reasonable offer from a dealership, he was finally able to unload his car for $19,000—roughly half of what he paid for it.

Michael Rabara, a former owner (and now lesee) who I quoted in my previous post about this issue, says he sold his car for about $25,000 back in June. Today, a car with similar mileage in the Phoenix area is selling for just $21,539 on Cars.com.

Last night I spoke to Scott Yarosh, who broke his lease on Saturday after losing enough range that he could no longer complete his daily 45-mile commute. Scott lost four bars of charge capacity, diminishing his range to just 42 miles. He paid a penalty of nearly $700 to get out of his lease.

Thankfully, in perhaps the first bit of good news to come out of this story, Scott recently received a phone call from Nissan's dispute resolution team offering to reimburse the penalty. Despite the refund, he still has a bad taste in his mouth about the experience. "As it is right now, I will never own another Nissan again unless they really go above and beyond to help the other owners out." The day before breaking his lease, Scott purchased a Volkswagen TDI, which he runs on biodiesel.

Still No Relief From Nissan

Given the drastically lowered resale value of the LEAF in Arizona, owners in the area have limited options. The fate of their ownership experiences—and the substantial investments they made to help support the adoption of EVs—are in the Nissan's hands.

When we reached out to the carmaker for comment last week, we received the following statement via email:

"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."

The communication closely resembles the same statement Nissan has been issuing since these battery issues first started to receive press attention several months ago. Despite the company's promises to resolve the situation, the lack of specifics or willingness to share any of their findings thus far have understandably led owners to panic—threatening to impede the momentum of the greater vehicle electrification movement.

UPDATE (09/23/12): Nissan has released an open letter to the LEAF community. You can find it posted at the MyNissanLEAF forums here.

Yesterday, Green Car Reports posted an interview with Nissan's Mark Perry about the degradation issue. In it, Perry states that the common thread connecting the seven cases it has investigated is that the cars in question had all accumulated more than 19,000 miles over the course of a year—significantly more than the 12,500 miles Nissan says it estimated the average LEAF would be driven each year. It should be noted however that there are also multiple claims of battery loss from drivers who have accumulated less than 12,500 miles, including a driver I spoke to in the above post, who says he experienced noticeable capacity loss after just 8,000 miles of ownership.

Comments

· Lad (not verified) · 4 years ago

I would think by now thar one would have learned not to accept a car dealer's word or opinion as worthy of print. Of course there is a market for used Leafs...one doesn't need to buy and sell a used car through a dealer...and, the price is all in the speculation, just as it is in all pricing.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 4 years ago

In terms of resale value it should be kept in mind that for now, the federal and various state tax credits factor in to determining the real value of the Leaf in resale. If an owner has had his vehicle long enough to use the credits his actual cost is at minimum $7,500 below the original purchase price. Arizona has not offered significant tax incentives for alternative fuel vehicles as have other states. Less the federal credit, the original purchase price of the vehicle would be around $26,000. A real sale price of a used Leaf of $25,000 is actually a pretty good resale value for the owner. For anyone to assume that they should be able to pocket that tax credit and then resell the vehicle for anything close to the original purchase price is a bit foolish. While there may be issues particular to the desert southwest with regard to electric vehicles, these would be problems for all makes of all-electric vehicles in that area. The larger market does not experience similar problems. Here in Oregon and the West Coast in general, battery capacity has not been an issue. Nissan battery testing at 10,000 miles showed expected battery performance for my Leaf with daily driving and recharging.

· CharlesF (not verified) · 4 years ago

@Anonymous, I disagree with your statement that all EVs in the desert southwest would have the same problems. The different EVs have different batteries and more important different thermal management systems. If I lived in Phoenix and really wanted a pure EV, I would be trading in my Leaf for a Focus, because of its liquid thermal management system.

· · 4 years ago

Nissan tried to cut corners, by eliminating liquid cooling, and now it is coming back to haunt them. Some people on this forum even ballyhood their decision to eliminate liquid cooling as "one less thing to go wrong" compared to an ICE. Great, except for the most important part involved, the batteries. Nissan also obviously cut corners on their hot weather testing, or this problem would have shown up in testing, and been avoided at the customer level. Shame on Nissan. I wonder how many corners they cut with testing their other cars. I would be very leery of buying a Nissan anything.

Fortunately, other manufacturers of BEVs such as GM and Ford heat and cool their batteries, for obvious reasons.

· · 4 years ago

This is all very demoralizing, at least for this strong plug-in advocate. It feeds the critics and it turns off even the strongest EV advocates from the LEAF, and possibly even from pure EVs in general (GM's licking its chops, I bet). About 1 1/2 years ago I thought we'd be in a LEAF right now, but unusual personal circumstances have forced us to put off plug-in plans for another 2 years.

I was truly bummed about not being able to be part of the movement, and not being able to tap into the 10,000 extra banked solar kWh our 5.59 kW home system has produced in the past two years (our solar PV system is producing 200% of our electric use right now because we didn't end up getting the EV when I thought we would have by now).

But now I'm kind of glad we couldn't follow through and get that LEAF I so much wanted. I would've bought it, not leased, though, now, if we could move on an EV, and we moved on a LEAF (I don't think I'd pick a LEAF now), I would definitely lease, not buy.

If a huge, gung-ho EV advocate like me, has seriously cold feet on the LEAF, I can only imagine what the LEAF looks like now to the average consumer (though he/she might not yet know about the battery capacity loss issue). Not good, not good at all for the EV movement ...

· iletric (not verified) · 4 years ago

Thanks, Bejamin, for the informative link. What I would do myself or tell Nissan tech team in AZ, studying my car, is: fill'er up and drive 73 miles at 65 mph. And see how far you get. Bad gauges or not, in a couple of hours you'll know exactly what the capacity loss is. Period.

That is exactly what my range is.

What I do these days is, I zero the trip meter after 100% charge and keep a keen eye on the miles covered + miles on the GOM = 73 or thereabouts (on the flat surface away from hills). And I know exactly what my remaining range is or if there is a capacity loss.

And I praise the lord there is none so far. (Marin Co.) FYI: we charge 100% every night, 18 months, 26,500 miles.

· · 4 years ago

@Christian Dement,
It's too bad Nissan appears to have messed up the Leaf so badly and how this damages the reputation of EVs in general. I encourage you to keep saving your money for a good EV such as the Tesla Model S, built by a smart company devoted to making EVs a success.
Take comfort in the fact that the Leaf only appears to have shortcomings in extremely hot areas of the planet such as AZ. Personally, even though I and some others do ok in extreme heat, I see AZ as being essentially uninhabitable for humans if we didn't have air conditioning. Therefore, it is not particularly surprising that technologies that do fine in places where humans are comfortable also require air conditioning to perform nominally.
If you don't live in AZ and can live with less range than Nissan originally led us to believe, the Leaf seems to be working just fine.
I can see how a future AZ-tolerant Leaf might need to be plugged in much of the time or have extensive insulation and sophisticated active thermal control of the battery.
As with all pioneering endeavors, there will be setbacks on the journey. We just need to learn from our experiences and adapt. I hope Nissan is doing so. If not, I'm sure that since it is part of our heritage, American companies will.

· volt owner (not verified) · 4 years ago

The way I look at it, these are all pluses for the volt. Even when the range on the battery does eventually happen, and so far at 20,000 miles, I still get over 40 miles per charge every day, the volt will just transition over to gas a little bit sooner. 10 years from now I willl have a 10 year old car with virually no miles on the engine, and it will be good to go for many more years even after the battery is totally worn out. But we all know by that time there will be reasonable recycled batteries available anyway.
Drive a smart EV, drive a Volt.

· · 4 years ago

Thanks, ilectric. I posted that link quickly this afternoon, as I appears to be additional information that wasn't available for Zach's article. Note, in the extensive reader comments below John Voelcker's article, that Nissan still hasn't really addressed the issue with the sort of candor that is really needed, but they're at least talking with customers who had their vehicles at the Casa Grande test facility. Obviously, it's an evolving story.

Even though it's maximum north/south extension is 395 miles and elevation in populated areas range from 70 to 7,000 feet above sea level, some casually assume (and, apparently, Nissan's engineers were also in this camp) that Arizona is one large land mass with pretty much the same climate throughout. Not so. It's now apparent that Nissan just took the highest daytime temperatures from around the state, added 'em up, divided by the number of entries to obtain an average and then designed a battery enclosure to that specification. Big mistake.

Phoenix, geographically just south of central and at around 1,100 feet above sea level, is one of the hottest areas in the state. If there is going to be a heat issue with batteries, it will show up there first and foremost. Even though the daytime high there might be "only" 115° on any given summer afternoon, the temperature of blacktop radiating ambient heat back to the underside of the car would certainly be well beyond the 130°-140° threshold Nissan claims its pack are not going to tolerate.

Tucson, 100 miles to the south of Phoenix, but higher above sea level (2,400 feet,) is almost always 10° cooler in daytime year round and, because there' s less asphalt for a heat island effect, it cools off far quicker and more effectively on summer nights. Following the worst heat days, Phoenix might be still well above 100° at 11PM, when it's only around 80° down here. Yes, percentage wise, we've had fewer heat depletion issues for Tucson Leafs than in Phoenix. The 10° difference by day could explain some of it. But so could the 20° or greater difference at night.

I'll be very interested to see what the new (US manufacture 2013 model) Leaf's battery will be composed of. Hitachi cells, apparently, are part of the mix. The claim there is greater durability and energy density (the latter explaining the increased range they're promising.) It's obvious, though, that putting cooling fans back in the pack (they were there in the prototype but, apparently, gone in the production vehicle) will be a bare minimum. But getting customer confidence back will probably dictate liquid cooling.

Rumors elsewhere state that Nissan already has a liquid cooled pack design for a possible Leaf sales launch in the Saudi Arabian desert. If that's true, they just need to make it standard equipment for all their subsequent packs - regardless of where they are to be sold - overbuild accordingly and simply move beyond this current PR mess.

Meanwhile, the only populated place of any notable size in Arizona that regularly gets hotter than Phoenix is Yuma, right on the California and Mexican borders. It's comforting to know that Chevrolet is testing their Spark EV prototypes out there. Likewise, the Spark EV is rumored to be using the A123 LiFePO4 EXT cells, which are touted to be resistant enough to heat as to not require any sort of thermal management. Is it possible to design a battery with chemistry robust enough to survive the hottest places on the planet without this protection? I guess we'll find out, as I haven't seen anything in the Spark EV's advance promotion to indicate that the battery will be liquid cooled.

· · 4 years ago

@volt owner,
Thanks for the smug, yet unhelpful comments. While the Volt does appear to have a better thermal management system for its battery than the Leaf, this doesn't prove GM has solved the problem of high temperatures and Li-ion batteries. The Volt has about the same amount of battery mass as the Leaf, they only give you access to a small part of it. Therefore, you actually have no clue how much damage has being done to it. You won't find out for a few years when your AER range drops. I hope it does not happen but you aren't nearly as smart as you think you are.
You're smug, self-satisfied comment: "Drive a smart EV, drive a Volt." could just as well be "Drive a smart car, drive an ICE. " or "Drive smart, get a horse.".
You really aren't helping anything or anybody since we all know that proven technology will have fewer unknown issues than new technology. At least the Leaf owners had the guts to try something new. That's more than I can say for you.

· · 4 years ago

Now getting on to the Leaf and past the unhelpful Volt owners . . .
It is interesting that Nissan's best defense seems to be that " 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. "
I wonder if Nissan would be willing to provide those "specifications" and the data that ". . . their battery capacity loss over time . . . " and " . . . their usage and operating environment. are consistent with.
Its sad when they sold cars that they claimed would go 100 miles on a charge under some narrow set of operating conditions if they knew that there was a lot of variation on performance outside of that narrow set of conditions. They are, however, being obnoxious when all they can do after the cars quit doing what they claimed they could is have some corporate wonk say that the cars are performing exactly as they had always expected them to.
I hope that Chelsea's independent team can get to the bottom of the issues. Perhaps an independent lab such as "Consumer's Reports" can do a detailed study on the Leaf's actual performance envelope so that well-intentioned AZ consumers will know what they can expect BEFORE buying the cars.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 4 years ago

Thanks for the information. I live in Houston and have lost 2 bars in15,000 miles over 13 months. After done my battery check, the technician told me the degrading was normal. He has services 4-5 Leafs in the past few months with one bar missing. I think this heat problem is affecting all southern states. AZ is just more severe. I believe all Nissan Leaf owns understand the degrading but not like this way. We "Trusted" Nissan's statement about 80% capacity retained at 5 years and 70% at 8-10 years. Even with one lost bar, the "Trust" has been broken. I don't think 'Our next battery will be better" can win any trust from people understand Nissan's current battery issue. I think Nissan should provide a better solution for current leaf. Trade-in, buy-back or battery exchange program with reasonable price will assure the existence of the "Trust" between Nissan and customers.

· · 4 years ago

@EV-1 Driver,

"Thanks for the smug, yet unhelpful comments."

Are you for real? You have got to be kidding me with this kind of statement.

To say that the Volt does not have a better thermal management system than the Leaf, is burying your head in the hot sand. Give me a break with that! It has liquid cooling for the batteries, something Nissan conveniently omitted. The Volt uses a 50:50 glycol/water mixture circulating through the battery pack and drawing heat out of the battery's 288 cells with 144 fins. Under extreme temperature conditions, the battery coolant goes to a refrigerant based chiller, connected to the car's A/C system. Unless they undersized the entire system, the design is proof enough. The Volt also has a battery management system designed to minimize deep cycling of the batteries, which also leads to better battery life, something a pure EV doesn't have the luxury to do. The Volt Owner is right, and you are WRONG.

EVs with the current system of "run the batteries until they have not usable range", with no provision for a change out, ensures that the vehicle is worth NOTHING at that point, because the battery replacment cost would exceed the value of the vehicle. Something obviously needs to change there, or there are going to be a lot of EVs in the junkyard being parted out after eight years. The Volt owner could continue driving with reduced battery capacity using the engine, so again the Volt Owner is right, and you are WRONG.

"At least the Leaf owners had the guts to try something new. That's more than I can say for you." He did try something new. It's called the Volt. Again, the Volt Owner is right, and you are WRONG.

It's pretty dispicable that you are on here bashing people, and then to do it while citing false information, is just unfathomable. The public doesn't believe EV nuts, and this is why. They just look at them as a bunch of nuts.

· · 4 years ago

At least there is the volt available for purchase that got a better battery that is cooled or heated when necessary and a usefull gasoline range extender. Why people buy leaf is a mystery to me, especially if they participate in green car blogs. The volt is only 5 000$ more but it's overall value is 3x the leaf value. I think that the post from 'volt owner' is relevant to this tread. Nissan or the goverment should take their responsabilities and retire this dangeurous car from the roads. Some day or another this will lead to an accident on the road when the power will go kaput or it will do a big traffic jam with a leaf stuck on a crowded road. Again incompetant goverments give 7 500$ tax break for this joke car and the heat is not the only problem, the cold is another problem affecting horrendously all leafs. To compare it with the volt again, we can say that the volt is unnafected by the heat, the cold and also no range problem. The leaf is a worthless car that also cannot fast charge because as nissan themself said it cannot be fast charged without further battery degradation. Also the leaf as the tesla can experience briked battery in the future.

· · 4 years ago

The argument by Perry at Nissan that the cars had high mileage, 19,000 vs. the 12,500 they expected in a year, is an empty argument. It doesn't matter how fast the mileage was accumulated. The fact is that at 19,000 miles the battery is shot. By Perry's logic, everyone should sell their Leaf prior to 19,000 miles.

If they did proper vehicle testing, which quickly accumulates mileage, this problem would have been found before it got to the customer.

Perry also goes on to claim people were driving them on the freeway more than expected. If the car can't be driven on the freeway without reasonable range, then they should not have sold it as a general purpose vehicle.

Perry said, "The cars and the battery packs are behaving as we expected" given the use they've logged to date. Nissan should have disclosed how poorly they expected their battery packs to behave PRIOR to people shelling out their hard earned money for a Leaf.

This car was over sold.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 4 years ago

We need both the Volt and the Leaf to succeed. I own a Volt, and for various reasons picked it over the Leaf, but I was indeed impressed with my Leaf test drive. I don't think bashing of either car is helpful in the long-term goals that I think many of us have.

· · 4 years ago

This forum is full of morons.

· Bill Howland, (not verified) · 4 years ago

@Jiminy
We're not mostly morons, but we do have our opinions.

I test drove the LEAF, while being very impressed, and while I'm in a moderate to quite cold climate, the range was not quite big enough to win me over. With a Big Reliable battery (like 4 times the size), the car would be ideal.

@Michael

You're right to distrust the British VP, he is an eel, and overall does not represent the straight forward , straight talking 'wholesome Americana" image that a Nissan Battery to be made (in Tennessee is it?) here should represent.

@Benjamin Nead

During one of the VOLT deep dive videos, someone mentioned that Nissan engineers laughed at the 'technically inferior battery of the VOLT' compared to the far superior Nissan Leaf" . In view of that, and while I'm not going to do it, I'll excuse any volt owner who wants to gloat a bit.

· · 4 years ago

@Michael,
There is evidence that the Volt may actually be able to handle the high AZ temperatures. Knowing the quality of GM engineers and that GM took the Volt's battery testing seriously, I think there's a good chance they dealt with the battery more appropriately.
I think that is the relevant thing to talk about here, not who's smarter Leaf or Volt drivers. I bought a Leaf with the understanding that I could tolerate 50 - 75% capacity loss and it would still be the cheapest option for my daily commute. I am careful to caution about the range limitations to all whom I talk with. A Volt would have required that I burn gas albeit not too much.

· · 4 years ago

I'm not quite sure what you're referring to, Bill. I don't think I had anything disparaging to say regarding the Volt's battery in my long post above. That was most a talking-out-loud narrative about the disparate Arizona climate, how Leaf batteries may react in various cities here and what we might see coming from Nissan in 2013.

Jiminy might a bit too blunt in his appraisal of our mental capacities on Plug In Cars but he brings up an interesting point: we all tend to play the "This is my favorite EV and your favorite sucks" game a bit too often. I'm just as guilty as anyone else here . . . and it's a mostly pointless endevor.

After a long and interesting day in the sun, attending the local National Plug In Day I've been helping plan these last few months, I found new found appreciations for the Volt and even the Plug-In Prius, which is a car I've not had much in the way of nice things to say about before. I talked to at least a couple of Leaf owners who are a bar down. But they seem far more relaxed in real life and seemingly confident that they won't be completely left out on the lurch as the Nissan drama unfolds.

I'll conclude this little Kum Ba Yah moment by reminding all here that you simply need to talk to the individual owners to get proper perspective as to why they went with this or that vehicle. We can all sit back online and pontificate endlessly about how irresponsible Nissan is, or how holier-than-thou Volt owners sometimes are. But we didn't have any of those sort of figurative fist fights or spitting matches out here in the real world today.

· James (not verified) · 4 years ago

I haven't tried to sell our 2011 Leaf with 2 bars of capacity lost . . . yet. I've been waiting on Nissan to give out some info, but their latest statement gives me little hope, and they seem to be taking a strictly legal position. I don't know how they plan to stand beside their owners if they are denying the problem. We lost our second capacity bar at 14K miles, so it's not just high-mileage cars. While the number of cars experiencing degradation might be small in comparison to all the cars in the world, it's not small when compared to others in Phoenix. I would bet my house that every single Leaf in Phoenix has experienced severed loss of capacity this summer, and so far I've seen no recorded case of a Leaf in Phoenix that has all 12 bars. Nissan knows this, too, but their legal team must be circling the wagons for a fight. Very disappointed.

· · 4 years ago

@ Benjamin Nead

I take your point that on a site that is after all called plug in cars any car with a plug does have it's merits. We should be supporting all plug in cars and if we want to slag off a car make it a hummer.

· · 4 years ago

Unless of course it's an electric hummer

· Ilya Haykinson (not verified) · 4 years ago

I think that LEAF owners who are up in arms about battery gauge indications are deluding themselves over the kind of a car they chose to drive. Nissan, in making the Leaf, is running an experiment about what it's like to market and sell an electric vehicle. This hasn't been done at scale for a very long time and they deserve kudos for doing it, and doing it well. Are there going to be issues? Of course; both technical ones and not. This battery loss trajectory is one of them.

As a Leaf owner is have always assumed I would lose range. So far my indicator is a bit ahead of actual range loss, but it will come, no doubt. But to that my reaction is mainly that of met expectations for the first mass marketed EV in decades: clearly nobody has real long term operational experience with tens of thousands of cars across a big country and across many driving styles.

I think that Nissan is doing everything right here. They are sticking to their initial warnings and explanations because they are the truth –– cars will lose range. The mass market experiment means they also need to learn how to deal with this issue without replacing people's batteries, since that is unrealistic at scale. They need to figure out how much of what happens is normal and how much is not. They need to see how consumers react to their sticking to the company line.

To the rest of the owners, I say: there was a reason you chose to buy a unique car and signed a bunch of paperwork saying you understand the risks. Please grow up and accept that your lost miles are paving the way for future generations to drive such cars. If you can't accept that, sell your car for whatever the price, count it as a loss, and please move on to a hybrid or something else less risky.

· · 4 years ago

Yes, Deckard, that's pretty much my point.

Thank. llya, for your post. While I don't agree 100% with you that "Nissan is doing everything right" in all of this, I have to concur with most of what you've said. But there are now reported issues of very low mileage Leafs with these battery depletion problems. I'd hate to see the entire concept of a consumer electric car die with a single company's intransigence in dealing satisfactorily with what is currently a comparatively small percentage of their customer base.

· · 4 years ago

I am a big "Ex-EV1" fan and are seldom on the other side of his arguments but this time round I completely disagree with him. I owned a Leaf and traded it in for a Volt so I at least experienced both cars. I think that Nissan is making a mistake by not standing behind their product and it is doing huge damage to the future of EVs.

The Volt is a much better ambassador for EVs. They released a great car that can gently ease the masses in range anxiety free ev driving. To make EVs as successful as possible we should forget about the Leaf and move on with the Volt. I feel bad for recommending the Leaf to people as I was doing in the early day' of my Leaf ownership. I hope that nobody bought one based on my advise.

For the last 9 months I have been telling everybody who is willing to listen about how great the Volt is and this time I am very happy to stand behind my recommendation.

· · 4 years ago

@dutchinchicago -- I get the whole "ease people into the EV thing", and it makes sense. But for the diehards who truly hate Big Oil/Foreign Oil, etc. -- yes, I'm one of them -- a pure EV that allows them to flip the bird completely at BO/FO is something altogether different than a Volt, though, of course, the Volt definitely beats the PIP in my book because you can drive it in complete electric mode. I'd never buy a PIP, or even the forthcoming Honda Accord plug-in (I love Hondas, have had the same Acura Integra for 20 years). In fact, I know some Volt owners have burned zero to extremely little gas, though, in many of those cases I have to wonder if they really "need" a Volt.

I'll hop on the "Kum Bay Yah" express with Benjamin and say that I'd like to see all plug-ins succeed, and that it's definitely "different plug-in strokes for different folks" and I believe we all should accept that (of course, I know some of us won't ;-).

However, I will say, I especially want to see pure EVs succeed, because they are pushing the envelope all the way to where I want to see it pushed, meaning they're ditching Big Oil completely (7 of the top 10 Global Fortune 500 companies in 2011 were Big Oil companies -- and it's like that every single year!). I think Nissan's potentially messing things up a bit here with the LEAF battery capacity problems, though I'm hopeful that Tesla will change that. I can't possibly emphasize enough how much I want to see Tesla succeed -- and I know I'm not alone on that one..

· hybrid driver (not verified) · 4 years ago

Can current Leaf owners please tell me what expectations about battery performance were communicated to you by the dealer or in the sales contract? What should the buyers have known before they signed?

· · 4 years ago

All,
Perhaps I came down a bit hard on "Volt Owner", however, his last shot "Drive a smart EV, drive a Volt." really irked me. For me, a Volt would guarantee I had to continue to buy gasoline (unless I continued to drive the Tesla as a commuter car). It's minimal EV range just doesn't cut it, yet, the cheap price of the Leaf means I couldn't pass it up, even if I only drive it for 100,000 miles. It doesn't get what I want - oil independence.
Despite Michael's assessment that infrastructure isn't the issue. It is. Without charging at work, the Leaf wouldn't work for me. As it is, it actually does take about 15,000 miles per year off of my other cars.
The only reason the Volt is of any use is because its secondary infrastructure is already in place.
The Leaf definitely isn't the EV to solve all problems with but, then again, nothing except maybe the Tesla Model S (with infrastructure and ignoring the price) is.

· · 4 years ago

@Ev-1 Driver

"Despite Michael's assessment that infrastructure isn't the issue. It is. Without charging at work, the Leaf wouldn't work for me."

That's not the government putting in infrastructure. That's a private business (unless you have a government job). Yes, I could see chargers at work inducing some people to go electric. What I disagree with is putting chargers all over the place is going to induce people to buy electric cars. It won't. They don't want to bother with it. Most people will not tolerate the cords. They are carrying in groceries, and kids, so the last thing they want to deal with is a cord. Add to that, most people don't even have their cars in a garage, even if they have a garage. Have you seen the junk people have in their garages? I'm literally the only person on my street with all vehicles in the garage. A lot of people have their cars on the street. How is that going to work with an EV?

To get even a blip in market share, there is going to be the need for outdoor inductive charging, and much better range under hot and cold driving conditions, and highway driving.

There is a huge chasm between the EV enthusiasts and the general public. They just aren't going to put of with this nonsense.

· · 4 years ago

@Bill Howland,

"To the rest of the owners, I say: there was a reason you chose to buy a unique car and signed a bunch of paperwork saying you understand the risks."

What risks did these signed documents outline?

· · 4 years ago

It now appears that Chelsea Sexton (EV1 salesperson in the day, one of the founders of Plug In America) will be leading an independent advisory board, with Nissan's endorsement, to investigate the Leaf battery issue . . .

http://www.torquenews.com/1075/nissan-publishes-open-letter-leaf-owners-...

This is a good development. Also noted in the above article is the complete and most recent (dated September 24th) open letter to Leaf owners from Nissan's VP of R&D, Carla Bailo.

Unrelated to Nissan . . . many here might want to tune in to a live webcast from Telsa tonight, 8PM Pacific, on the announcement of their Supercharger EVSE network . The below Green Car Reports article explains it . . .

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1079349_tesla-will-webcast-superchar...

and, within that article, is a hyperlink to the relevant Tesla page . . .

http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

· Zythryn (not verified) · 4 years ago

Michael, what nonsense?
My EV works great in MN winters. Yes, it has less range, but still plenty for my needs. And I have need for no charging stations.
No, that won't work for everyone. But for many people it works now, and in the next few years it will only get better. And for those that do need public charging stations, they can wait to get an EV once the stations are available where they need them.
I do hope Nissan will take speedy action to both correct this issue in their products and make this right for all current owners.

· Iletric (not verified) · 4 years ago

My feeling is that as soon as Nissan produces that new tech bettery for the 2013 models they will come up with some sort of a swap deal.

Also, let me remind you that Tesla has not been all too consumer friendly when their batteries began to coin the word "bricking" in our EV dictionary. I remember the 1st Tesla bricked car owner complaining he was out 30 grand to replace that piece of s****. And I really felt sorry for him. He had not a clue it was coming. Of course neither of us Leafers about the heat damage.

Nissan will have to step up. This is America, and we have a lot of underemployed lawyers around here these days.

· · 4 years ago

@Zythryn,

I am very glad the Leaf is working out for you (for now anyway). Let me ask you, how many mfiles are you going on each trip, what speed are you going, what is the outside temperature, and what is the cabin temperature?

· Bill Howland, (not verified) · 4 years ago

@Deckard:

Actually, I'd like to buy an electric hummer, or more realistically, a fancy Large Luxury EV. I guess manufacturers thought the market was limited currently. There is always VIATRUX but I'd like something a bit fancier. Maybe if battery cost/kwh storage comes down a few more $100/kwh, then we can have a BIG battery in a BIG luxury car. I know about the Rolls Royce EV, but that is out of my price range, and I don't like the stigma attached with the RR.

@Michael....

Hi, I think you've confused my post with someone else, but now that u mention it I did have to sign a document saying I'd keep my Tesla plugged in when its very hot or cold.

· · 4 years ago

@ Bill Howland,

Sorry about that. These greyed out names are sometimes hard to see. Ever thought about joining the circus here? :-)

I did have a question for you. Does Tesla have a warranty for battery capacity vs. years or mileage? Which Tesla do you have?

@ Ilya Haykinson

What do these documents say that Leaf buyers have to sign?

· George (not verified) · 4 years ago

Michael, here is the relevant section from the customer disclosure form: http://bit.ly/Sousmg

· · 4 years ago

I am interested in the mechanics of breaking a lease. The lease terms are so much more favorable now than they were when I leased my LEAF that the $700 Scott Yarosh paid to break his lease looks like chicken feed. It looks like the key is calculating the Adjusted Lease Balance. The key clause in my lease is 13.c) II). It reads:
“an Early Termination Charge equal to the difference, if any, between the Adjusted Lease Balance and this Vehicle’s Fair Market Wholesale Value or, if we do not terminate this Lease under Section 13b), an Early Termination Charge equal to the sum of the Base Monthly Payments not yet due, if less … (both emphases added)

The Adjusted Lease Balance appears to be basically the balance of the ‘loan’ implicit in a lease reduced by the ‘principle’ component of the payments made to date. It would appear that Nissan used “the difference, if any, between the Adjusted Lease Balance and this Vehicle’s Fair Market Wholesale Value” and not “the sum of the Base Monthly Payments not yet due” to calculate Scott’s “penalty”.

The way it looks to me those of us who continue to pay on our old leases are being ‘penalized’, not Scott.

· Peyman (not verified) · 4 years ago

I have been driving a Nissan Leaf since December of 2011. I've driven it for over 12000 miles with no problems. We did have a very hot summer in Virginia this year. We are looking to add another leaf for the office and would be glad to buy a used one.

· · 4 years ago

@Michael,
"That's not the government putting in infrastructure."
I never said that I thought it was the job of government to put in charging infrastructure. Remember, I'm one of the conservative capitalists around here.
Unfortunately, however, in CA, IMHO incompetent government meddling has messed up the installation of charging infrastructure. With the EV Project's promise to install fast charging infrastructure as well as convenience charging, few others made the effort to install anything. Since the EV Project's Ecotality failed miserably to deliver anything useful, we aren't going anywhere very fast.
I suspect that businesses will eventually step up to the plate but progress has slowed greatly.
The slow Level 2 charging rate of the Leaf also impedes the benefit of convenience charging, this hurts the cost/benefit justification for a business installing a charging station.
Naturally, Tesla is the counter to this situation as they are taking matters into their own hands:
Tesla showed us, last night, that most of the whole state of CA is now reachable via the major Interstate arteries, using their 100 kW Superchargers and that they plan to cover most other US states throughout the year. Yesterday, cars left San Jose, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas and drove to Los Angeles in the same time as ICE cars do. They only made meal and bathroom stops at the Superchargers in Folsom, Coalinga (Harris Ranch), Laval (Tejon Ranch), and Barstow.
The chargers are or will have solar arrays that offset their usage and the electricity will be free to Tesla drivers.
As always, Tesla is taking a clever and economical approach to building their superchargers. They are leveraging their mass production of liquid cooled chargers in their cars so that the superchargers look like they can be quite affordable even with 100 kW output.

· Lad (not verified) · 4 years ago

It is interesting to watch all these smart people declare the battery is the problem without waiting for the engineers to complete their analysis...kind of like chickens who peck at a member of the flock who is singled out as being different; a mob mentality thing, I think.

There are many components in the battery including a monitoring system, software programmable, that is responsible for controlling the charging and discharging limits of the cells. If there is a faulty sensor or a series of faulty sensors that are sensitive to heat in these circuits, their input could cause the software to undercharge the battery.

So, don't write off the battery just yet; Nissan may have a classic Battery Monitoring System (BMS) problem and that is a fairly inexpensive fix.

· · 4 years ago

If customers are not getting a good answer from the dealers then they need to skip over to Nissan's customer support line and complain. Remember dealers are independent owners and sometimes do not act in accordance to Nissan's wishes.
Also, I am sure Nissan has a team working on this and these problems take time to track down and develop an action plan that everyone can agree too. Note: Toyota's acceleration problem.
I do know that Nissan-Japan ran major test on the Leaf before release and went to great lengths to make sure it was a good car. They must have still missed something with the heat issue.

· · 4 years ago

Good points, Lad and Red Leaf. As noted yesterday, Nissan has now asked Chealsea Sexton to head up a global independent advisory board (ie: she chooses participants, not Nissan) to look into the battery issue. I think this is a good development for everyone involved, both company and vehicle owners/lessees. When it's all said and done, it will be interesting see which "armchair engineers" guessed it correctly. But, yes, we'll just have to wait and see.

· · 4 years ago

@Lad,

"If there is a faulty sensor or a series of faulty sensors that are sensitive to heat in these circuits, their input could cause the software to undercharge the battery."

If that was the case, the battery would undercharge on the first hot day, with a full drop in range. Reports so far indicate a gradual reduction in range over a period of hot weather exposure.

@Red Leaf,

"They must have still missed something with the heat issue."

A vehicle manufacturer doesn't just "miss something" this big and obvious when doing vehicle validation. They either did grossly inadequate testing of prototype and pilot cars, or saw the problem and ignored it. It's not like this showed up five years down the road. This problem showed up after one summer.

I think some members of Nissan management should be fired for this.

· George B (not verified) · 4 years ago

Michael, good thinking, have to agree with you. Please consider however that a number of owners built meters allowing them to monitor pack voltage on the CAN bus. It does not look like more than 5% of capacity fluctuation could be attributed to higher temps. So far, it looks like the majority of autonomy loss is due to battery degradation. We don't know why it occurs so early and with with this magnitude. It could be the materials used to manufacture the cells, sensors, software or any combination of these things. Whatever the reason, based on the observations owners have collected across different climates, it's unlikely that a significant portion of the capacity will come back or the loss could be turned around.

· · 4 years ago

From a lay-person, non-engineer’s perspective, this issue is beginning to look fairly straight-forward: Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, was warned by his own engineering staff and others that releasing the LEAF without an active thermal management system for its battery was ‘ill-advised’. Ghosn chose to ignore the advice and take the risk - or rather let the LEAF’s early adopters in all but the most mild climates take the risk.

The LEAF’s range, even as a new vehicle fresh off the showroom floor, is limited enough. At this point in time that appears to be true for most genuinely affordable ‘pure’ BEVs. I chose a LEAF for both its initial price difference and the promise of reduced maintenance from a single, electric drive train. But at this point, the likelihood my LEAF’s range will soon drop below my minimum range threshold requirement of a one-way 30 mile trip up Mt. Lemmon is forcing me to seriously consider breaking my lease and getting a Volt.

This time for tax reasons I am considering buying rather than leasing, a potentially less easily reversible decision. Thanks to George for posting the LEAF customer disclosure form: http://bit.ly/ousmg. I notice a couple of the “severe conditions” it recommends avoiding is “driving at a steep incline for extended periods of time, and (4) electrical use, especially heater or air conditioner use.” This text is in a section discussing ‘Driving/operating’ rather than ‘Gradual loss of battery capacity’ but I assume that loss of capacity and operation of an EV under (a combination of) “severe conditions” are related. (??)

So… in addition to any other reasons not to go ahead with a Volt purchase, i.e. any reasons why a BEV – LEAF, Volt or other - would not be a good choice at this point in time, I am wondering if the Volt’s battery active thermal management system (and apparently the limitations GM’s engineers imposed on drawing down its battery) make it a more suitable choice for driving in “severe conditions”? It is beginning to look like, given the state of present battery technology, something like the Volt is as far as one can safely push the envelope at this time (without the cash to buy a Tesla).

· hybrid driver (not verified) · 4 years ago

Thanks also to George for sharing the customer disclosure info.
In my opinion Nissan knew there would be some customers that would see fast battery degradation due to operation in a severe environment and they took the chance. It remains to be seen what effect the publicity of these Phoenix issues will have on the future of the Leaf. Nissan may lose their bet in this country.

· · 4 years ago

Kinda surprised that none of the regular article contributors on Plug In Cars have had anything to say about the latest developments on this Leaf Battery issue. Then again, it's a bit of a moving target. As soon as a news article is composed, there's a new twist.

The MyNissanLeaf forum is the hub of activity on this issue right now. The below thread starts with Nissan's Carla Bailo's open letter of September 22nd, announcing the inquiry board with Chelsea Sexton. Several posts in, Chelsea is starting to post and speaking directly with Leaf owners. As I type this, it's already up to 37 pages . . .

http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=10074

Happy reading, ya'll . . .

· · 4 years ago

Ford is missing a great opportunity to push sales of the liquid-cooled Focus EV in hot climates.

· · 4 years ago

Ford is missing a great opportunity to push sales of the liquid-cooled Focus EV . . . PERIOD. One of the guys I know in our local electric car club here in Tucson has spent almost the entire past year waiting for the local Ford dealer to take delivery of a single vehicle for him. A deposit was paid months ago and several promised delivery dates have come and gone.

The buyer (or more precisely, the person who would LIKE to buy,) an older gentleman, who converted his own EV years ago, is very knowledgeable about how they work. He chose the Focus EV for two reasons: (1) wanting to support a US-based manufacturer with a product built on these shores and (2) because he liked the idea of a liquid-cooled lithium battery pack in Arizona.

This is why I get so annoyed when we have these monthly sales reports posted on this site, with nothing more than a series of numbers worked into a few sentences. It blindly assumes that any person in any city in the country can walk into any local auto dealership and buy any EV they see pretty pictures of on the internet. Maybe the Ford Focus EV is generally available in New York or San Francisco but, so far, not a single one has been made available in Arizona. Simply providing a low monthly sales numbers doesn't clue you into this reality.

Nissan is getting a lot of grief right now over this battery debacle and much of it may be very well deserved. But at least they have made their EVs available on a nationwide basis in quantity and in places where, currently, competing products aren't offered.

· · 4 years ago

One marketing bungle after another

I’m on the verge of dumping my LEAF for a Volt. The Arizona battery problem is certainly a factor. But so is watching the slow pace of battery technology evolution over the last 14 months. The LEAF needed all the range it had coming off the production line – and lots more. It also needed the potential to take advantage of those battery technology advances. Nissan’s stonewalling on the ‘Arizona problem’ suggests it may not have that potential.

Some variation of the Tesla approach, with customers able to rent the range they need when they need it, would appear to have the potential not just to combat range anxiety and technological obsolescence fears but open up a profitable rental business for Nissan dealers as well. Nissan’s handling of their battery problem suggests they do not believe they can engineer a solution for existing LEAFs if replacing the battery is required. That suggests the situation is ‘what you see is all you are ever going to get’.

I remember reading an article saying Nissan or someone was looking into the aftermarket potential of LI batteries. It is hard to believe such potential doesn’t exist. (perhaps as a front-end for power company grid batteries?) The aftermarket user could supply the active thermal management system Nissan gambled on not having to provide. If it had to (and could?) pull the batteries from existing LEAFs, it wouldn’t have to eat their cost as a total loss.

The LEAF is a great car! Its larger battery opens up the potential for it to share the cost of that battery with other applications, e.g. emergency battery backup for rooftop PV power generation systems. Nissan’s engineers have already developed this capability. Apparently it is being marketed in Japan but not the US. This looks like an almost perfect fit. Hopefully you would never have to use it in the vehicle to grid mode. And it also provides the quick charge capability the older LEAFs currently lack. (See http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1076589_nissan-launches-leaf-to-home... )

There is a lot of vaporware battery technological advance on the horizon. But it doesn’t look like we are going to see any of it in mass market products any time soon. I certainly wish Chelsea’s Sexton’s commission well. But forming a committee to study the problem is a standard political stonewalling tactic. Nissan needs to make an unequivocal commitment to its existing LEAF customer base that it will fix not just those cars with obvious problems but any LEAF with the potential for the Arizona problem to develop, particularly after the LEAF goes out of warranty (such as it is).

And they need to make that commitment soon!

· · 4 years ago

Hey Steven . . . After chatting with you in person last weekend and having you tell me of your personal driving requirements (regular runs up to Mt. Lemmon . . . where, in fact, I'm headed myself later today,) it sounds as if the Volt probably is a better fit for you. I do look at this advisory panel that Chelsea is heading up as a positive development, though. A new article picking up on that story can be found here . . .

http://www.plugincars.com/nissan-buy-back-some-range-depleted-leafs-1246...

I'll send you an off-list email mid October, giving you a heads up on the next TEVA2 meeting.

· Arizona EV_Pilot (not verified) · 4 years ago

Living in Phx, only owned for 10 months and down bars… 5 stars on all my battery treatment reports… this is nuts! I have treated my car perfectly but Nissan has treated me horribly. Much worse than the news reports!

Nissan's rebuttal about high mileage in Arizona -> Why does Nissan celebrate temperate region owners for 40K miles in one year, but throw AZ owners with 20K miles under the bus?

Shameful Nissan, no class. I would expect omission of facts and bold faced untruths from a used car dealer, but not a top manufacture! I have owned 3 Nissans, but never again after the past few months of Nissan being impotent and cold. Come pick up my car Nissan!

P.S. Thank you Zach McDonald for standing with us Arizona Leaf owners on this issue!

· · 4 years ago

@Tony Williams, Scott Yarosh & Zach McDonald –
I had already contacted Nissan Leasing and my buyout figure came in considerably north of Scott’s. My guess is there was some ‘divine intervention’ involved in reducing Scott’s. My question is where did it come from – the dealer, direct negotiations with Nissan or the threat of legal action under the Lemon Law?

Scott’s battery has suffered more degradation than mine, though it is probably impossible to determine anything with precision using the LEAF battery gauges. I have a picture taken yesterday just before another trip up Mt. Lemmon showing my battery charged one bar BEYOND the battery’s capacity. That would have been good news had I not received a “Battery Low” warning just before turning off my LEAF at the top. I have pictures of the gauge on a trip taken last year about this time showing two bars of charge – and memories of having three charge bars until after turning my LEAF on for the descent.

The bottom line is that, though my LEAF can still do what I told the dealer it had to be able to do, after reading comments by various contributors to this site, I expect it will soon no longer be able to. (In fact, after receiving the battery low warning yesterday, it would be fair to say it no longer can because I did not go to the very top of Mt. Lemmon.) I leased my LEAF out of concern about its lack of a battery active thermal management system but with the hope of acquiring equity while I waited to see how the issue played out. (I have some major home remodeling bills – added PV space – to prove my commitment.) It looks like the answer is in. If Nissan is going to ignore the problem, I need to know what if anything I can do – other than pay in full the cost of a contract I signed when I thought the LEAF might be a keeper.

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