New LEAF Warranty Will Cover Battery Capacity Loss
After a summer filled with LEAF battery capacity loss claims that were only amplified by Nissan’s slow response, the carmaker has announced a major step that could help to put warm weather LEAF drivers’ minds at ease concerning the problem.
In a trio of posts at MyNissanLEAF.com, Nissan told the LEAF community that beginning in Spring 2013, the car’s New Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty will include a 5-year, 60,000-mile protection against battery loss in excess of 30 percent.
“For LEAF vehicles whose batteries have fallen below nine bars during this period, Nissan will repair or replace the battery under warranty with a new or remanufactured battery to restore capacity at or above a minimum of nine bars. A vehicle whose battery has nine remaining bars indicated on the gauge is retaining approximately 70 percent of its original battery capacity. This new limited warranty coverage remains subject to the other terms, conditions and exclusions of the Nissan New Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty, which otherwise remain unchanged.”
For most LEAF buyers in moderate climates, the new warranty protections are relatively meaningless. Normal range loss levels still fall well above the 70 percent protection, and there haven’t been extensive reports of the phenomena outside of the hottest U.S. LEAF markets.
Response to the announcement on the MyNissanLEAF.com forums was mixed, although most welcomed it as a step in the right direction.
On the one hand, the warranty doesn’t ensure that future drivers won’t experience significant range loss over the life of their vehicles. A new LEAF could lose more than 20 miles of its original range at any time during the first five years of ownership and still be functioning “normally” enough to fall within the terms of the warranty. On the other hand though, future warm weather LEAF owners now at least have a better idea of what to expect from their cars. In the hottest climates, LEAF drivers with regular commutes of more than 55 miles would likely be wise to avoid purchasing a LEAF as their only car, since 70 percent of capacity represents roughly 51.5 miles of range.
The LEAF still lacks an active thermal management system, and though Palmer promised that Nissan is working to improve the precision of its battery capacity gauge for future models, the packs can likely be expected to respond more or less the same to the stresses blamed for the summer range-loss fiasco. The difference is that now consumers know what to expect and can pass on the LEAF if they think that their needs aren’t met by the new warranty.
UPDATE:The article originally incorrectly stated that the new expanded warranty coverage doesn't apply to existing vehicles. It will, beginning sometime in Spring 2013.
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