New LEAF Warranty Will Cover Battery Capacity Loss

By · January 02, 2013

LEAF Battery Pack

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.”

Andy Palmer
Nissan executive vice-president

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.

Comments

· · 1 year ago

Zach, I believe you are mistaken in this - "On the one hand, the warranty doesn’t cover current vehicles or ensure that future drivers won’t experience significant range loss over the life of their vehicles."

Per the MNL note by Andy Palmer - "The expanded warranty coverage will apply in the United States to the upcoming Model Year 2013 Nissan LEAF upon its release. Importantly, Nissan will provide this expanded coverage to all model year 2011 and 2012 Nissan LEAFs sold and distributed by Nissan in the United States to date, effective upon a date to be announced but which is anticipated to be in the Spring of 2013."

· Lad (not verified) · 1 year ago

It's important that you get the facts correct. The fact the 2011 and 2012 cars will be covered has an effect on the resell costs of the used cars and incorrect information could possibly halt a potential sale.

· · 1 year ago

Thanks for the correction folks. I've updated the article to reflect it.

· Gary L. (not verified) · 1 year ago

Here is the entire text of Andy's message and a Q&A from Nissan: http://sfbayleafs.org/news/2012/12/nissan-announces-expanded-new-electri...

· · 1 year ago

Well, at least Palmer is doing something.. But its a pretty miserly effort if you ask me.

For someone who was interested but finally decided against the Leaf due to Concerns about poor battery performance/warranty coverage, please tell me how the # of bars on the gauge accurately measures the battery storage capacity. I know how they're related in theory but I'm talking about actual storage inside the battery.

ON that note, has anyone actually TESTED a 9 bar battery to see how much juice is left in it FOR SURE?

· Anonymous Leaf Owner (not verified) · 1 year ago

Is there any conclusive evidence that warm weather is to blame? It seems that the capacity loss is consistent with the mileage put in on these vehicles, nothing more. The only reason it correlates with warm weather is because a warm climate is more driver-friendly than a wintery mix of snow and ice.

· Walt Thode (not verified) · 1 year ago

Does anyone report loss of range in cold weather? We took delivery in Boise of our Leaf in May, and didn't notice any appreciable loss of range in summer heat (we can get over 100 in July/August), but we are seeing a sizeable range reduction in below-freezing temperatures. I don't know whether to attribute it to winter or to a progressive range loss over time generally. Any thoughts?

· ChrisM (not verified) · 1 year ago

Time to move to a leased pack model.

· · 1 year ago

Responding to Walt Thode's post:

Walt, I live in St.Paul, Minnesota so I suppose our winter days are quite similar. We would consider a very cold day to be around -15 F, a cold day to be 0 F, and a mild winter day to be around 20 F.

Brief background: Two of my co-workers and myself were able to negotiate a 2012, 15K miles, for $300.85 per month, with nothing down. When you consider the $7500 fed tax credit, it brings our net cost to lease down to $122 so we just couldn't pass it up. I only mention this to show that my response here is based on experiences of three 2012 Leafs, and we are all have similar experiences.

Yes, in the summer we too were seeing a larger driving range, though not quite up to 100 miles. Our commutes to work are primarily freeway driving which is not where the high efficiency driving is for an electric.

My round trip commute is 45 miles and my wife's commute is 43 miles. Since my commute is 98% freeway and hers is more like 75% freeway and 25% city streets it made sense for her to drive our Leaf in the winter. Recently we have had a few winter mornings with temps around -10 F. On all winter days we start the climate control while it is still plugged in to our level 2 charge station (240volt). That brings the interior of the Leaf to a very warm 77 degrees. On winter days that are above 10 F, my wife can usually make it to work without the climate control at all by using the seat warmer and steering wheel heater. These do not show up on the gauges so I suspect they are powered by the smaller 12 volt battery. If so, these heaters would not affect range. However, on the sub zero days, she does turn on climate control about mid way through her commute to work and obviously she needs to use climate control on the way home because the Leaf has been out in a cold parking lot all day. Most winter days the vehicle has 2 bars left when she gets home. On the sub zero days she backs off just a bit on the climate control and the Leaf has 1 bar remaining and 5 to 9 miles on the range estimate gauge.

The 3 of us at work discuss our winter driving experiences frequently and these are our observations/speculations about cold weather affecting range:

- The climate control heater in the Leaf is very similar to a baseboard heater that you might have in your home. A fluid is electrically heated and that fluid is pumped to the heater core within the dash to heat the interior. We all agree that the heating system is not very well insulated from the outside environment. We know that the heater is completely up to temp when we leave for work. I turn on the climate control about 30 to 60 minutes before she leaves for work. But, if my wife turns the climate control back on after driving about 15 minutes, there doesn't seem to be any residual heat in the system. It seems that it has to start nearly from scratch. In Nissan's defense though, on most winter days it does heat up rather quickly. However on a recent -15 F day, it did not have the ability get the interior nice and cozy. I suspect that part of the range improvement for the 2013 is added insulation so the heater doesn't have to be run as much.

- Our experience has been that if you are going to preheat the interior while still plugged in, be sure to run it for more than 20 minutes. The gauges show that the heater will consume a bit over 4.5KWH for a while to bring the interior quickly up to temp. I read somewhere it is preset to 77 F. Consider that the 2011 and 2012 Leafs can only charge at 3.6KWH. That means that even while you are plugged in, your battery is draining at about 1KWH. But, as we all have seen, the heater throttles back to about 1.5KWH once the interior is up to temp. So initially, even preheating the vehicle while plugged in will draw about 1KWH from the main battery pack, thus reducing your range a bit. If you start the preheating early enough, the heater will have throttled down to 1.5KWH and there will be ample time for the battery to recover to full charge. We verified this by turning on climate control while plugged in and then monitoring the mileage estimater with our iPhone app. The range drops as much a 5 miles and then recovers.

- My dealer discussed cold weather concerns with me. He noted that the Leaf cannot be stored in temps below -5 F for more than seven days unless it were plugged in. He said that heaters would kick in to warm up the batteries to protect them. We have wondered how this battery heating system works. It could be that after approx 7 days of sub -5 F temps the battery heater may have to start heating, or does it start low level heating at 0 F right away? This would obviously affect range if it starts to run. I don't have any knowledge about how this heater works so maybe it is or maybe it's not affecting your winter driving range.

One last thought on my long reply....

- Nissan obviously has the ability to communicate with the Leafs
- Nissan must have the ability to upgrade or edit the software and settings that control the Leafs
- Nissan has learned that they could safely increase the charge rate (3.6KWH for 2012, 6.6KWH for 2013)
- Nissan does not allow you to discharge the batteries below 50%
- The new battery warranty only covers battery loss below 9 bars.
- If my batteries lose more than 1 bar, winter commutes to work will not be possible
- Any chance that Nissan would adjust the discharge limit to keep the range consistent over the life of a lease?

If I lose 2 bars, I will have to sell my Leaf because it cannot commute to work in the winter. If Nissan would remotely adjust the discharge level to keep my range constant then my Leaf experience would be a success rather than a failure. I realize that this would impact the life span of the battery pack, but if it doesn't meet my needs then it has already failed for me.

Another option is to check on the possibility of trading it in for a new Leaf. If 2013 Leaf sales are slow, and their range is up by 14%, maybe there is the possibility of a trade on the last day of the month for a Nissan dealer that hasn't made his numbers. This Leaf is my 46th vehicle. I have made some really nice deals on the afternoon of the last day of the month when sales are slow.

We are the early adopters of electrics that decided to participate in the learning curve. I guess we're learning...

Fred

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