Nissan Moves to Resolve More LEAF Range-Loss Claims

By · October 09, 2012

John Noble's LEAF

In November of last year, John Noble and his wife picked up their LEAF. Less than a year later, they will sell the car back to Nissan, but thanks to a positive resolution they say they will consider a non-electric Nissan for their next purchase.

More than two weeks after offering to buy back a pair of range-depleted LEAFs in the Phoenix area, Nissan appears to be moving swiftly in resolving remaining weather-related battery-loss claims in the Southwest. On Friday, the carmaker contacted at least four LEAF owners to schedule tests on their cars, with one of those owners reporting to PluginCars.com that he has already received a buyback offer for his LEAF.

John Noble, a Phoenix resident who purchased his car with his wife in November of last year, told PluginCars.com that he and his wife are happy to have achieved a resolution. “It took Nissan months to react, which left my wife and I very upset,” Noble wrote in an email last night. “Over the past few days Nissan has personally worked with us to regain our trust. Nissan has met our expectations and we are satisfied.”

John was particularly pleased with the support he received from his local dealership, Coulter Nissan. “As you can imagine, having one week to find a new car and get together a down payment is tough. Luckily, our dealer has exceeded our expectations and is contributing thousands to help us get into a new car.”

Noble says Nissan told him that its engineering team had reviewed his case and decided that his ownership experience stood out. So, in the interest of customer satisfaction, they decided to expedite his request and will be sending him a check for his car this week.

Over the course of his first eight months of ownership, Noble says he lost two bars of range, a significantly higher rate of loss than most of the other cases logged at a user-generated MyNissanLeaf.com wiki, which documents the claims.

On the MyNissanLEAF forums, at least three other owners whose cars are listed in that wiki claimed to have received calls from Nissan on Friday. Two of those owners reported Nissan requested that they bring their cars in for testing.

Looking Ahead

After a nightmare summer of slow sales and mounting customer dissatisfaction in the Southwest, Nissan’s recent moves indicate a determination to rebuild its relationships with aggrieved drivers and the EV community at large. There will be several new team members in place when Nissan commences marketing the first American-made LEAFs to roll off its Smyrna assembly lines next year, as well as changes to the car that could make it more affordable and better suited to colder climates.

Though sales in the United States have been disappointing of late, the LEAF was never expected to take the market by storm in its first few years of existence. Rather, this is the kind of car that will succeed or fail based on the enthusiasm of its early owners. Most LEAF drivers get used to explaining the ins and outs of the car to curious friends, family members, neighbors and strangers pretty early in the ownership experience. How they respond to those inquiries will make all of the difference in the world for the future outlook of the vehicle.

Every bit of time and money invested in engaging early adopters and ensuring their satisfaction will pay dividends in the long run. Right now, it’s looking more and more like Nissan has learned that lesson and is taking the right steps towards implementing it into their product strategy

Comments

· · 2 years ago

Seems like Nissan is going to have to come up with a comprehensive program for all affected vehicles, rather than continuing with this one-off strategy.

· David Martin (not verified) · 2 years ago

Since it appears that their expectation in the Arizona climate was for around 37,500 miles in five years taking you down to 80% capacity, Nissan have sold a vehicle which is unfit for purpose.
Can you imagine if a regular vehicle was in trouble after such light use?
Replacing a few of the very worst affected does not in any way alter the basic situation.
In any hot climate, can you imagine what the trade in value of a Leaf is as this news gets around?
Nissan have stuck their customers with lemons, and they tell us that they always thought that the vehicles they were flogging would have this disastrous life expectancy.
They have done untold damage to the drive to electrify transport.

· KellyOlsen (not verified) · 2 years ago

Seems to me that Nissan has changed course and is making earnest efforts to resolve the issues for the owners. One has to remember that there are thousands of LEAFs on the road that seem to be very satisfied with the performance of their cars.

You have to put this in context and recognize that with any new technology there are going to be bumps and issues. Statistically, so far, the numbers of problem cars are very low. Hopefully, they will stay low and if not, then things need to be done to address all concerns.

It looks like Nissan is making a renewed effort to address the issue.

· SteveCh (not verified) · 2 years ago

I'm happy for this guy. He made a foolish mistake believing the company really cared
about delivering a quality car. They don't. They are going to do the minumum to cover
their butts and that's about it. As for me, I used to want a Leaf. Now I don't.
No way would I spend my hard earned money for an "experiment".

· Michael Walsh (not verified) · 2 years ago

The Nissan LEAF has been a great car, FOR MOST PEOPLE. Where Nissan has failed miserably is in not setting realistic expectations for prospective owners and completely letting current owners down on the communications front. Hopefully, both these deficiencies will be remedied by the new LEAF Advisory Group once it gets going.

· Tony Williams (not verified) · 2 years ago

It's only been about a month since Nissan announced that only 37,500 miles were expected from Phoenix drivers (about 20.5 miles per day). In addition, they have re-indexed their expectations to 76% after those 20.5 miles per day in 5 years (down from 80%).

That means that the average owner, who drives 12,000 miles per year, and who leased a car on a typical 12,000 miles/year contract, will hit their 5 Nissan-LEAF-Years(TM) of battery life in 38 months. Drivers who drive the slightly higher average of 1250 miles per month (15,000 miles per year, which Nissan will add to a lease contract for just a few dollars per month) will reach 5 Nissan-LEAF-Years in 2.5 years (30 months).

People who lease, in the worse case scenario, have an extremely shortened range car when they turn it in at 24, 36, or 39 months (leasing past the warrantee of 36 months is not wise). For people who purchase, they are stuck with a severely diminished car, both in range and VALUE. We don't currently have the price of the battery, but it is believed to be $12,000 (dealer wholesale net) to $18,000 (retail list price). The car may not even be worth that number in 5 years.

I'm extremely gratified to learn that now four of the 12 cars we tested in Phoenix on Sept 15, 2012 have now been bought back. There's much more work to do to PREVENT these issues in the future, and I hope Nissan follows through. Buying back a few cars is cheap and puts out a fire; let's not let the smoke continue to smolder.

· Justin H (not verified) · 2 years ago

I have owned a leaf for going on a month now. Very happy and satisfied, as all D.C. Area Leaf Owners are as well. I commute 35miles each way, and on a single charge with accessories is maxing out the range. The ability to 120V trickle charge at work and ability to L2 charge on the way home (if needed, plenty of FREE stations) There is no reason not to use electricty over fossil fuel. I have driven over 1300miles, and saved almost $250 in fuel over the past few weeks compared to my SUV (26mpg) i traded. Yes there has been issues in HOT weather climates with excessive driving above the projected or lets say estimated use of the car, however poll the entire population of leaf owners and other full EV owners to see a full respect and appreciation for the technology. Call us guinea pigs or beta testers, but we enjoy it and we are here to stay. Its the close minded or individuals unwilling to change speeding, travel time or travel planning habits which are continuing the growth of negative feedback.

Get in a LEAF, You'll Love it, Get in a Volt that youll enjoy going longer without paying for gas, get in a Prius or C-Max Plug-In Hybrid and go even further .

Either way, EV's are the future and they will continue to gain in appreciation and acceptance.

· Justin H (not verified) · 2 years ago

I have owned a leaf for going on a month now. Very happy and satisfied, as all D.C. Area Leaf Owners are as well. I commute 35miles each way, and on a single charge with accessories is maxing out the range. The ability to 120V trickle charge at work and ability to L2 charge on the way home (if needed, plenty of FREE stations) There is no reason not to use electricty over fossil fuel. I have driven over 1300miles, and saved almost $250 in fuel over the past few weeks compared to my SUV (26mpg) i traded. Yes there has been issues in HOT weather climates with excessive driving above the projected or lets say estimated use of the car, however poll the entire population of leaf owners and other full EV owners to see a full respect and appreciation for the technology. Call us guinea pigs or beta testers, but we enjoy it and we are here to stay. Its the close minded or individuals unwilling to change speeding, travel time or travel planning habits which are continuing the growth of negative feedback.

Get in a LEAF, You'll Love it, Get in a Volt that youll enjoy going longer without paying for gas, get in a Prius or C-Max Plug-In Hybrid and go even further .

Either way, EV's are the future and they will continue to gain in appreciation and acceptance.

· · 2 years ago

I love my Leaf; 8400 miles; one year, 1 month ownership. I have not noticed any loss of battery. Would have more miles but had to travel out of the area for a few months.
I enjoy passing gas stations but I do wish I had more range. I know there are a number of improvements coming with 2013 just not sure of the overall impact.
I am looking forward to the Smyrna launch this will have a great impact on the car. The price will come down due to Yen rates are so high and will keep coming down because Smyrna will begin local sourcing parts. Nissan knows it must compete with other cars coming into the market.

· Herm (not verified) · 2 years ago

Nissan still has not done anything to correct the design flaw that causes excessive wear of the battery with normal use in hot climates.. expect severely depressed trade-in values in the future once this fact spreads. Hopefully it will not permanently stain the reputation of future electrics. Low trade-in values in Arizona will affect sales as far as DC.

· · 2 years ago

Herm, This is true and a possibility as you can pick up a used 2011/2012 with under 10k for around $24,000 on online auctions. But we all just have to wait and see what 2013 has in store with election for one. 2 if gas prices still rise, there will be a market for those cars with the degraded battery in areas where families need a short trip commuter and 40-60miles (per full battery) would suffice. Its just hard to tell. Technology changes and advances so quickly, by the time us current owners start to have battery issues, there will be a replacement out there for less than the current OEM price. I'm sorry the AZ and Southern California owners cannot enjoy their cars due to the battery and their climate, but the rest of us do and I hope more positive comes out of this so we can boost the sales of the cars.

· · 2 years ago

So far in OC, CA I have 28000 miles since June 2011 on vin 4163 and still getting 6 miles out of first bar at avg 40 mph. I saw the biggest drop in that first bar right after the update was installed at the 1-yr checkup and the guess-o-meter is more linear now. Still can get estimated 85-mile range (driving 70 mi with 15 mi remaining) when most driving is 55-65 mph. I charge to 100% 10 times a week. There's no doubt it's a battery environment problem and I'm glad to see Nissan is finally doing something for customers who have the problem now. They should try to come up with a retrofit for better battery cooling while charging (more than a fan, like a Peltier unit running off the solar panel or something).

· Frondeo (not verified) · 2 years ago

Have had my 2011 LEAF 14 months & 15,856 mi. Live in inland So.Calif. (it's hot here-100-ish)& have had NO measurable diminution of range. This is with having no sheltered parking for it. Also I live @ top of a killer hill. Love the quiet smooth ride & instant pickup! Level 2 charger at home, & good solar system powering it.

· Paul Sepuka (not verified) · 2 years ago

My Phoenix Leaf had lost its second capacity bar at 13,300 miles and 13 months. I am one of the 3 mentioned in this article that Nissan called last Friday. I am still waiting for a call to bring my car in for inspection. I am hoping that Nissan will also allow me to return my car. I expect my car to end it's useful life at about 36 months due to the heat issues here in Phoenix. I'll still have two more years of payments on it at that point. Had Nissan told me I could only drive my car 20 miles a day to get 5 years out of my battery pack or face a dead car at 36 months of average (12,000 miles/yr) driving, I would never have purchased the Leaf. Who would? For the sake of the EV market, I am thankful this only appears to be happening in very hot climates. Also for the sake of the EV market, I hope Nissan resolves this issue for affected owners quickly.

CONGRATULATIONS JOHN! I know you went through a LOT to become whole again.

· Paul Sepuka (not verified) · 2 years ago

My Phoenix Leaf had lost its second capacity bar at 13,300 miles and 13 months. I am one of the 3 mentioned in this article that Nissan called last Friday. I am still waiting for a call to bring my car in for inspection. I am hoping that Nissan will also allow me to return my car. I expect my car to end it's useful life at about 36 months due to the heat issues here in Phoenix. I'll still have two more years of payments on it at that point. Had Nissan told me I could only drive my car 20 miles a day to get 5 years out of my battery pack or face a dead car at 36 months of average (12,000 miles/yr) driving, I would never have purchased the Leaf. Who would? For the sake of the EV market, I am thankful this only appears to be happening in very hot climates. Also for the sake of the EV market, I hope Nissan resolves this issue for affected owners quickly.

CONGRATULATIONS JOHN! I know you went through a LOT to become whole again.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 2 years ago

If I owned a Leaf I would STILL like to know precisely at what point Nissan will or will not replace my battery... I'm not one for vague promises... I read the fine print on the advertising brochures and was underwhelmed as to real life battery capacity that Nissan apparently would stand behind. I was impressed by the Test Drive, but concerns about the battery capacity and longevity turned me away.

· Thome P (not verified) · 2 years ago

I thought that the batteries were covered for 8 years. I was under the impression that if a battery went completely dead or lost most of it's capacity in the first 8 years, Nissan would replace it. Am I wrong?

· · 2 years ago

@Bill Howland / Thome P - I share the same concern in my iMeiv ... I read all the warranty information and it's rather vague. It says the expectation is that there will be no more than a drop to 80% of the original battery capacity over 8 years. But, it doesn't explicitly say they will replace the pack if it is at 79% after 7 years. And would I even notice that? In this brave new world the EV manufacturers don't know enough about the pack life - so they can't really promise anything. I'm hoping they at least will replace any dead cells (which the warranty is a little less vague on) if that causes the range to go below 80% or if there is some other battery cell warning/failure.

· · 2 years ago

The service people at my LEAF dealer in California say there are multiple sensors on the car related to the battery system that should give a dash warning in the event of a cell problem, but I would be more comfortable if I had access to some technical information on that and Nissan's testing and development related to it.

· · 2 years ago

I am a little confused. Everyone things the BATTERY needs to be replaced referring to the WHOLE BATTERY when in fact it is a SERIES of BATTERIES each the side of laptop. I had some documentation on how many I think 48 or so and I can not find it. All Nissan really needs to do is pull the BATTERY PACK and replace the BAD ones. It is that simple and the car is almost like new again.
I bet they will replace specific batteries and re-use the car. The electric motor will probably last forever.
As far as the heat the warranty book warns about excess heat in detail and they are still buying the cars back.
I am wondering why Nissan sells them in Arizona in that kind of heat knowing it could be an issue and now finding out there will be an issue. Just back out of Arizona. Causing more problem then good.

· · 2 years ago

@Red Leaf
Yes, there are individual units that can be replaced if one or more goes bad. I think the sooner a bad one is detected and replaced, the better for the longevity of the others. My hope is that this will be obvious to the owner and not have to wait until the annual checkup to be detected.

· Frondeo (not verified) · 2 years ago

1st cool day. Now over 16,000 mi. on car,& lose charge @ same spot on trip as always (except on 100+ days). Always been a moderate driver (style-wise) & haven't changed. Also have done only two Level-3 charges ever & not from empty. Was warned @ this before purchase.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Everyone who referrenced me and posters concerned about individual batteries.

I'd be Highly Highly suspicious of any program that "REPLACED ONLY THE BAD CELLS". iF the car battery has been overheated then ALL the cells will be probably bad, not just the 10% that fail on Nissan's Test. Also, since the things are in series / parallel, how do you charge replacement cells and nonreplaced cells of differing condition/efficiency/capacity, and equalize the charge so that you sufficiently charge the new cells, and don't 'sulphate' the old ones?

Consider the entire battery like the old 'matched pairs', and replace the WHOLE thing will carefully matched identical new cells. Anything else will definitely be asking for trouble. And before anyone says I'm just a BedWetter, ask Nissan owners in Tucson whether battery troubles are nonexistent or not!

· · 2 years ago

I think we all just hope that Nissan will come up any good program to deal with owners vehicles that have a problem. That means a good diagnostic procedure they will run routinely, maybe even more often than once a year if an owner perceives a problem, and fix it. Having that in place will do more for their credibility than anything if they expect to continue to move LEAF cars from production to asphalt.

· · 2 years ago

Billy Howland

This is not like an acid battery where a cell goes bad and the whole battery is bad. This is more like having individual batteries in a flash light but much more sophisticated. I am not sure how the Leaf works in using the batteries up, this is not my expertise. But I do not see them being used in parallel as you describe. And 'SULPHATE' there is no sulphate.
Also, I am not saying Tucson owners are or are not having trouble. I am saying that the batteries can be individually tested for replacement.

· Kristjan (not verified) · 2 years ago

All the discussions are about the range. If you are not sure that Leaf will do all your drives, go for the Volt. Both cars are really good to drive, what I can't say about Prius. My daily drive is between usual 10 miles, up to max 40 miles, so I went for Leaf. Everyone has different needs and taste, Leaf's range is well above my needs and thats how you should choose your car. Enjoy your driving and if you can also do it green, even better. I find the critics about Leafs range really odd, if you do till 60 miles per day, the car is for you! If you do more, forget it, endless discussions if and for how long it will do your 60-70 range. Mine does without any eco driving or saving on heating some 60 miles with 80% charge, I also live in colder climate. If I after 10 years charge it 100%, it will still do my max 40 miles per day easily. After 10 years I'm sure to swap my battery in Leaf to 40-50 kw for 3-4000, but I will not be needing to do that.

· George B (not verified) · 2 years ago

Red Leaf : Bill Howland is correct, the cells are closely matched in terms of their spec, and the BMW is balancing them carefully. However, once they have all lost 10% of nominal capacity, you won't be able to replace a few cells and regain some range. It does not work that way. If the cells age unevenly, and one or more of the cells have lost disproportionate amount of capacity, then replacing those modules will help. Regardless of chemistry, in a serial arrangement, the whole pack is as strong or as weak as the weakest cell.

Kristjan: glad to hear that that Leaf is working for you. Apparently, you are based in Europe. Drivers in the US drive many more miles and at higher speeds than in Europe or in Japan, and some of the climates can be quite extreme. Arizona is known for being harsh on batteries and other types of equipment. Please realize that the car is not an ideal fit for everyone, and some of the early adopters might be facing serious issues with their particular use case. It's not about being critical, no, it's about using the technology in an appropriate way. This in turn necessitates honesty in communication and advertising. The Leaf can address the transportation needs of many, but it's not a car for everyone.

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