Nissan Software Update for 2011/12 LEAFs Yields Promising Results
Ten days ago, Nissan North America announced expanded battery pack capacity warranty coverage for 2011 and 2012 model year LEAF electric cars. At the same time, it announced the same cars would be given various software updates to improve range calculation, battery capacity reporting, and charger compatibility.
Since then, a steady stream of 2011 and 2012 LEAF owners have had their cars updated at their local dealers. So far, the software update—which Nissan is calling a “software enhancement” is yielding positive results. Nissan said the software update gives 2011 and 2012 LEAFs the same battery management algorithms found in 2013 LEAFs by reprogramming the car’s on-board lithium-ion battery controller.
Additional Range, Improved Charging
In addition to improving the accuracy of the car’s on-board range-estimation and battery capacity reporting, the update is reported to give LEAF owners an average of five miles of additional range per charge. “I would say it has added five miles of range,” Washington-based high-mileage LEAF driver Steve Marsh told PluginCars.com in an email. “The update was done over the weekend. I am in much better shape.”
With more than 80,500 miles on the odometer, Marsh’s LEAF is believed to be the highest mileage privately-owned LEAF in the U.S. Driving it between 120 and 130 miles per day, Marsh was starting to worry if his LEAF—which recently lost its first capacity bar—would soon need a replacement battery pack in order to cope with his arduous daily commute.
In addition, the update—known as the P3227 reprogram by LEAF aficionados—also updates the car’s on-board charger software. While this update won’t magically make older LEAFs charge as fast as new 2013 LEAFs, it does address a previous known compatibility issue between the LEAF and certain brands of public charging stations that previously prevented charging from taking place.
Generally Positive Reviews
For high-mileage Marsh, the update was a much-needed improvement to his trusty LEAF. “I won’t be needing the quick chargers at this level of range,” he said. “So some love from Nissan. I feel so much better.”
On the MyNissanLEAF forum, where LEAF owners have been discussing the software update in great detail. Many who had the update said they experienced an improvement—in reported and actual range—to the one experienced by Marsh. Others have not noticed a huge difference in range, primarily because they don’t drive enough on a daily basis to completely drain their car’s battery pack.
While the majority of feedback for the warranty and software upgrade is positive, some—especially those in warmer states whose cars have suffered significant battery capacity loss as a result of premature, heat-induced battery aging—remain suspicious of Nissan’s latest LEAF software update. To many, the update is yet another chapter in the ongoing battle with Nissan to acknowledge that LEAFs are not yet ready for life in extremely hot climates.
Regardless, anyone with a 2011 and 2012 LEAF will likely want to visit their local dealer for the update, since it provides the same battery management found in the 2013 LEAFs for free. Anything missing from the update? Yes, the facility to view battery state of charge as a percentage on the LEAF’s dashboard. That, said Nissan, isn’t possible on older cars.
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