Nissan VP Andy Palmer Answers Questions About LEAF Battery Concerns

By · October 05, 2012

Nissan has released video of a 16-minute interview between global executive vice president Andy Palmer and noted electric vehicle advocate Chelsea Sexton. The video comes as the carmaker attempts to repair its relationship with some in the EV community who have been dissatisfied with its response to reported battery degradation in hotter climates like Phoenix.

Much of the interview is centered around those claims, and in it, Palmer attempts to once again give Nissan’s side of the story, attributing the issue to a combination of factors including driving distance, charging habits, climate, and the car’s battery level display. Last month, Palmer was widely criticized for claiming that the problem rested entirely with a faulty battery display.

Sexton and Palmer also discussed the possibility of offering a replacement battery pack for owners wishing to get a fresh start after their cars have experienced the normal, expected range loss that Nissan says will see most cars losing between 20 and 30 percent of capacity over 5 to 10 years. Palmer said Nissan had never even considered the possibility that owners would request such an option, but promised to look into the matter further.

Over the last two weeks, Nissan has taken significant steps to address the range-loss issue, including offering buybacks on several of the initial seven vehicles it had brought to its Casa Grande facilities for testing. Additionally, the carmaker has moved to forge a more open dialogue with the LEAF community with the formation of an advisory panel led by Sexton, and by actively participating on the MyNissanLeaf.com message boards.

Nissan maintains that it will deal with range-loss claims on a case-by-case basis, and hasn’t yet offered a general commitment to purchase back or cancel the leases on dozens of other vehicles that have reportedly lost bars of charge capacity at a faster-than-expected pace.

Provided that progress continues to be made in communicating with the remaining aggrieved owners and ensuring their satisfaction, Nissan’s reputation within the EV community is likely to recover. What the company can’t afford to do is ignore further range-loss complaints as it did through most of the summer. Hopefully, Palmer his fellow executives are committed to ensuring that won’t be the case.

Comments

· Iletric (not verified) · 2 years ago

Nissan needs to stop this "combination of factors including driving distance, charging habits, climate, and the car’s battery level display" spin and acknowledge it's HEAT ONLY.

They need to take a random sample of Bay Area Leafs and compare those cars with a random sample of AZ cars. My contention will become very obvious fast. And also compare 80% chargers with the 100% chargers (like myself) to learn even more.

My feeling is, they already know everything they ever needed to know through Carwings, just won't share that info with us.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 2 years ago

I just don't trust this Palmer dude. He's in damage control. If Nissan wanted to satisfy people they would get rid of the 'non-linear-bars thing' and put a percentage state of charge thing so that it would be easier for the customer to see as their degredation of the battery progresses.
I don't see the thing failing pack by pack if it was originally a decent design.. And I'd be concerned about charge equalization between old and new packs.

Chelsea is being too easy on this dude. Contrast his meely mouthed responses where everything is very vague, with Bob Lutz's specific cost breakdown of the chevy volt.

Since Nissan engineers were earlier criticizing the 'inferior Volt Battery" I'd say they have borderline braggart, incompetent engineers designing these things, or at least the Chief Engineer isn't Seasoned.

An engineer should have interview Palmer. Chelsea is agreeable to chat with, but if I were a Nissan Owner I would want to know the cold hard facts of what specifically is Nissan going to do for me and at what point EXACTLY will this be triggered in the warranty.. Palmer talks all day and says nothing.. Which is exactly what his intention was. If I interviewed him, I would not let him get away with that.

· · 2 years ago

Something is not added up here. Compare this:
“Sexton and Palmer also discussed the possibility of offering a replacement battery pack for owners wishing to get a fresh start after their cars have experienced the normal, expected range loss that Nissan says will see most cars losing between 20 and 30 percent of capacity over 5 to 10 years. Palmer said Nissan had never even considered the possibility that owners would request such an option, but promised to look into the matter further.”
with this:
“Perry said that eventually, changing the battery in one of the company's EVs will be much like upgrading memory in a computer. As more power will be available in a given size/weight footprint, owners will find the upgrade desirable as well as cost-effective.
Any battery upgrade would likely fit into the same space and occupy the same weight, for safety reasons, and the LEAF's power management software is fully capable of handling a significant upgrade in battery capacity, so it would simply be a matter of swapping the battery pack—located under the floor—and nothing more.”
http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1040181_nissan-leaf-battery-upgrades...

· EricH (not verified) · 2 years ago

I hope that they address the issue about the blown diodes that was discovered by Leaf owners that charge with the GE Wattstation. The GE-Nissan investigation revealed that the issue was due to the software in the Leaf and there's been no response from Nissan (that I'm aware of).

· · 2 years ago

I've played this video all the way through a couple times. Most of what Andy is saying makes sense to me. But I'm baffled at the explanation he gives between 03:24 and 04:18, regarding the 7500 miles annual "average" that Arizona Leaf drivers use their cars. Chelsea also seems to question him about the 7500 mile statistic within that time frame.

Were Arizona Leaf owner/lessees advised at the signing of their contracts that 7500 miles annually was all that Nissan would warranty?

Or was it written (as it is, presumably, everywhere else) that 12,500 miles annually is what Nissan would warranty in Arizona?

Also . . . there have been reports of Leafs with around 6000 miles or less in the Phoenix area that have already lost a capacity bar.

So . . . the saga continues.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 2 years ago

@EricH

As I've stated before the only Danger I've seen with the GE charging lineup is they apparently use the #10 ground wire as one of the data leads (pilot) whereas other manufacturers (Schneider, Aerovironment, etc) use two small dedicated wires. Since some people use GE products successfully with Leafs, I'm wondering if a bad ground situation at the chargerdock will put 'foreign' juice on the pilot leads and blow out those owner's leafs.

This is all conjecture on my part - I'm trying to reverse engineer how they could ever have a scenerio where damage could conceivably happen, and only with certain people. Since all the GE's are the same, the only variable is the installation. If a customer has the bad luck to have his Dock installed incorrectly, then the Leaf blows up. That Nissan Dealership first stated they were going to dishonor the warranty if any further charging takes place with GE products.. Then due to a Secret Agreement between GE and Nissan, it was decided the warranty would be honored, and NOBODY IS SAYING NOTHIN. The public statement was released saying "Improper Software in the LEAF caused the failure". I'm guessing but can you say "obfuscation"? Of course, no mention is made of the hardware economization in the GE product.

· · 2 years ago

I re-read this article - http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1040181_nissan-leaf-battery-upgrades... - and noticed there were no specific commitments FROM NISSAN regarding “battery-upgrades”. It would be interesting to know the degree to which the journalist responsible for this story, Bengt Halvorson, may have been just putting words into the mouths of Nissan spokespersons – words he and we might want to hear but not what Nissan actually said. It would be even more interesting, though, to know whether they had any substance – both for the LEAF AND the Volt. Given present limitations of EV battery technology, e.g. capacity, environmental tolerance, and of course cost, easy upgradability would seem to be an essential design requirement for at least this and the next several generations of EVs.

Anyone know who comes closest on this score?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

Damage control, pure and simple. Use Chelsea Sexton for appearance and credibility, and let the cooler seasonal weather changes kick in and hopefully cut down the degradation process in the coming months. And oh yes, never admit 'we made a mistake' and continue with the corporate excuses that put the onus on the owners.

Meanwhile, continue to push a flawed product onto unaware customers hoping they don't read the fine print.

If only Nissan was GM.......

· · 2 years ago

Chelsea Sexton seems like a super nice person but I'll never forget what she said about GM market research in the documentary, "Who killed the electric car?" She said something like, "GM should not tell people a out the limitations of electric cars before asking them if they would be interested in buying an EV." She may have changed her opinion since then but I find it I little ironic that she is now working for Nissan who seems to want to hide the limitations of the Leaf.

· · 2 years ago

@smithjim1961 - A friend who is in marketing (and I suspect VERY good at what he does) were discussing the issue of EVs and their current limitations. He suggested that vendors offer prospective customers classes on how to drive their EVs so as to get the most out of them – and also to make it clear what, given the current state of battery technology, they can and can not do. I think this is an excellent idea both to insure the customer does not have unrealistic expectations and to insure that those expectations are met by teaching people how to drive the car in question if there is a good fit.

This should probably be a separate post but I was wondering why the Blink charge log wouldn’t be a good tool for documenting changes in the LEAF’s battery charging capacity over time. If it is, would you use the data for Energy from ‘Charge Events’ or ‘Power Events’? Most of the time they seem to be the same. What’s the difference? My data does indeed suggest a declining charge capacity over time (no surprise there!) The question is whether the rate of degradation is excessive. Here is some data with the 100% charges sorted to come to the top of the list and some columns omitted:

Charge Events | | Power Events |
End | Energy | Start | End | Energy | Start | End | Energy

2011-08-20 13:11:53 | 34.136 | 6:16 PM | 1:11 PM | 34.136 | 6:16 PM | 10:51 PM | 16.885
2011-08-07 18:01:33 | 15.842 | 3:35 PM | 6:01 PM | 15.842 | 3:36 PM | 7:52 PM | 15.842
2012-02-06 12:44:18 | 15.223 | 8:10 PM | 12:44 PM | 15.223 | 8:11 PM | 12:21 AM | 15.223
2011-10-17 12:44:21 | 14.819 | 9:47 PM | 12:20 PM | 14.819 | 9:47 PM | 1:51 AM | 14.819
2011-10-03 11:57:24 | 15.017 | 9:59 PM | 11:57 AM | 15.017 | 10:00 PM | 2:04 AM | 14.743
2011-09-07 18:25:41 | 14.743 | 2:21 PM | 6:25 PM | 14.743 | 2:21 PM | 6:21 PM | 14.743
2011-08-03 13:11:54 | 20.282 | 7:46 PM | 1:11 PM | 20.282 | 7:46 PM | 11:41 PM | 14.641
2011-07-14 12:45:36 | 13.715 | 9:31 PM | 12:45 PM | 13.715 | 9:31 PM | 1:16 AM | 13.715
2012-03-05 12:12:03 | 14.385 | 7:43 PM | 12:12 PM | 14.385 | 7:43 PM | 11:24 PM | 13.713
2012-03-24 13:49:15 | 13.036 | 8:06 PM | 1:49 PM | 13.036 | 8:06 PM | 11:35 PM | 13.036
2012-04-16 12:41:18 | 12.918 | 11:08 PM | 12:41 PM | 12.918 | 11:08 PM | 2:36 AM | 12.891
2012-02-22 12:53:01 | 12.725 | 6:55 PM | 12:53 PM | 12.725 | 6:55 PM | 10:21 PM | 12.725
2012-02-09 15:42:11 | 12.58 | 9:44 PM | 3:42 PM | 12.58 | 9:44 PM | 1:07 AM | 12.557

· · 2 years ago

@world2steven,
If I'm interpreting your Blink log properly, it doesn't show battery capacity but, instead electric energy consumption and charging speed.
It looks to me like it simply shows you how much energy you consumed in the previous day's driving.
The only way it would show battery capacity would be if you ran the battery all the way down to empty every day.
I suspect that the decrease in energy is probably due to the driver driving less or more efficiently with time.

· · 2 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver – I am going to talk to Blink to see if they can explain ‘what it all means’. My thought was that the charge data should show a down-sloping curve as the battery accepted less and less of a charge. I only charge my battery to 100% before each trip up Mt. Lemmon. I do it out of necessity because I would not make it to the top if I didn’t. At the end of each trip, since the charge gauge never displays more than two or three bars, I charge it to 80%. Perhaps for test purposes I should do another 100% charge instead. But wouldn’t a down-sloping curve even for the 80% charges be significant? The Mt. Lemmon trip is almost test-grade identical each time.

· SteveCh (not verified) · 2 years ago

Dear Nissan,
Your attitude towards this problem is going to be your ruin.
You can take the approach that this is all normal for this car.
If that's true then forget it.
I no longer have any desire for a Leaf.
Not that car, not now, not ever.
You've shown me that if I have a problem with your new technology
it's my own fault for having faith and buying your electric car.
You don't treat customers that way and keep them.
Years from now the Leaf will be compared to the Edsel.
My advice to anyone shopping for an electric car.
DON'T BUY A LEAF. NISSAN WON'T STAND BY IT.
IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM THEN ITS YOUR FAULT FOR BEING
FOOLISH ENOUGH TO BUY THE CAR. GOODBYE NISSAN.

· · 2 years ago

@World2Steven,
If you ran the battery down to empty (for some consistent definition of "empty") every time, then I'd believe that the energy consumption estimate by the Blink would be correlated with battery life. However, if you're measuring the energy put back into the battery after each Mt. Lemon trip, this isn't so.
All Blink is telling you is how many kWhrs it's putting into your car. That shows how many kWhrs you've consumed driving plus any losses consumed while plugged in (cabin preheat, fans to cool battery pack, etc).
Again, if your driving takes the battery pack from 100% full to 0% empty, then the Blink number probably shows the battery capacity. If your driving only takes you from home to Mt. Lemon and back then it doesn't account for the pack's capacity.
Unfortunately, I don't recommend trying to run your pack from 100% down to 0% and then back up to 100% very often since the deep discharge and full charge will damage your pack. I think it would be more meaningful to look at how many "bars" are left after your Mt. Lemon trips and judge your capacity from that.

· · 2 years ago

@ ex-EV1 driver – Interesting response (as usual). My “consistent definition of "empty"” would be the state of the battery after a 100% charge, complete with cabin ‘precool’ (this is AZ. I don’t think I have ever used ‘preheat’!) followed by an identical round trip to the same mountop destination. The precool is done: a- because I won’t drive an unconditioned car – did that for 20+ years with my 77 Ford van; b- to eliminate or smooth out energy requirements for cooling the passenger compartment.

I didn’t know the LEAF ran cooling fans when it was turned off if it is plugged in? Thanks! That constitutes a powerful tip to AZ and / or cold climate drivers does it not?

So… given the above, why couldn’t I just look at what it took to charge to the 80% level after each trip and perhaps multiply it by 125% to get the battery’s current capacity – give or take what might have been supplied for cooling (and heating?) fans? Incidentally Blink breaks each charge event down so that it would probably be possible to separate charging from running the fans.

· · 2 years ago

@world2steven,
I don't know what all the Leaf may run during the charging process. There is some noise but I haven't investigated if it is fans on the battery or, perhaps cooling of the on-board charger circuitry but it could be an intermittent draw of power that the Blink wouldn't know about.
Remember that the energy to precondition will depend on how much cooling it has to do so that will depend on ambient temperatures and shading.
The big thing you're missing on determining battery capacity though is still the "empty" point. There is not much question when you are full, the question for capacity, however, is: "how much is left?"
All you learn by charging after the same trip is "how much energy you used on the trip?" This is a different question than battery capacity.

· PAT (not verified) · 2 years ago

Agree with some comments, Nissan is using Chelsea Sexton to paper over the problems Leaf owners are facing. Hope she will ask tuff Q but she does not realize that she is being used by Nissan. Face up Nissan and do the right thing for your customers as GM did for Volt even tho Volt had no battery issue at that time. I will not even consider buying Leaf or any other Nissan product. This should be made clear to these big CEO who will bs and try to blame the customers for its cars.

· PAT (not verified) · 2 years ago

Agree with some comments, Nissan is using Chelsea Sexton to paper over the problems Leaf owners are facing. Hope she will ask tuff Q but she does not realize that she is being used by Nissan. Face up Nissan and do the right thing for your customers as GM did for Volt even tho Volt had no battery issue at that time. I will not even consider buying Leaf or any other Nissan product. This should be made clear to these big CEO who will bs and try to blame the customers for its cars.

· · 2 years ago

I spoke with a Volt sales person who claimed to have asked a GM engineer how difficult it was to replace the Volt battery with the issue of customer complaints about planned obsolescence in mind. The answer was that the Volt, if only for ease of testing, had been designed for pretty much plug-and-play battery replacement. (IMHO this should have been and continue to be a design goal for EV makers for the foreseeable future.) The 2013 already has a different battery than previous models.

Is it fair to conclude that existing Volt owners will be better able to take advantage of (hopefully) rapid advances in battery technology than LEAF owners? If not, I have to wonder why Nissan didn’t simply replace the batteries in at least some of the problem Phoenix LEAFs instead of buying back the whole car unless it suspected a new battery would just have the same problems again.

@ ex-EV1 driver – You appear to be saying that, notwithstanding the same level of charge prior to taking the same trip followed by the same level of recharge is not a reliable indicator – or at least close enough for govt. work as they say - of the LEAF’s remaining battery capacity, even if power consumption for purposes unrelated to charging can be filtered out. Why?

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