Most Nissan LEAF Owners Want To Buy, Not Lease, Replacement Batteries

By · July 25, 2013

Nissan LEAF modules />

Nissan North America in June launched its LEAF battery replacement program, designed to give owners of high-mileage LEAFs a way to ensure that their car’s battery pack retains at least 70 percent of its original capacity, even if no longer under warranty. But most LEAF owners—57 percent to be exact—don't like the deal, according to a recent survey on a popular LEAF owners online forum.

Nissan’s Battery Replacement Program is essentially an ongoing battery lease, to the tune of $100 a month. The poll started a month ago on the MyNissanLEAF forum asked drivers this question: What is your reaction to the $100 a month replacement battery pack program?

Overwhelming Majority

Of the 188 votes cast at the time of writing, only four percent—that’s seven drivers—said that they were happy with Nissan’s proposed deal. Sixteen percent said they liked the idea of renting a replacement pack, but wanted to know more before committing to it, while 18 percent said they would rent only if Nissan gave them an exit price—essentially a way to buy the pack after a set period of rental.

The overwhelming majority however, felt that Nissan’s proposed battery rental scheme wasn’t acceptable, with 107 respondents indicating they wanted an option to buy a replacement pack instead of renting one.

Based on forum comments, and interviews with LEAF owners, LEAF drivers view Nissan’s battery replacement program as ransom. “I drive over 15,000 miles per year,” wrote one forum member. “If I’m going to drive the car for 15 years, I’m going to probably need a replacement battery—but I don’t want to be tied to a mileage limit (that would be like being stuck in a lease), and I don’t want to have to deal with all the complexities involved with terminating the rental.  With that in mind, it’s very simple: I cannot consider Nissan as an option if they are not willing to release replacement battery costs.”

Other say Nissan has failed the early-adopter community by breaking a promise it made to release full battery replacement costs. By refusing to give a outright purchase price, the faith many EV drivers had in Nissan has been undermined.

Back to Gasoline

Some LEAF drivers claim the proposed battery lease scheme makes it entirely uneconomical to drive an electric car. Five percent of respondents said Nissan’s battery replacement program would force them back into gasoline car ownership.
“The LEAF has been an interesting experience but it has cost me dearly because I was an early adopter,” wrote one owner. “Frankly an inexpensive gas car like a Mazda 3 is starting to look pretty appealing.”

If Nissan refuses to offer an option to buy a new battery pack, LEAF owners would like a third-party vendor to offer that option. The majority of LEAF owners in temperate states are hopeful that by the time their LEAF needs a new pack—probably in about six to eight years—either Nissan or a third-party vendor will offer battery upgrade paths.

Such an offering seems likely, given the enthusiasm with which the LEAF-owning community has built third-party capacity gauges, towing solutions and charger upgrades. Unfortunately, Nissan's brand loyalty among EV drivers would be tarnished if a third-party vendor provides a battery upgrade solution, while the company that produced the car—and heavily invested in electric cars—tries to push its customers into an undesirable battery lease program.

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