Nissan Prepares Cold Weather Package for All-Electric LEAF

By · April 21, 2011

The Chevy Volt charging up under a pile of snow

The Chevy Volt charging up under a pile of snow. Nissan is preparing the LEAF for next winter.

Nissan is planning to finally introduce its cold weather package for the electric LEAF, presenting a solution—similar to that taken by the Chevy Volt—to the vexing problem of reduced range when the heater is running.

After his keynote address at the New York Auto Show, Nissan’s chairman of the Americas, Carlos Tavares, denied that the package—which includes heated seats, a duct to direct warmth to the back seat, temperature management for the battery pack, a heated steering wheel and heated mirror—was a response to LEAF customers reporting reduced range of 20 percent or more with the heater running. Indeed, Nissan initially described the system last year, but did not put a price on it or make it available on the early cars.

Tavares didn’t announce a price for the cold weather package, but he did say it will be standard on cars headed for chillier states, and optional elsewhere.
Tavares said that Nissan had gotten “no specific complaints so far” about the loss of range in cold weather, which seems odd because a lot of people have complained about it to me. Presumably, the system will be able to reduce the output of the power-robbing electric heater and compensate by heating the seats, wheel and mirror. The Volt has an “eco” mode that works similarly, but some reviewers have complained that it leaves them with warm hands and hindquarters—and cold everywhere else.

The cold weather performance issue has been trumpeted as a sleeping giant for automakers. Now that spring is upon us, they have a bit of a breather to get some quick fixes in place. Because next winter will be here before you know it.

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