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Nissan Suggests Leaf Battery-Capacity Loss Due To High Miles: Exclusive

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Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

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It's been a few months now since reports of losses in battery capacity in Nissan Leaf electric cars began to filter out of Arizona.

Owners have complained to Nissan's Consumer Affairs group and written hundreds of posts on owner forums. In July, Nissan Americas took seven different Leafs in for a complete assessment by the technical unit at its Arizona Testing Center.

Now Nissan is starting to reveal the conclusions it's drawn from examining those seven Leafs and their battery packs.

Mark Perry, Nissan North America’s product planning and advanced technology director, discussed the company's findings exclusively with Green Car Reports.

19,000 miles or more

The common thread among the seven Leafs from Arizona, Perry said, was that all of them had covered much higher mileage than the 12,500 miles Nissan used to estimate the rate of battery capacity loss over time.

All of them had covered at least 50 percent more than that--or roughly 19,000 miles a year--and a few were "significantly higher" than that.

[UPDATE: After this article was published, Nissan used the actual mileage of the seven cars in the test to provide additional data. "The average mileage for the cars investigated was 19,600 miles, and the average in-service time was 14.7 months," wrote the company's Katherine Zachary. "Average annual mileage [of those cars] is about 16,000 per year, more than double the average Phoenix customer mileage of 7,500 miles per year."]

As a sprawling suburban city, Phoenix also requires a higher proportion of travel at freeway speeds, with relatively less time spent in low-speed urban stop-and-go traffic.

Based on those factors, Perry said, "The cars and the battery packs are behaving as we expected" given the use they've logged to date.

2011 Nissan LEAF prototype

2011 Nissan LEAF prototype

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Starting in 2009, Nissan executives have consistently said the Leaf battery pack would retain 70 to 80 percent of its charge capacity after five years--and average roughly 70 percent capacity after 10 years.

In other words, capacity loss is not linear, but quicker during the first few years than in subsequent years, assuming equivalent mileage in every year.

Assuming averages

Those projections, based on battery testing during development of the Leaf, assume the car covers 12,500 miles a year, in climates largely similar to those of Los Angeles (50 to 90 degrees F, with an average temperature of 68 or 70 degrees).

Phoenix has also just had one of its hottest summers ever, he noted.

Looking at 450 Nissan Leafs now in Arizona, Perry said, using data each car transmits to a Nissan control center, it appears that Leafs in Arizona are "on a glide path" to average battery capacity of 76 percent after five years rather than 80 percent.

The seven cars the company inspected in depth are likely to have less capacity than that after the same time.

Perry said he couldn't comment on what the company's data showed regarding frequency of charging and frequency of quick-charging for the Leafs it inspected.

Reaching out to owners

 

Starting on Thursday, Perry said, Nissan began reaching out to the owners of the seven cars it tested, to arrange face-to-face meetings with each of them.

nissan leaf ev 028

nissan leaf ev 028

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The company's goal, he said, is to discuss how to satisfy those owners. "We want to make sure they're satisfied with their vehicles," Perry stressed.

He declined to suggest any remedies or compensations the company might offer, stressing that Nissan wanted to satisfy each owner individually.

Nissan has also heard from "a handful" of other Leaf owners on battery-capacity issues, he said, both those who have lost one or more bars and those who are concerned that this may happen in the future.

The company isn't now planning face-to-face talks with that larger group of owners, he said.

Leaf specialists

Instead, they should continue to discuss these issues with the Leaf electric-car specialists at the Nissan Consumer Affairs Center.

The toll-free number to reach that center is 800 877-NO-GAS-EV, or 800-664-2738.

Perry declined to go beyond "a handful" in specifying how many Leaf owners had contacted the company about the issue, although after continued questioning, he indicated it was far fewer than 100.


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Comments (110)
  1. Keep up the analytics on this issue. It is important to understand the real world testing that is going on via the early adopters. Additionally, if these batteries are losing capacity more in hotter climates, then battery climate control must be utilized. I don't see any articles about Tesla owners complaining about a loss of battery capacity or from the Toyota Rav-4 crowd. Seems Nissan really should do what they can to manage expectations on this. There sales rates have suffered on this. People are obviously watching this. I'm staying tuned!
     
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  2. Got a survey request from Nissan America on the LEAF today. The questions make it clear that they are wondering what has gone wrong with their sales and why so many people who have expressed interest (like me) have not made the purchase.
     
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  3. Nissan: Hey, we have this car that's so awesome - it will have a battery and it will be so cool (even in Arizona.) Do you want it or not?
    JB: Of course I want it - I've never seen anything like that and the chicks will be all over it. Here's your hundred dollars! And call me, baby!
    Nissan: So, you remember this car you ordered a couple of years ago? It's just missed the tsunami in Oppama and it's on its way. Where's the rest of our money at?
    JB: What did you say? I can't hear you! The line is breaking up. Click! ...I was just trippin', man. Now, gimme my hundred back :-)
     
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  4. LOL, well played.
     
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  5. My owner's manual states that high temperatures (among other things) can "significantly" shorten battery life. We are all going to get different battery lives depending on where we live and how we drive.

    Nissan states in this article that Leafs in Arizona can expect to get slightly less life out of their batteries.

    Food for thought:

    If there were also 450 Leafs in Alaska would there be outrage at the low annual average range obtained because of cold temperatures, also warned about in the owner's manual?

    If temperature is the sole factor who can explain why the other Leafs in Arizona do not all have the same loss of battery capacity considering that they have all been exposed to the same temperatures?
     
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  6. OK, so heat and mileage impact the life of the batteries.

    Is part of the issue with heat due to the lack of liquid cooling, and can we expect better performance from EVs using liquid cooling.

    And is the problem with 15,000 miles/year (41 miles/day) more an issue of high DOD (depth of discharge) than the miles? Is taking these LEAF batteries from 100% down to near 0% too often rapidly degrading the batteries, and is this reason to have 150 miles model S and limiting it to 90% of full charging? Does it also show the huge advantage of Chevy's approach of keeping SOC between 20-80%?

    For those of us in cooler climates, and shorter commutes, is it safe to get a LEAF?

    Honestly, I find this news a depressing reality check.
     
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  7. I live around Portland OR, we have close to 22000 in 15 months. No visible degradation. So the Leaf can easily do 50 miles () a day from 80% charge. We charge to 100% every weekend and drove over 170 miles a day (in weekend, half city driving, half freeway) with two additional 20 minute Quick Charging. We never saw more than 7 bars in temperature, mostly 5 bars. So in cooler climates and short commute I would not hesitate to lease a Leaf for 24 months. They have some good deals now at around $200. I would not buy one since in the next couple year the Leaf will have a better battery. FYI: I bought mine and I have not regrets since my commute to the transit center is 16 miles and to work 40 miles. I should be able to use the car 10 years.
     
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  8. James, thanks for the real world experience check.
     
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  9. James has it right. I have a Leaf in Seattle and set its timer to charge to 80% starting at 1:00 AM. I occasionally charge it all the way when I want more range. The car has far more range than I need for 99% of my trips, which includes a daily 25 mile commute. I borrow my wife's Prius on rare occasions when a trip gets me too close to range estimates.
     
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  10. That is about what my daily commute is like and I am hoping that in Austin I do not see these issues. I am trying not to get overwhelmed by the negative I see on these forums. I understand I was buying into a new technology and it might not be perfect. I am afraid that people are going to use this as an excuse to kill the car.
     
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  11. These comments from Perry is just Corporate Spin...What about low mileage LEAFS. There is a low mileage LEAF in Arizona that reported 3 capacity bars misssng with less than 8000 miles. Total Corporate Bull****.
     
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  12. nissan is missing the point...no one wants to be in the "handfull". Good money after bad is not an option for the handfull....BTW,,Nissan had a lot of problems with nissan maxima engines seizing up for a while.
     
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  13. Need to explain why the other 400+ Leafs in Arizona are fine if temperature is the only issue as opposed to being a main contributor.
     
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  14. @Russ: FYI, I've added the following update to the article text above.

    "UPDATE: After this article was published, Nissan used the actual mileage of the seven cars in the test to provide additional data. "The average mileage for the cars investigated was 19,600 miles, and the average in-service time was 14.7 months," wrote the company's Katherine Zachary. "Average annual mileage [of those cars] is about 16,000 per year, more than double the average Phoenix customer mileage of 7,500 miles per year."

    Thought this might add to your discussion.
     
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  15. To me that would be a under warranty issue and that was the exact scenario that was mentioned to me by my dealer. I think that would be one of the issues Nissan would deal with on a individual basis. Not sure if we have to know about every situation and how it is solved. Though it will be nice to hear that Nissan did something.
     
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  16. There are more comments in this thread
  17. Most understood the bars are non-linear ( first bar is 15% then next much less.) But this statement is troubling

    " Perry wouldn't specify what proportion of pack loss those three bars did represent, saying it could vary with each car's use."

    which is saying its not consistent across cars! That means the bars have little predictive value for anyone, anywhere.

    Since the AZ test by Tony et al ran the cars to turtle, it does not really matter what the gauge says.. they measured range on a full charge with ranges from 59 to 76 miles before they were towed. Of course Nissan won't comment - it contradicts their "answer" to why there is no problem.

    So glad I got a Volt instead. 9500EV miles and same SOC on my R/T, still >50mi per charge!
     
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  18. What contradiction? He said Leafs in that hot area can expect lower life. Range is also a function of speed. The owners manual says the same thing.
     
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  19. Nissan never specifically outlined how much climatic conditions and average ambient temperature plays into the projected life of the battery. The owners, and I'm one of them, had to laboriously study through battery data sheets from comparable automotive products, NREL studies, and other materials, just to get an idea how climatic factors will affect the battery. This should be disclosed upfront, and with clear language. Such as, expect twice or three times the speed of degradation in Phoenix versus Seattle. Alternatively, present buyers with life predictions based on mileage in their locale. Harping on 'high miles' and 'battery abuse' is not going to convince anyone. Especially if these owners received five stars on their annual checkup.
     
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  20. I read the Tony et al study. The results:

    1)three of the 12 cars exceeded new car specs.
    2)some gauges actually were off.
    3)that half of the cars were within 5% of new car specs
    4)eleven of the twelve were with 10% of new car specs
    5)the worst car, the one that traveled 78% of the distance of a new car had 29,000 miles on it.
     
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  21. Russ, point taken, thank you. Consider that the results Tony published assume 84 miles traveled at 62 mph on flat terrain. This corresponds to 21 kWh usable, quite typical of new battery performance. Unfortunately, he did not have a control car with 100% battery state of health at the test site. Two of the cars were tested by Nissan in Casa Grande, and Tony's published results measured loss of autonomy for these two vehicles within 0.5% and 2.5% of test results verbally communicated by Nissan to owners. That said, we observed unexpected distance traveled after reaching the low battery warning, which many owners like to avoid. The loss of autonomy above the low battery warning was disproportional. Please have a look at: http://bit.ly/Rgruxl
     
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  22. George, actually 4 of the 12 cars were at Casa Grande.
     
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  23. Tony, thank you, sorry for not making that clear in my post. I only had the battery state of health from Casa Grande available for two of them, and couldn't fit the description of the situation in 750 characters ;-) Would you know what the delta between the range test results and Casa Grande was for the other two vehicles?
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  24. Instead of using the average of the estimated range band for new cars by Nissan, Tony used the highest value of 84 miles as the "new" car spec to skew the results in his favor. The Nissan technical bulletin said a new car should travel an "estimated" 76-84 miles when consuming 4 miles/kWh. Ergo, any car that drove 76 miles at 4 miles/kWh meets "new" car mileage specs.

    Using 76 instead of 84 like Tony did you find:

    1) three of the 12 cars performed as well as a new car would.

    2) half of the cars were within 5% of "new" car specs

    3) eleven of the twelve were with 10% of "new" car specs

    4) The worst car, the one that traveled 78% of the distance of a new car had 29,000 miles on it.
     
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  25. The test results were within a percentage point or two of battery state of health determined by Nissan for several cars, which is indicative of good accuracy of what was essentially a demonstration of real-world autonomy.

    Russ, instead of endlessly arguing this and insinuating that a deliberate error was made, please take a brand new Leaf, submit it to the same test protocol, and report back your findings. What you will find is that 84 miles correspond to 21 kWh of usable battery capacity, which is typical of a new car. Good luck with it.
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  26. To create brand loyal customers from buyers, you MUST create goodwill. Posting 100 mile range on your adverts while falling back on legalese and "disclosure statements" to cover your arse when those numbers never materialize is the best way to lose them. Nissan took the gamble and it is coming back to haunt them. I hope they get it right on the next iteration with the newer "better and less expensive" battery.
     
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  27. ? 99% of all Leafs have no accelerated aging by Phoenix's oven-like heat because they are not in Phoenix. There is nothing wrong with the Leaf design. The Volt recalled 8000 cars. If 10% of the Leafs in Phoenix need recalled, that's about 1% of all Leafs on the road. Big deal.

    10% of the cars tested by Tony had inaccurate gauges, suggesting that 10% of the cars in Arizona may have inaccurate gauges.

    They picked a nice round attainable number to market. Range is a function of how you drive. At 80 mph you won't get very far. At 30 mph you can exceed 100 miles. If it were not for the exponential nature of wind resistance, we could all go 40 mph on a bicycle. Yet the concept remains incomprehensible to the average citizen. I saw this coming
     
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  28. Mr. Perry, Several of those Phoenix Leaf vehicles are in the first 300 actually delivered, hence they have been on the road for over 18 months. THAT is NOT "high mileage" at all, since it is less that 12,000 per year. Get REAL and be honest. No more corporate "spin." PLEASE. Nissan's efforts here are undermining the whole of the electric vehicle introduction. Clearly the Leaf is losing more battery capacity in those hotter settings. PERIOD. We have both a Leaf (VIN #320) and a Volt (VIN #679). There is no way that I could recommend a Leaf to a driver there in Arizona even though ours here in SacraHOTo has had no problems at all with battery degradation. But we have cool nights and many, many, fewer days over 100 degrees.
     
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  29. While I'm glad that Nissan's Mark Perry finally made a public statement about the issue, it's not what has been hoped for. I'm not sure if I agree with some Mark's
    statements. A claim has been made that the Casa Grande cars had significantly lower mileage than indicated. As John said in his article, let's see what happens next and hope for the best. Nissan needs to address the issue honestly and heads-on if they hope to be a major player in the EV market.
     
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  30. @Georges: FYI, I've added the following update to the article text above.

    "UPDATE: After this article was published, Nissan used the actual mileage of the seven cars in the test to provide additional data. "The average mileage for the cars investigated was 19,600 miles, and the average in-service time was 14.7 months," wrote the company's Katherine Zachary. "Average annual mileage [of those cars] is about 16,000 per year, more than double the average Phoenix customer mileage of 7,500 miles per year."

    Thought this might add to your discussion.
     
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  31. Our car that went to Casa Grande had 20,803 miles when it went for testing. These miles were put on the car over the course of 16 months. You don't need a calculator to see that is far below 19,000 per year. I have seen the miles drive/delivery date for 2 other cars, and they are averaging about 12,000 miles per year. Maybe they did another Casa Grande study? Maybe someone at Nissan is playing a joke on Mark Perry by feeding him completely false information?
     
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  32. Also, our car had no more than 25 miles put on it while away for 'testing' which means they did not do an end to end range test on the car. They performed the same bench tests that made them think this problem wouldn't exist in the first place.
     
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  33. @AC: FYI, I've added the following update to the article text above.

    "UPDATE: After this article was published, Nissan used the actual mileage of the seven cars in the test to provide additional data. "The average mileage for the cars investigated was 19,600 miles, and the average in-service time was 14.7 months," wrote the company's Katherine Zachary. "Average annual mileage [of those cars] is about 16,000 per year, more than double the average Phoenix customer mileage of 7,500 miles per year."

    Thought this might add to your discussion.
     
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  34. Here is a post from MNL by DesertDenizen, which seems to refute the claim that the problem only afflicts high-mileage cars that have not been treated right:

    "I lost my first capacity bar today. Only 6,771 miles. Manufactured 6/21/2011, took ownership 7/25/2011. Received all 5 stars at my first annual. I only charge every other day or so. I start to charge at 6 in the morning and usually leave around 9 so my Leaf doesn’t even spend much time at 80% charge. My Leaf has spent 90-95% of its time between 3 and 8 SOC bars. My long term average is 5.7 m/kwh and I drive on the frontage roads, not the highway, so I never exceed 45 mph. Exclusively in Eco. It is parked under a carport. Tucson is about 6 degrees cooler than Phoenix."
     
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  35. The Leaf owners independent test found that some of their cars actually did have bad gauges. My guess is that MNL also has an inaccurate gauge. He only has 7,000 miles.
     
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  36. Russ, I helped with the independent test. While some of the readouts were unexpected, capacity bar losses were largely in line with the measured range loss, with some exceptions. The first bar constitutes 15% capacity loss per Nissan's 2011 shop manual. Even if you assume some error in this capacity gauge, it's pretty clear that this owner experienced sizable capacity loss in one year of ownership and near ideal operating conditions - with the exception of heat. Nissan has never publicly released how much usable capacity a new Leaf should have. Likewise, they never shared cycle life and temperature specs for the AESC cells. This has all of us guessing, but considering the level of noise from Arizona, they have a heat problem.
     
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  37. George,

    "...capacity bar losses were largely in line with the measured range loss, with some exceptions."

    That's what I said.

    Nobody said that heat wasn't a major factor.

    I read your report. One car had 29,000 miles on it.

    Two of the twelve met Nissan specs. One was within 5% of specs. One was within 10% of specs, all but one had more that 80% of original capacity.

    New Actual % mileage
    80 59.3 74.13% 29,000
    80 66.1 82.63% 17,500
    80 67.3 84.13% 22,500
    80 69.3 86.63% 23,000
    80 69.7 87.13% 12,500
    80 71.8 89.75% 11,500
    80 71.8 89.75% 15,000
    80 72.5 90.63% 14,000
    80 73.5 91.88% 17,500
    80 76.6 95.75% 7,000
    80 79.6 99.50% 2,500
    80 79.7 99.63% 16,000
     
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  38. According to Nissan, they are ALL within specs, and normal. Those two of the cars were manufactured in 2012 were specifically intended to be the cars that went 84 miles (not the 80 you specify; if you want the actual Nissan figure, use 76-84).

    I have DOZENS of test runs similar to what we did in Phoenix) on my previous LEAF (and my current LEAF, that the car will go 84 miles. Unfortunately, both 2012's were already down on range from new, which in itself is a HUGE problem (both manufactured in April 2012, and my "Black782" was specifically tested when new, and demonstrated multiple times to meet that 84 mile standard in June 2012)
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  39. Tony Williams said:

    "...According to Nissan, they are ALL within specs, and normal ...George, actually 4 of the 12 cars were at Casa Grande."

    By "all" you mean the four they looked at. I'm sure they were within specs. But because they were not "new" they of course, would not likely meet "new" car specs. There is a big difference between a used battery being within "used battery" specs based on mileage, acceleration, speeds, charge rates, and temperatures, and a battery that is within "new" car specs--a car with one charge that has never moved.

    3 of the 12 performed like new, 4 more performed to within 5% of new all but one was within 10% of new.

    A car with 12 bars went as far as one with 10, both met new specs.
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  40. Enough of this armchair quarterbacking! Have a look at the results that were presented by a Nissan engineer to one of the participants in the Phoenix range test. His car drove 73.5 miles during the test on September 15. According to your theory this is at about 92% of spec, which is perfectly fine. Right? Wrong! The Nissan chart shows this car at 85% state of health, about 2-3% below what's expected in Phoenix and 5% below projected US fleet average: http://bit.ly/UvBAJd

    http://bit.ly/UvBAJd
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  41. There are more comments in this thread
  42. I read the Tony et al study. The results based on the Nissan bulletin used in the study that estimated 76-84 miles at 4mile/kWh:

    1)three of the 12 cars exceeded new car specs.
    2)some gauges actually were off.
    3)half of the cars were within 5% of new car specs
    4)eleven of the twelve were with 10% of new car specs
    5)the worst car, the one that traveled 78% of the distance of a new car had 29,000 miles on it.

    No one in this comment field has suggested that heat isn't the main contributor, and neither has Nissan.
     
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  43. Mark Perry's statements are an outright fabrication, and Nissan should be horribly ashamed for this debacle. All the cars at Casa Grande were NOT high-mileage cars. My Leaf has 15K miles and is due to lose its third bar any day now. Our range, in only 13 months, has severely diminished, and isn't the result of "gradual loss" or "instrument error". We are now at the amount of loss Perry said we'd see after 5 years of ownership in Phoenix, not 1 year. I will never own another Nissan if this is the kind of treatment they give to their customers after they made a mistake. These packs should've had an active thermal management system, and they should have warranted the packs for at least 5 years. Shame on you, Nissan.
     
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  44. @James: Because it's not quite clear from your comment, your Leaf is one of the seven that was tested at Casa Grande?
     
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  45. @James: FYI, I've added the following update to the article text above.

    "UPDATE: After this article was published, Nissan used the actual mileage of the seven cars in the test to provide additional data. "The average mileage for the cars investigated was 19,600 miles, and the average in-service time was 14.7 months," wrote the company's Katherine Zachary. "Average annual mileage [of those cars] is about 16,000 per year, more than double the average Phoenix customer mileage of 7,500 miles per year."
     
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  46. If they say this is normal, then BEVs have no saleability. Might as well turn the lights out on them, lock the door and leave.

    Question, Mr. Perry -- why aren't high mileage LEAFs from cooler climates showing these problems?

    Nissan - currently trying out for the part of the villain in the upcoming film, "Who Killed The Electric Car, Part 2".
     
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  47. 19,000 miles is not a lot of miles when compared to what you would expect to drive in a traditional ICE auto. I would like to see an independent test done on cars with greater than 25,000 miles and document there locations within the continental USA to see if there is a trend toward higher degradation of batteries in the states that average the hottest weather. I am skeptical of Nissan’s reporting that all the batteries degradation is along a line where it is expected to be since some users have reported 30,000+ miles in Seattle as well as some northern states with little to no loss in driving range and capacity bars show full charge on the battery. Like others have said I would be reluctant to buy a Leaf until the battery issue is resolved
     
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  48. Didn't you read the article? He did acknowledge that:

    "...Those projections, based on battery testing during development of the Leaf, assume the car covers 12,500 miles a year, in climates largely similar to those of Los Angeles (50 to 90 degrees F, with an average temperature of 68 or 70 degrees).

    Phoenix has also just had one of its hottest summers ever, he noted.

    Looking at 450 Nissan Leafs now in Arizona, Perry said, using data each car transmits to a Nissan control center, it appears that Leafs in Arizona are "on a glide path" to average battery capacity of 76 percent after five years rather than 80 percent..."
     
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  49. I've read the article, and I don't find it convincing. Last thing I heard out of Mark Perry was 'expect 5% loss in the first year, then it will level off'. Well, many owners in my area, myself included, are seeing about 10% decline after the first year. I'm an electrical engineer, I babied the battery, and see twice the loss Mark Perry projected. I'm sorry, but I take anything this man says with a very large grain of salt now.
     
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  50. Just another reason to buy a Volt while waiting for the $30k Tesla...
     
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  51. Honestly, I would love to buy the fantasy car called the Fisker Atlantic at $50-55K. Just drove a Karma today. Interesting. Big, heavy, fast, wacky buttons and colors. It grabs eyeballs but once the first date hangover would wear off, I would wonder what I had done to myself if I bought one. Pretty bad mileage, uses engine for sport mode (screams when you punch it) but the batteries should be stable since they are A123 and have cooling infrastructure (TMS).

    One guy at today's Plug-in America event in Maryland drove his Leaf over 85 miles to the event. Part of it was 55mph and 50psi tires. But on the east coast, Leafs don't seem to be losing bars.
     
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  52. I drove my LEAF (that was in the Phoenix test as "Black782") for 96.7 miles to the National Plug In Day event in Orange County, California. It is down 10% in range since manufacture in April 2012. I use 44 psi (max limit), and arrived with about 9 miles remaining. No climate control, and 45-50mph. In the Phoenix test at 64mph indicated on the speedometer (100kmh ground speed), my car went 76.6 miles.
     
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  53. Tony,

    76.5 miles at that rate of energy use is within 5% of what the Nissan technical bulletin estimates you should have gotten. In other words, there is nothing wrong with your car.
     
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  54. Russ, honestly,myoud repeated yourself over and over. MY CAR WAS ONE OF TWO CONTROL CAR IN THE TEST !!! That means that they are presented as the BEST. I suspect I'm wasting my time with you with an information, because it sounds like the only response from you is "all is normal". We get plenty of that from Nissan.

    My "information" to you, and the readers who are a bit more open to information, is that my car, Black782, has a range 10% less than when new based on actual performance; not parsed Nissan data.

    Whether you spew out "normal", or "within spec", or whatever other platitude you may have, 10% loss within 4 months is just a fact.
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  55. Tony, Nissan has confirmed that the cars in the Phoenix area will have more heat stress on their batteries, but your 10% loss is not a fact. The fact that you didn't go as far on one trip is not proof of range loss because there are hundreds of variables that impact mileage.

    You returned one car that you thought was damaged, got another, and although you said on your blog the "car has never been exposed to the heat of Phoenix," you think it is also damaged. What are the odds? I'm an experienced mechanical engineer. Are you familiar with the term "statistically significant sample size?" Did you understand the significance of having one of your cars with 12 bars go as far as one with 10 in a sample size of 12 cars?
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  56. Yes, I believe that the multitude of folks, which scrutinized the results for several days on mynissanleaf.com, realized the significance of the point you just made. That's why Tony reviewed the handwritten results sheets and noticed that the car in question, Blue534, traveled 75.7 miles instead of the 79.7 miles he reported earlier. That's about 10% down from new car performance, and less than the two control vehicles. That said, I just wanted to acknowledge that you are clearly the smartest guy in the room, and we would be completely lost without your well-meaning advice. With that out of the way, could all please move onto something more productive?

    http://bit.ly/UvSdoa

    http://bit.ly/UvSdoa
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  57. There are more comments in this thread
  58. Volt is a fine car if you don't mind the price, four seats, and 33 mpg when on a road trip. I swap my Leaf for my wife's 50 mpg Prius for those trips.
     
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  59. @Russ: Curious where you get the 33-mpg figure from? The EPA rates the 2013 Volt at 37 mpg combined in range-extending mode (35 mpg city, 40 mpg highway), and that number was borne out by our road test 18 months ago.
     
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  60. Hi John,

    Good point. A quick Google search turned up the headline "Ouch! First Extended Volt Test Yields 33 Mile EV Range and 32 MPG"

    I just went back and read the article under the headline: 31.67 mpg city, 38.15 mpg highway, for 35 mpg combined, which does not support the headline, as is often the case. Mileage will vary, and with the Leaf, so will your battery life ; ) Let me rephrase my original comment:

    Volt is a fine car if you don't mind the price, four seats, and 38 mpg (combined) on a road trip. I swap my Leaf for my wife's 50 mpg (combined), five seat, Prius for those trips.
     
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  61. http://www.voltstats.net/ has fleet average of 36.41 and 35.41 mpg median value. These are real-life numbers collected by Volt owners in charge sustaining mode.
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  62. Well, I have taken many of the so called 100 miles trips where Leaf can't get me there and Prius is worse in cost per miles in that 100 miles range since my Volt returns 40 miles electric and gets me 37mpg.

    Volt also drives far better than Leaf and Prius. I guess if you don't care about handling, acceleration and braking, Leaf and Prius combination is fine. But I will take my Volt over those two in "driving dynamic" anyday...
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  63. Xiaolong Li

    Some prefer not to pay so much to drag around gas, a gas tank, reciprocating engine, oil, oil filter, oil pump, air pollution control equipment, radiator, radiator fluid, spark plugs, spark plug wires, fuel pump, fuel injectors, and on and on when 99% of the time a Leaf will get you there with none of that.

    Meh, Leaf beats Volt 0-30, ergo, Leaf is more fun to drive in the city ; ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkgio9YvOfo
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  64. There are more comments in this thread
  65. Russ,
    Most Volt drivers I talk to are reporting over 40 mpg when the gas engine kicks in. We have both the Volt and the Leaf from January 2011 and our Volt always returns 40+mpg under ICE operation.
     
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  66. No car always returns the same mileage. One can't use anecdotal mileage in these discussions. A Prius owner will show up who gets 55 mpg and on it goes.

    You have to compare third party to third party. The EPA is the best source for doing that which gives 38 and 50 combined for Volt and Prius respectively. 38 mpg for a hybrid is an indication of the amount of engineering compromise the design required to achieve 30 miles on just battery power.

    I think the Volt is a fine car. I just like to point out what was compromised from an engineering perspective.
     
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  67. I live in San Antonio and if you look at the National Weather Service's reported number of cooling degree days as a measure of relative heat you can glimpse the problem with Arizona Leafs. I've always considered it hot here in SA but if you compare San Antonio with Phoenix you can see that Phoenix is in a class of it's own as far as heat is concerned. I looked at August 2011 on the NWS website and SA had 780 CDD while Phoenix had 1039 CDD. Cooling degree days are the measure of the average daily temperature that is over 65 degrees F. SO, Phoenix is probably an outlier by a large margin over what most people would consider hot. Even Dallas was hotter than SA in Aug 11 at 887 CDD and Las Vegas at 904. Phoenix is in a class by itself.
     
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  68. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=psr

    Check out cooling degree days in your city and compare it to Phoenix. You will see heat won't be an issue for 99.9% of you.
     
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  69. In Aug 2011 and Aug 2012 Phoenix had 10 days of high temps over 110F. Most of the other 20 days were over 100F. In Aug 2011 they had 10 days of daily AVERAGE temps over 100F and 9 days of over 100 in Aug 2012.
     
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  70. Great stuff, Jim

    Thanks for the information.
     
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  71. Jim, Russ: cooling degree days are not a good measure of battery performance relative to climatic conditions.

    What you have to do instead is look at the amount of time spend in different 10-degree wide temperature bands, apply Arrhenius Law, and compute the effective temperature. What you will see then is that, roughly speaking, batteries degrade three times faster in Phoenix when compared to Seattle. The daily peaks or even averages have no bearing here.

    According to some information an owner gleaned from a conversation with a Nissan engineer, normal degradation seem to be 10% in the first year. Given the climatic patterns, this translates to 5% in Seattle and 15% in Phoenix.

    http://bit.ly/citytemprofiles
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  72. You lost me George. Jim is pointing out that the hottest places, like Phoenix, will tend to have more problems than a place like Seattle.

    You claim he is wrong, then say the same thing:

    "...roughly speaking, batteries degrade three times faster in Phoenix when compared to Seattle"
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  73. I don't claim that he was wrong, thats's what you made it out to be. I'm merely pointing out that we found a reasonably good way of modeling effective temperature, and that cooling degree days have limited usefulness in assessing climatic impact on battery temperature, which is what you both seem to be after.
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  74. There are more comments in this thread
  75. Another from the NW, I will pass 22,000 miles today and just passed 20 months of ownership and have no degradation to speak of. now, will say battery capacity is affected by heat and AZ is still warm enough to be affectly slightly. I experienced a 2-5% loss of capacity all Summer only to have it come back when the weather turned colder.

    either way, the mileage stance is questionable. if you have 20% after 5 years at 12,000 miles a year and the degradation is not linear and assuming 10 the first year and 2.5% the next 5 years and 24,000 miles representing 12.5 % expected loss, then half exhibited more loss.

    another note; most had 15,000 miles OR LESS. so the high mileage statement needs a review
     
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  76. The high miles argument is faulty. How come those in the Pacific Northwest can add 40,000 per year and experience minimal degradation, while those in AZ with 19,000 miles are experiencing much more.

    The answer is in front of us. It's heat. Not miles.

    Clearly operating a vehicle while it is suffering from heat exhaustion will only make a bad situation worse, so yes miles do matter if the car is having a heatstroke.

    Nissan are giving us half truths. hopefully they are just buying themselves time until they can engineer a remedy. That hope fades with each passing day.
     
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  77. He acknowledged the heat issue. That's why he said cars in that area can expect more loss.
     
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  78. So, Leaf is basically "limited" in hot climate?

    That is really going to "Help" the case of spreading EVs around the world...

    Why doesn't Nissan just add active cooling/heating of the battery like JUST ABOUT EVERY AMERICAN DESIGN FROM TESLA, FORD TO GM...
     
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  79. 76% in five years instead of 80% in Arizona. They may end up offering a thermal system package for hot climates. By not having one, Leafs in places other than Arizona cost less and get better mileage.
     
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  80. That is my problem with some of the today's EVs. They make way too much "trade off". In pursuit of range and mileage, they give away too much in cost, amenity and performance.

    Personally I prefer Tesla's approach. Sure, I can't afford a Tesla S yet. But I am looking forward to the $30k Tesla.
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  81. What will they do with the wornout battery packs in a couple of years. Is there replacement battery packs because the life of the entire car should surpass the life of the battery pack. Do nissan have a battery pack recycling plant or they never think of that and they are just cashing money from goverments all over the world to sell faulty battery packs that will endup polluting the landfills. Please be responsable and do not buy polluting car anymore from gm, nissan, honda, mercedes, ford, etc. Also boycott nascar and formula one and lemans and indy as they are dinausorus brands that pollute the air, soils and water.
     
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  82. @Andre: Good question, but in fact carmakers already have programs set up to recycle electric-car battery packs. Just as lead-acid 12-Volt batteries are the most recycled consumer good on the planet, the nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion packs will have value left after their use in cars. And lithium is actually an inert and essentially non-polluting substance, unlike the documented health hazards of lead, so your worries are unfounded.
     
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  83. Comment fields can be strange places. Some of the commenters have convinced themselves that Nissan did not acknowledge the heat issue, when they clearly did. And others believe Nissan is trying to lie about the mileage of the cars tested, as if they would get away with something that blatant. From my Leaf owner's manual:

    "...NISSAN estimates that battery capacity will be approximately 80% of original capacity after five years, although this is only an estimate, and this percentage may vary (and could be significantly lower) depending on individual vehicle and Li-ion battery usage...To prevent damage to the Li-ion battery do not expose a vehicle to ambient temperatures above 120 degrees F for over 24 hours."
     
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  84. My LEAF only had 10K miles/year (I STILL LOST 20%,1BAR)
    always just charged to 80%
    parked in shade at work and home.
    never fast charged
    Drive light, average 5.6 miles/Kwh since new

    STILL LOST 20% from HEAT in AZ !
     
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  85. If you treat it like a baby then you're going to have a baby. On the other hand, drive it like a bat out of hell and you'll escape the heat... of hell?
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  86. The test by the Leaf owners a few days ago found that some of their gauges were way off. That might be your problem since you don't push your battery hard. Have the dealer check it out.

    Nissan acknowledges that heat is a major factor, and things like high speeds, high annual mileage, etc exacerbate the degradation, as the owner's manual also warns.

    If heat were the only factor, there would be 450 Leafs in Arizona with bars missing from their capacity meter.

    Nissan projects that Leafs in Arizona will have shorter battery lives. In Fairbanks Leaf owners would have lower than average range because of cold weather.
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  87. Russ, and how do we know how many cars are missing a bar in Arizona? Anecdotal evidence collected on the owners forum suggest that the overwhelming majority of Leaf suffer a capacity bar loss in Phoenix. We ran into a random Leaf owner while staging the range test last weekend. He was missing three bars and volunteered the car for the test. I realize that you like the Leaf and are for electric vehicles. Unfortunately, it appears that you have spent very little time looking into the issue and are merely repeating what Nissan's press release says.
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  89. Russ, this was a reference to high heat, as encountered in paint shop ovens and other places. Operational and ambient storage heat in garages and elsewhere was never called out. Owners in Arizona signed the same "expect 80% capacity in 5%" disclaimer as owners in other locations.
     
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  90. You signed a waiver that stated all Leafs everywhere, no matter how many miles they have on them, or how many charges, regardless of ambient temperature will lose exactly 80% of capacity in five years?
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  91. Yes, that's exactly what I did. I'm not inventing any of this, and quite honestly, your pontificating is getting tiring. If you are as fervent an EV supporter as it seems, please realize that this technology is still in its infancy and far removed from mass adoption. It would behove us to work through the teething issues instead of accusing each other of 'not getting it'.

    http://bit.ly/leafbatterydisclaimer
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  92. Here are some quotes from your waiver link:

    "The rate of reduction cannot be assured ...this is not guaranteed. This number may be higher of lower depending upon usage and care. Factors that will affect and may hasten the rate of capacity loss include, but are not limited to: exposure to very high ambient temperatures for extended periods of time etc etc."
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  93. There are more comments in this thread
  94. Here is a comment from one of the affected owners whom I met last weekend. The high mileage claim does not appear right:

    "On the July 23rd, when our car was taken to Casa Grande for testing, it has 20,803 miles on the odometer. We purchased our car on March 21, 2011, 16 months prior to the test. This equates to 1300.1875 miles per month or 15,602.25 miles per year.

    According to the Federal Highway Administration (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm) the average US driver, in our demographic drives 15,291 miles per year.

    I have seen the milage and manufacture date for 3 of the other Casa Grande cars, and they are WELL below 19,000 per year."
     
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  95. @George: To add (a little) more data from Nissan, here's the update I've added to the article text. I'm putting in a handful of different comment threads, since most commenters won't go back & re-read the article itself. FYI.

    "UPDATE: After this article was published, Nissan used the actual mileage of the seven cars in the test to provide additional data. "The average mileage for the cars investigated was 19,600 miles, and the average in-service time was 14.7 months," wrote the company's Katherine Zachary. "Average annual mileage [of those cars] is about 16,000 per year, more than double the average Phoenix customer mileage of 7,500 miles per year."
     
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  96. Further proof that nobody should live in the desert in Arizona, sucking the Colorado River dry to make gold courses, lawns and flower beds where none were ever intended.
     
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  97. oops, golf courses...
     
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  98. Beyond making "suggestions" and creating a global advisory board; does Nissan have additional plans to scientifically collect statistically meaningful data? Reporting the milage of 7 owners who have filed inquiries vs. mileage of other vehicles in an area does little to establish a statistical correlation and ease concerns.

    Owners want to know "what" & "why" some vehicles are effected, even if it is not their personal vehicle. Since reports seem to be constrained to only a few geographical areas; are there plans to supplement instrumentation in a sample of vehicles to quantify the effects of their operating environments? Data would help to ease fears by owners worrying about what appears to be effecting only a small percentage of vehicles.
     
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  99. So the only way the Arizona Leaf owners can get by with 76% capacity retention is to only drive 7,500 miles per year??? I would say that makes the car not very useful. I don't know why 16,000 miles per year (average) would be considered a lot. It is only 30% higher than Nissan's assumed mileage of 12,500.
     
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  100. It isn't that simple. It's a statistics problem. For example, the car in the Leaf owners' test that went the furthest (and met new car specs) had 16,000 miles and was showing 10 out of 12 capacity bars. Nissan simply stated that the cars tested had 150% more miles than the average car in that area, the conclusion you drew from that is not valid.

    The average American drives just 1,000 miles more than the 12,500 number assumed for Leafs.

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm
     
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  101. So 76% capacity loss after 5 years is based on 37,500 total miles in Phoenix??? Wow. Seems like a very important thing to disclose to customers.
     
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  102. No, it is a 24% capacity loss instead of a 20% loss on average after 5 years for Leafs in Arizona. Your conclusion that they must drive less than 7500 miles a year to achieve that is based on the preceding overly simplistic conclusion. For example, the car in the Leaf owners' test that went the furthest (and met new car specs) had 16,000 miles and was showing 10 out of 12 capacity bars.
     
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  103. Mr. Perry, a Nissan marketing executive may be correct; however, some of us who have been around electronics for awhile, believe the battery chemistry used by Nissan is fine and should handle the charge and discharge cycles fine. Do you think Nissan's Leaf Battery Monitoring System is at fault? Are the hall-effect sensing devices, that could also be heat sensitive, cause the charging system to not fully charge the batteries? If so, it would be an easy fix.
     
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  104. Hall effect devices are heat sensitive; not "could be". All cars in our test were the same temperature.
     
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  105. "Looking at 450 Nissan Leafs now in Arizona, Perry said, using data each car transmits to a Nissan control center, it appears that Leafs in Arizona are "on a glide path" to average battery capacity of 76 percent after five years rather than 80 percent."
    Per Andy Palmer, this is based on 7,500 mile/yr driven, only 60% of what an average car is driven annually.
    I can only drive my car 60 miles on a charge now and my car is 15 months old at 15,000 miles. My battery will need replacement at 30 to 36 months when I'll still have another 24 to 30 months of payments on this $40,000 disaster. Why aren't you helping buyers like me Nissan? Please don't buy a LEAF.
     
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  106. What does Nissan say when you actually ask Nissan the question? What does Nissan say when you ask about the 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty on the battery?
     
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  107. I've driven a LEAF in Austin,Texas for about 18 months with no problem. My LEAF arrived with the notorious Texas drought and was, in a sense, baptized by fire, since we had a couple of months when every day reached 100 degrees. Nevertheless, in those 18 months, I haven't lost any bars on my battery's overall-capacity gauge. Based on my driving patterns and experience so far, I expect to be able to drive the car on this battery pack for several years, but I'm a low-mileage driver. As the article reports, the complaints are mainly from high-mileage drivers in hot climates. The main issue seems to be the lack of clear communication from NIssan about what drivers can expect in different climates and under various conditions.
     
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