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Nissan Launches Global Leaf Advisory Board For Better Electric-Car Understanding

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2012 Nissan Leaf

2012 Nissan Leaf

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For the past few months, Nissan has been investigating cases of premature battery aging and lost range in its Leaf electric car, particularly in hot climates like Arizona.

Amidst continuing pressure from Leaf owners, however, and with the results of an independent Leaf range test proving that some Leafs have lost range in hot climates, Nissan has finally asked the electric car community for help.

In this case, help comes in the form of well-known electric car advocate Chelsea Sexton, and an independent global advisory board Nissan has tasked her with founding. 

In an official announcement made on Saturday afternoon, shortly after Nissan’s Mark Perry suggested that battery capacity loss of Arizonan Leafs was due to high mileage, Nissan’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Carla Bailo, explained the board’s purpose.

“Recently, we’ve asked Chelsea Sexton, a passionate advanced technology advocate, to convene an independent global advisory board,” Bailo wrote in an open letter to Leaf owners. “Members would be selected by Chelsea, not Nissan, and they would recommend their own mandate, but our hope is that they would hold up a mirror to us and help us be more open and approachable in our communications and advise us on our strategy.”

Former salesperson for General Motors’ EV1 electric car, Sexton has had a long-standing career in the world of electric vehicles as both an advocate and an industry advisor. 

Sexton previously served on a specialist advisory board for General Motors prior to its launch of the Chevrolet Volt, and is known and respected for her candor and knowledge of plug-in cars.

Sexton is expected to pick fellow board members in the coming weeks.

Chelsea Sexton

Chelsea Sexton

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"Thank you, I really appreciate it- and fully understand the emotions involved. Part of why it’s frustrating to watch some of these issues fester is because we all want so much for this to work in the first place,” wrote Sexton in response to a MyNissanLeaf forum post wishing the advisory board good wishes in its quest. 

“I’m also open to suggestions for the advisory board- folks who’d be particularly good at it, things you’d like to see us focus on, etc.,” she continued. “I’ve got some thoughts, obviously, but always happy for input.”

What would you like to see the Leaf advisory board work on? What issues do you feel are important in improving Nissan’s reputation in light of recent Leaf-related events?

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below. 

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Comments (11)
  1. I think there should be more transparency on the battery testing data and what battery life we should expect from the LEAF under various conditions.

    Of particular interest would be, is the LEAF battery degradation significantly worse than the battery degradation in other modern EVs (e.g. Mitsubishi i, focus ev, model s). Is the LEAF the canary in the coal mine for modern EVs or just an outlier.
     
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  2. An advisory board could turn out to be very useful, apart from what's going on in Arizona. I've been seeing lots of good suggestions for Nissan on forums like MyNissanLeaf regarding marketing, selling advice for dealers, and hoped-for features in the car. After the heat/range issue is resolved at some point, Nissan could be equipped with a very valuable independent channel of communications with real-world drivers, that won't just be marketing. Sometimes, the most valuable friends are the ones who are the most honest with you.
     
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  3. Agree. Hopefully this independent channel is not just for communication, but includes collecting and sharing real data. Having transparency and sharing real-world engineering data is in best interest to all parties in the electric vehicle community.

    The LEAF is the largest fleet of an EV model deployed over the largest geographical area. Much can be gained by studying this unique fleet with routine data collection of the vehicle operating environments and variations in driver patterns.

    Big "thanks" to Chelsea Saxton for stepping into this important role for the electric vehicle community.
     
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  4. Welcome Chelsea, anything we can do to help. I have extended the geographical range of Leaf's by recently bringing a UK one to Jamaica, (where is seems to be causing quite a stir to get legal, cars seem to be defined here as having an ICE). It seems an ideal climate for batteries, not nearly as hot as Arizona I am glad to say, and never cold. I'm hoping for some company soon.
     
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  5. I see the advisory board is global in reach which is quite a charge to take on. The board should have a diverse membership across the globe as a result of that.

    I believe there are several important areas the board should work on.

    1. Quick Charging. A global standard isn't available yet. Chademo/SAE/Tesla are all contenders. I believe quick charging is key to acceptance by the mainstream car owner to accept this technology.

    2. Employer based level 2 charging. Many of the Level 2 units currently available in the US are installed at retail outlets where cars spend a fraction of their time. Employers need to be encouraged to adopt.

    3. Transparent communications for issues with Nissan EV's. Early adopters need to be engaged not stiff armed
     
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  6. Nissan should take a page from "GM's playbook" for the Volt. With the confirmed "fire after crash testing" of the Volt, GM went into overdrive to reconsider the protection of the battery pack AND even offered to "buy back" any Volt that the owner was concerned about. GM then recalled all early production Volts and did a "rebuild" on the battery protection packaging.

    What is Nissan doing when there is absolute evidence of unanticipated and significant battery degradation, enough to make several of the cars in Phoenix now dysfunctional for the owners? Nissan is DENYING any problem.

    Kudos to GM for doing much more pre-delivery complete road-testing and then taking aggressive (and many of us would say ...unnecessary) post-delivery fixes.
     
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  7. "What is Nissan doing when there is absolute evidence of unanticipated and significant battery degradation, enough to make several of the cars in Phoenix now dysfunctional for the owners? Nissan is DENYING any problem."

    Not unanticipated. Nissan refused to warranty battery degradation, and furthermore emphasized that degradation would depend on many conditions including frequent rapid recharging, and high temperatures. This should have been a red flag for Arizona purchasers.

    Their cars are NOT dysfunctional, just reduced range as expected. EV buyers need to understand the limits and characteristics of batteries.
     
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  8. Roy, while this is generally true, Nissan was deliberately vague when it came to the disclosure of battery performance, lifecycle and the role climatic factors. More to the point, every Leaf buyer in the US, regardless of the location, was presented with the same identical disclosure form stating that they should expect 80% of the original battery capacity after five years of use. It's becoming apparent that there are significant regional differences and battery capacity diminishes at significantly higher rate in Phoenix than in other locales. This was not clearly disclosed or explained. Many owners are left scratching their head, unsure how the battery will be influenced by their local climate, and what type of lifecycle they can expect.
     
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  9. I read about one Tesla customer debating about whether the 40 or 60kwhr battery pack would be sufficient for his rather long commute that would be near the limit of the advertised range of the 40kwhr battery. For him, even the 60kwhr would be risky when you take into account several years of degradation, unexpected excursion and a sub zero late night return in a snow storm. The 40kwhr Tesla is a City car, not intended for extensive highway commutes. EV buyers need to understand and account for battery limitations.
     
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  10. Forgot to add that he was counting on charging at both ends of his commute (lives in one city, works in another).
     
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  11. Focus on development of fast charging stations or all-electric car sales will languish forever. Take it from a LEAF owner.
     
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