Last week, Nissan gave an official response to the handful of Arizona drivers of its 2011 Leaf electric car that had experienced the first signs of battery capacity loss

A week on, with more reports from owners claiming a lost battery capacity bar and in two instances, two capacity bars, Nissan continues to stand by its statement. 

We first became aware of the issue back in May, when owners on the MyNissanLeaf forum started to report that the battery capacity gauge on their cars was showing at least a 15 percent loss in capacity.

In one case, this had happened after just 13,633 miles and one year of ownership. 

In its official response to us last week, a Nissan spokeswoman told us there were “a few isolated cases where a very small number of consumers are reporting a one bar loss,” but that “the battery will have 80 percent of its capacity under normal use after 5 years.”

Since we published the original story, we’ve heard from many Leaf owners frustrated with Nissan’s statement.

Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules

Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules

“I live in Dallas, TX,” wrote one reader in an email to us. “Exactly a year from purchase and 20,206 I lost my first capacity bar. It happened yesterday.”

“It is no longer ‘isolated’ to Arizona or a few cars,” they told us. “I have pictures of the gauge if you want them. And it is a far cry faster than the ’20 percent in five years’ Nissan states.”

Looking deeper, we discovered yet more cases of Leafs with lost capacity bars, including unsubstantiated reports that at least two cars in Arizona have now lost not one, but two capacity bars. 

So, we contacted Nissan again, this time to ask if it had anything to add to its previous statement, and if it would advise owners to visit their local dealer if worried.

“Our original statement still applies to the questions you’re asking,” our contact at Nissan reiterated. “If the car is treated as outlined in the owner’s manual, you can expect 80 percent of the battery capacity after 5 years. Variables including driving conditions and habits could make that number higher or lower.”

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

By our math, there are currently no more than 20 Nissan Leafs we’re aware of at the time of writing that have experienced any capacity loss. Most, but not all are in Arizona, with the quickest example of battery capacity loss appearing after just 9 months of ownership.

Admittedly, that’s a small number compared to the total number of Leafs now on the road of the U.S., but is likely to be of little comfort to those Leaf owners who live in warmer climates like Texas, Southern California and Arizona. 

It’s too early to make any rash conclusions about the Leaf's battery pack either, since data has yet to be gathered on all the battery capacity loss cases.

However, with all of the cases we’re aware of taking place in warmer climates, it does underscore the crucial importance of knowing how and when to recharge your electric car, not to mention the effect that charging a Nissan Leaf in hot conditions can have on its battery. 

Should Nissan be doing more to address these (admittedly rare) cases of battery capacity loss so early in a Leaf’s life? Do you have an Leaf that has lost its capacity bar? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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