There’s nothing better than a scientific test to prove or disprove a theory.

So when Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer described the recent reports of battery capacity loss in its Leaf electric car as nothing more than a ‘faulty battery level display’ earlier this month, a group of Leaf owners in Phoenix, Arizona decided to put his claims to the test. 

Organized by electric car advocate and Leaf owner Tony Williams, a mass range test of a dozen Nissan Leafs will be carried out this coming weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, to find out if a loss of capacity bars on the dash equals a loss in range.

Following a set route, Williams and his team of volunteer Leaf owners will test real-world ranges of 12 Nissan Leafs with two or more missing capacity bars, to see if those with fewer capacity bars lit travel as far as those without any indicated capacity loss. 

Using GPS data logging, and the popular third-party ‘Gidmeter’, Williams and his team will compare how each of the 12 Leafs taking part perform, logging essential battery information to figure out if Palmer’s insistance that “We don’t have a battery problem” is true or not. 

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

“I truly hope that the results of this range demonstration will result in Nissan addressing the core battery degradation issue, but I fear that it will only be used by attorneys defending affected owners,” Williams told us earlier today. “Publicly, Nissan appears to be in complete denial at the highest levels.”

Despite Nissan investigating the issue itself, taking several Leafs with apparent premature battery capacity loss for extensive testing in Casa Grande, Arizona, Williams and his fellow Leaf owners remain unimpressed.

“At least one of the affected Leafs that was sent by Nissan to their Case Grande, Arizona testing facility in July was returned with a reset battery capacity gauge, as if to indicate that they had replaced the battery with a new one,” Williams said. “However, it appears on the surface that an outright fraud may have been committed, since it doesn’t appear that the vehicle’s range has improved; only the gauge's now improper reading.”

In order to make the range test as scientific as possible, Williams has devised a set of rules that each driver must follow in order to keep test conditions as consistent as possible. 

These include ensuring the front windows remain less than 2 inches open, with rear windows closed, climate control off, uniform tire pressure and no additional weight. 

In keeping with good scientific practice, Williams has even come up with some predictions about how each Leaf will perform, based on his past observations and Nissan’s own range charts.

Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

At an average speed of 62 mph, Williams predicts cars with no lost bars will be able to travel 84 miles. With two bars lost, he predicts 66 miles of range per charge. 

For the one car with four missing bars, Williams predicts a range of 56 miles before it runs out of charge. 

With Nissan remaining tight-lipped on the subject of battery capacity loss, Williams and his team of volunteers hope Saturday’s range test gives them better insight into what is really happening. 

“We will know very early Saturday morning, one way or the other,” Williams told us. 

Just like the many hundred Leaf owners watching this test, we await the results with interest. 


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