Nissan Responds To Class Action Suit Over LEAF Batteries, Range Claims

5 years ago by Inside EVs Staff 18

Class Action Lawsuit For California and Arizona Says Nissan Intentionally Attempted To Deceive Customers

A class action suit against Nissan in regards to their all electric LEAF has been filed in California.  The suit alleges that the Leaf has a design defect that causes them to prematurely lose battery life, and thus driving range.

Class Action Lawsuit alleged Nissan Promotes 100% Charge Range, But Tells Customers to Only Charge 80% (photo via KPHO 5)

The suit has been filed by plaintiff Humberto Klee on behalf all LEAF drivers in California and Arizona, and it states that while Nissan advertises the Leaf’s range at 100 miles or less, what Nissan doesn’t disclose in its advertising, is that the advertised driving range being promoted is based on the vehicle’s performance on a full, 100% charge.  A 100% charge that Nissan also tells owners they should not do because it could cause battery damage.

The class action says, “Consumers thus were misled by Nissan’s representations regarding driving range without being aware that these ranges were only achievable by charging the battery in a manner contrary to Nissan’s own guidance.”

The suit also expands further to say Nissan failed to disclose and/or intentionally omitted to reveal a design defect in the Leaf’s battery system that causes the Leaf to suffer “widespread, severe and premature loss of driving range, battery capacity and battery life.”

The lawsuit encompasses both 2011 and 2012 model LEAFs in both California and Arizona.  (You can read the entire class action here)

In response, Nissan issued this statement today:

Nissan is aware of the filing of a lawsuit by two Nissan LEAF owners. We believe the lawsuit lacks merit.

We stand by our breakthrough technology and the world’s best-selling electric vehicle. We also acknowledge and are grateful to our customers who have chosen to embark on a zero-emission leadership path with us.

In bringing this exciting new technology to market, Nissan has sought to educate the public and potential purchasers about the unique operating characteristics of an electric vehicle. Nissan has provided information on how the vehicle works, its estimated range, and factors that can affect both range and battery life through many sources, including the Nissan LEAF website, owner’s manual and detailed written disclosure.

While Nissan regrets that a very small number of LEAF owners are dissatisfied, Nissan stands behind its product and consumers, and remains committed to electric vehicle technology. Globally, more than 38,000 LEAFs are on the road and have travelled collectively more than 100 million zero-emission miles. In fact, LEAF customers are some of Nissan’s most satisfied. Just as a pickup truck or a sports car isn’t right for every customer, an electric vehicle may not be right for a specific customer. But if you’re determined to have minimal impact on the environment then an all-electric vehicle remains the only pathway to zero-emissions mobility.

We will update the progress of the class action as it occurs.

Reports Have The LEAF's 24 kWh Battery Pack (LiMnO2) Losing As Much As A Third Of Its Range In Some Cars in Arizona

(Courthousenews, TopClassActions via AutoblogGreen)

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18 responses to "Nissan Responds To Class Action Suit Over LEAF Batteries, Range Claims"

  1. You're joking? says:

    This is SO OBVIOUSLY the oil lobby filing this suit!… You guys are doing a disservice giving them what they seek…. negative publicity about EVs… Great work guys!

    1. EVFan says:

      Not joking – Yeah that’s right. This site should just pitch EVs like good fanboys, throw all issues under the rug, whitewash everything and lie like Big Oil and all the other propagandists out there pretending to be journalists for their selfish ends.

      Nissan is in a pickle because it has not been full disclosure. The free market place of ideas/info/truth is a good thing and will be better for the EV movement in the long run.

      You’d not be saying Good Work to these honest journalists here if you bought a Leaf in Arizona for $35 k and got offerd $14k on tradein a year later with under 20k miles on it would you? Or told there is NO used Leaf market there by another dealer …

      Or do you think like Nissan it’s too bad for those early adapters who placed good faith in Nissan and are now being given mushroom treatment?

      1. Leaf Owner says:

        Who killed the electric car, again… I leased mine. I don’t care.

    2. Bonaire says:

      Negative publicity about Nissan EVs. People do read into things – but this is about and only about Nissan Leaf battery engineering. The cells needed TMS to be healthy and no 100% charging should be done to hurt chemistry.

      They should have used LiFEPO4 (such as A123) and this stuff wouldn’t have happened to them. It’s part of a learning curve for EV manufacturers. The public should be made aware of non-biased media stories. At least here, it’s unbiased. Turn to Fox News or Limbaugh and you will find all sorts of distortions.

      1. George Betak says:

        Great post.

  2. Bill Howland says:

    Its a tough road to hoe but Nissan’s senior management DID LIE on VIDEO as to the capabilities of the car, irrespective of their Legal Documents. I would imagine a good Lawyer is going to have a field day with Nissan’s Video Managerial Hyperbole.

    The reasonable thing is for a person to believe anything a Vice President would tell you, right? Therefore, I don’t see how Nissan’s posture is totally defensible. How much you want to bet they settle out of court? And I in general Like Nissan.

    1. Bonaire says:

      The settlement should be – to get a free replacement with Gen-2 batteries for all delivered 2011 and 2012 Leafs in the first 3 years of ownership. Fisker had to replace all their battery packs – why can’t Nissan handle something like that?

      1. GeorgeS says:

        Totally agree Bonaire.

        I remember they said in the development effort that it would be cheaper to just replace some packs than put in a TMS.

        Well now it looks like it would be way cheaper to replace some packs then get nailed in this lawsuit.

        I totally don’t understand what Nissan is doing.

        I never would have guessed that they would be this bull headed.

      2. vdiv says:

        Because while Fisker had to do it on less than a 1,000 Karmas, Nissan will have to do it on 40,000 Leafs world-wide. This is what happens when you let the bean-counters and the MBAs make all the decisions. Heads should roll at Nissan, and not just Mark Perry’s.

        All they had to do is retroactively warrant the capacity and replace batteries that were affected.

    2. AZ EV_Pilot says:

      Bill, you hit the nail on the head. The Video evidence and the quotes from executives touting this car is damaging beyond repair. Nissan needs to come clean now and offer refunds immediately.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        @az-evpilot

        Thanks for the kind remarks.. I test drove a Leaf, and while being very impressed I was kind of a stickler for a bigger battery. If the battery were 2 or 3 times the size and admittedly a lot more money, I would have bought it hands down. I’m up north here in cold Buffalo Ny, but since the car is garaged I probably would have faired better than people in Tucson.

        I was asked to fill out a survey from Nissan of which they paid me $1 to take it, and one of the 50 questions was “Is there any reason why you would *NOT* purchase a Nissan product?”. I answered “OTHER”, ==>> ” The way Nissan treated Leaf owners in Tucson!”.

        I think that must have shocked Nissan since they now are under the impression everyone in buffalo ny knows the treatment you guys got way down south.

  3. AZ EV_Pilot says:

    As a AZ leaf owner, i went through the sales process and Nissan defiantly Omitted major items that are critical in making an informed buying decision. The oil lobby has nothing to do with this law suit – I know this because I love the promise of EV’s, but Nissan screwed the pooch on this one. Not a leg to stand on except that they lied and withheld. If big oil is involved, it would be on Nissan’s end… Because Nissan messed this whole thing up.

    1. It sure sounds like the “sales process” you went through at the dealer failed to adhere to company guidelines. Didn’t you have to sign a “LEAF Customer Information and Disclosure Form” before you could take possession of the vehicle? In my case, I had to read and sign that form, which included this explicit disclaimer:

      ====================
      Gradual loss of battery capacity. Like all lithium ion batteries, the 2012 LEAF battery will experience a reduction in the amount of electricity or charge it can hold over time, resulting in a reduction in the vehicle’s range. This is normal and expected. The rate of reduction cannot be assured, however, the battery is expected to maintain approximately 80% of its initial capacity after 5 years of normal operation and recommended care, but this is not guaranteed. This number may be higher or 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, driving habits, vehicle usage, and charging habits.
      ====================

      Did the disclosure form you signed not state this? Did you not have to sign anything? Please check your files and let us know. This is a crucial point. If you didn’t have to sign this, then Nissan really dropped the ball when selling you the vehicle. If, on the other hand, you did sign this disclaimer, that I fail to see how Nissan “defiantly omitted major items that are critical in making an informed buying decision.”

  4. Jim I says:

    If that piece of paper was put in front of me to sign I would have laughed and walked away from the deal.

    Talk about a No Warranty Clause!!!

    All this tells me is that Nissan knew the battery packs were not well designed and the legal department wanted to protect their butts.

    If Nissan wants to stay in the EV car business, they need to step up and fix any cars that are really having a problem. And if they are really concerned about bad publicity, they should buy back cars from people that are really unhappy, just like GM did with the Volt.

    Remember the old motto:

    To build the best – At a profit if we can – At a lost if we must – But always, to build the best.

    That is what made the world great. We need to get back to that, IMHO.

    1. That’s right, Jim! Potential customers who, like you, are not willing to accept that disclaimer should NOT buy the car.

      I’m not sure I would call it a “no warranty clause,” but rather a “loose warranty” to explicitly warn owners’ that their own “usage and care” might have a detrimental affect on the rate of reduction in capacity and range, depending upon a variety of factors that Nissan –or any OEM– cannot control after they drive away.

      What I would really like to know is what factors beyond heat and mileage might have accelerated the capacity degradation in those two Leafs that Nissan has now bought back in AZ (driving habits? charging frequency? speed? L2 vs. L3? 80% vs. 100% charging?). I wish that Nissan would release the CarWings data on those AZ vehicles, but… perhaps the company feels it is “private” information to share only with the individual customers when they meet with them to address their complaints.

      1. Jim I says:

        I guess my problem with Nissan’s position is that if 100% charging is a known problem, why would Nissan allow it to occur? Same thing with temperature management. That is simply bad design.

        If they sold cars in AZ, they should work in AZ. Do they expect owners there to put in air conditioning in the garages?

        Trying to pass that off as owner misuse, is not the right way to handle this, IMHO.

        1. George B says:

          The disclosure does not go far enough. It makes vague references to some of the contributing factors, but unless you were an expert in lithium ion battery chemistry, there is no way for you to correctly asses the severity of your local climate and its impact on battery life. While the form does a good job of alerting you to risks, it does not quantify them. To me, this is more of a business challenge than it is an engineering or legal challenge. People want to drive these cars, that much is clear. Let’s find a way to allay their fears about battery life and by extension their automotive investment. There is a number of things Nissan could do to address these concerns, and I’m reasonable certain that most of owners are not looking for handouts. They would like to support this technology, and the manufacturer. Disproportionally affected owners should be offered a reasonable recourse without having to resort to lemon law regulation.

  5. Bruce Burns says:

    I have a 2011(4016th) that only has 5800 miles. I charge at home and already am getting about 85 to 90 reading on a full charge. When it use to read 100 to 105 the real miles in normal So CA driving was 84 miles max. Now I’m almost afraid to venture out as LAX, The Grove, Rose Bowl, San Diego, etc. are all out of my round trip range from Orange County. I know charging stations exist but who wants to sit for 5 hours to allow a trip back home? It’s my understanding that the new second generation battery due is due out next summer and claims a 189 mile full charge. If this is the case then Nissan can offer it to us at a drastically reduced trade price and most people will be satisfied. Maybe this is the new Infinity battery since the all electric Infinity is due out about the same time.