How Long Will A Tesla, LEAF, Or Other EV Battery Last?

3 weeks ago by EVANNEX 74

Tesla

Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S 

HOW LONG WILL MY TESLA BATTERY LAST?

It’s a question that’s on the mind of every electric vehicle buyer: how long is my battery going to last? Yes, in some cases batteries can fail, and in all cases, they lose capacity with age (both mileage and calendar age). Certain factors can cause them to lose capacity faster – extreme heat is one, as some Arizona LEAF owners learned back in 2012. Most EV-makers, including Tesla, warrant their batteries against malfunctions or defects for 8 years. In response to its Arizona embarrassment, Nissan now also warrants its batteries against capacity loss (less than 70%) for 8 years.

*This article comes to us courtesy of Evannex (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.

It’s important to keep in mind the difference between battery malfunction and capacity loss. If your Tesla battery stops working altogether within 8 years (there’s no mileage limitation), the company will repair or replace it. When it comes to the inevitable gradual loss of range however, you’re on your own – as far as we know, no automaker other than Nissan offers any warranty against capacity loss. Fortunately, a new Tesla starts out with plenty of range, so even if you lose 5 or 10 percent after a few years, you should still be able to make your daily commute. But most of us would like to have some idea of what kind of range loss we can expect.

If the folks at Tesla have any figures on average capacity loss – and they probably do, considering the masses of data that the vehicles continuously beam back to the mother ship – they aren’t telling. Automakers simply don’t tend to make that kind of information public. Fortunately, Tesla owners have taken the matter into their own hands. Maarten Steinbuch and Merijn Coumans, in cooperation with the Dutch-Belgium Tesla Forum, created a public spreadsheet that allows Tesla drivers to post information about their remaining battery capacity (and you can participate via Google Docs). Users don’t simply enter information every time they charge – rather, they drain the battery to near zero, then charge to 100%. This is theoretically the most accurate way to determine a battery’s true capacity. The project was begun in 2015, so it now has enough entries to show some definite patterns.

Tesla

Tesla’s battery pack (Source: Charged)

Ben Sullins, in a recent installment of his Teslanomics podcast, took a deep dive into the data and created a handy interactive chart, which allows you to pick individual cases out of the cluster, to see the results measured by vehicle age or by mileage, and to break the data down by region.

Tesla

Looking at the impact of charge cycles on battery degradation and how it reduces vehicle driving range (Source: Teslanomics)

So, what’s the answer to the $64,000 (and up) question? Well, apart from a very few outliers (one poor soul was down to 85% capacity after only 32,000 miles – he must have been doing something wrong), the data points clump together quite nicely, and it appears that most users are retaining over 90% of their vehicles’ original range, even after the odometer rolls well into the 6 digits.

Tesla

Tesloop’s Model S has driven heavy mileage via its city-to-city limo service

Plug In America has a similar survey going on, and it has found roughly similar results (though it doesn’t have as many high-mileage vehicles in its database): most drivers are retaining over 90% of original capacity. There are anecdotal accounts of users getting even more impressive results – the shuttle service Tesloop reported back in September that one of its Model S had passed the 200,000-mile mark (in one year!), and had lost only 6% of its original range (it had also had zero maintenance costs, other than replacing tires and the 12-volt battery).

Looking at the the lifespan of a Tesla battery and how long it will last (Youtube: Teslanomics by Ben Sullins)

Now, a statistician would tell you that none of this amounts to a true scientific survey. Participants in the Steinbuch and Plug In America projects are self-selected, so they may or may not represent average Tesla owners, and there’s no way to check the accuracy of the data they report. Furthermore, Model S has only been around since 2012, so we have no idea how a 10-year-old battery will hold up. As is true of anything to do with cars (or life, for that matter), your mileage may vary. However, as far as it goes, the data paints a pretty positive picture – battery degradation seems to be a manageable issue, even for high-mileage drivers. And future vehicles’ performance is likely to get even better. We know that Tesla is continually striving to improve its products – the new 2170 battery cell that’s used in Model 3 may well have greater longevity than the 18650 cell on which all this data is based, and Tesla is expected to eventually transition its entire fleet to the newer cell.

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Source: Teslarati via Teslanomics

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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75 responses to "How Long Will A Tesla, LEAF, Or Other EV Battery Last?"

  1. Ziv says:

    It may very well be that most packs will lose more capacity due to calendar life rather than charge cycles, which is a good thing.
    The good news on the GM and Tesla front is that we haven’t got enough years of data to tell how the calendar life will impact the life expectancy of the packs, but from the Roadster and the early Volts, “Quite a long time!” might be the answer to “How long will the packs last?”

  2. Brian Smith says:

    Nissan’s capacity loss warranty isn’t eight years, its 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.

    1. Brian says:

      You’re dating yourself. That was true of the 24kWh battery only, which is no longer available in new cars. The 30kWh battery is 8 years / 100,000 miles.

      However, the threshold is 8 capacity bars, not 70%. From what we can tell, that’s closer to 65%, but really it’s whatever Nissan decides it should be. In other words, a very weak warranty.

      1. Warren says:

        After 25,000 miles, my 2011 Nissan LEAF SL was down to 79% battery capacity. Definitely lost quite a bit of regen, and charging capacity/speed. Look at my chart here. Starting at 20% SOC and 45kW, my charge already starts to taper barely 2 minutes after starting.

  3. Nick says:

    75% capacity remaining in my 2011 LEAF after 89,000 miles.

    Downsides:
    Almost no regen makes car worse to drive.
    Quick charging is now much slower.

    Still pretty good!

    1. Brian says:

      Not bad. I’m at about 80% on my 2012 Leaf after 42k miles. The lack of regen is a real disappointment. Don’t have the QC port (no CHAdeMOs nearby anyway). Otherwise, it still drives like new.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Why would loss of 20% make regen low? I assume you’re able to use DCFC at > 40 kW when it’s below about 50%, I would think you would still have strong regen until then.

        If you mean weak regen when the battery is “full” at close to 80%, sure, that’s understandable. But that was probably true even when new (full = 100%)

        1. Brian says:

          I couldn’t tell you the technical reason. All I know for certain is that as my battery ages, the available regen gets less and less across all SoCs. I assume that it has to do with Nissan’s software, but could not tell you why they programmed the car that way. You are right, a DCQC will provide more power than the regen (even new, it maxed out at 30kW), and for a much longer time. It doesn’t make sense.

          1. SparkEV says:

            If it maxed at 30 kW when new, what is it now after 20% degradation?

            SparkEV max out 30kW without brakes applied, but about 60kW when brakes are applied. Maybe Leaf without braking get less with more degradation, but just as much with brake applied?

            1. Brian says:

              Looking at just the max is a little misleading. I can, under ideal conditions, still get close to 30kW. I would guess about 27-28 based on the meter in the car. But what I’ve found is that most situations simply have less regen available.

              Take an example. Say I am traveling down the highway at 70MPH on a warm (70F) day. I reach my exit, so I start decelerating in ECO (broken out to B mode in 2013+ Leafs). When new, I would easily see 20-25kW of regen. Now I am LUCKY to get 15kW. Usually it’s 10kW until I press on the brake, and then it MAYBE gets to 20kW.

              1. SparkEV says:

                Thanks for the info. Wow, 20kW is pretty light. I hope Nissan does something about it, especially since DCFC is far more. There will be lots of used Leaf with some battery degradation coming to used car market, and such light regen isn’t good.

                1. Djoni says:

                  I confirm the weaker regeneration as it age.
                  It has never been awesome anyway.
                  Regeneration diminishes because there is less capacity available to charge and aging affect internal resistance.
                  83 K miles on my 2012, SL and the SOH is at 81%
                  The only way I can get 30 kW of regeneration is to have less than 30% SOC remaining and an ideal battery temperature, about 70F°

                  The car still drives great, but the battery…well, not as much as it could be.

      2. KenZ says:

        I must be one of the lucky ones. My (purchased used at 34,000 miles) 2013 SV now has 47,250 miles on it and still all 12 bars. Obviously it must have lost SOMETHING in range, but it’s nothing that I can notice.

        I think due to Nissan’s lack of cooling, it probably depends on how you change and discharge. I never fast charge, and basically only deplete it 50% 2x/day: I drive 34 miles to work, charge at 110VAC, drive 34 miles home, charge at 220VAC. Must be helping somehow in terms of mileage per capacity loss. The 2013 battery probably helps too; unsure if it’s a lizard, but so far so good.

        The airbag sensor failure & windshield wiper pump on the other hand: not impressed.

      3. jim stack says:

        I have found the LEAF is the only big time loser. In over 3 years with the Tesla S 85, FORD Focus EV, Chevy SPARK EV and KIA SOUL EV (2 yrs) we have had zero loss in the Phoenix HEAT where our PHX EAA does it’s real word testing. Drive to work park in the Sun 8+ hours and drive home.

      4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “I’m at about 80% on my 2012 Leaf after 42k miles. The lack of regen is a real disappointment.”

        I wasn’t aware that is an issue. Thanks to you and Djoni for the info on that.

        It does seem strange to me that this would have such a large effect on the ability of the car to perform regenerative braking. Obviously there is a limit to how much power the battery pack can either output or absorb, but I would have expected regen to drop due to battery aging no faster than the car’s ability to accelerate.

        I’d be interested to see if anyone can shed some light on why the ability to perform regenerative braking would drop significantly faster.

        1. SparkEV says:

          I have a hypothesis if it’s due to increase in battery internal resistance.

          If the regen circuit is designed for some fixed peak voltage that would result in about 30 kW regen with new battery’s internal resistance, higher internal resistance would reduce the current. Since the voltage is fixed, lower current would result in lower power (linearly related to R). But DCFC voltage can be varied to keep the current constant, hence able to charge like new, at least to taper point.

          One could test this hypothesis at DCFC by looking at the voltage of old vs new battery Leaf. If the voltage is much higher on old battery, then battery internal resistance along with too low regen voltage is probably the reason.

          Question is, do all EV degrade regen as the battery is degraded, or do they have higher voltage regen circuit with feedback loop that compensates for higher battery internal resistance?

          1. Brian says:

            Intriguing Hypothesis. I have no way to test any of this but would love to see results if anyone can.

          2. Bill Howland says:

            I doubt the ‘high internal resistance’ is the reason. The roadster, when almost dead, had such high resistance that the air condtioner autonomously started to cool it off.

            But regen was never a problem at lower state-of-charges.

    2. Ziv says:

      If Nissan had decided to replace your pack, would you have gotten a refurb or a new pack? I am wondering what the people that have seen their early Leafs capacity dip below 65% have seen when Nissan replaced the pack.
      Any chance those lucky Leaf owners will get a pack with more capacity/AER than the original pack?
      Used Leafs look like a huge bargain, if there is a way to buy a new/refurb pack at a reasonable price.

    3. Brian says:

      Someone please tell me why does regen go away or lessen after high miles?

      1. Tom says:

        Regen is affected by the batteries ability to take a charge…less ability to take a charge creates less resistance for braking…someone correct me if I’m wrong…

        1. SparkEV says:

          Except DCFC power is about the same at least at lower state of charge in one Leaf I saw at DCFC. If battery degradation cause lower power absorption, it should also decrease DCFC power, which it doesn’t.

  4. alohart says:

    BMW USA warrants the i3 battery pack against more than 70% capacity loss over 8 years or 100,000 miles.

  5. Devin Serpa says:

    What’s going on in that first picture?

    1. DJ says:

      The Leaf is charging the Model S.

      They’re gonna have babies 🙂

      1. Nix says:

        LeafletS

        *grin*

    2. AlanSqB says:

      That’s most likely an Andromeda Power ORCA. Mobile CHAdeMO booster that allows the user to “rescue” another EV. andromedapower.com

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Previous coverage at InsideEVs here:

      http://insideevs.com/andromeda-power-introduces-chademo-jumpstarter-for-evs/

      The marketing for the system makes it seem like anyone could carry this around in the rear of his EV on the off chance that he might need to give a boost to a stranded PEV (Plug-in EV), but that’s rather unlikely. It’s a very heavy, bulky system, and I would guess also quite expensive.

      According to their website, it looks like the target market is EV fleet operators.

  6. KevinZ says:

    I’ve seen some 2013 LEAFs for sale that still have 12 capacity bars.

    1. CLIVE says:

      That is because they were charged on Level 1 most of the time.

      1. Fabian says:

        What about Level 2?

        Does L2 also degrade the packs like Level 3 charging?

        1. CLIVE says:

          Not really.

          Not nearly as bad as those Level 3 Abusers.

        2. SparkEV says:

          It’s more about full charge and temperature than L1/2/DCFC. If you charge Leaf in middle of hot summer day using L1/L2 and keep it at 100% (still plugged in) at 100F+ heat, you will degrade the battery more than if you used DCFC in much cooler climate and drove right away to much less than 100%. This is why some Leaf in AZ (few DCFC back then) had severe degradation while those in CA with lots of DCFC did not have as much.

          Anecdotally, my SparkEV with lots of DCFC use has less degradation than another forum poster who only used L2. I rarely charge to 100% using any form of charging, maybe 5 times in 2 years. SparkEV’s TMS makes ambient temperature moot, so I can guess that it could be charging/storing at 100%.

  7. Jonathan Brusco says:

    The three biggest variables to life expectancy of your pack are (1) Age (2) Heat (3) Cycle count.

    There’s little you can do about age. Perhaps there’s no chemistry that mitigates this impact, but regardless, this is unavoidable. Doesn’t matter if you have a 24kwh Leaf or a 100kwh P100D.

    When it comes to heat, most of this can be resolved via the TMS (assuming your car has one) but other things can play a role as well such as keeping your car at a high state of charge for long periods of time, or using a lot of Quick Charges. Either way, with TMS is definitely better than without.

    Lastly, there’s cycle count. The main variable to this is the size of your pack because if it is smaller, you’ll cycle it more frequently for similar mileage. In the case of the chart above, 500 cycles on a Tesla with 250mi range is 125K miles, whereas 500 cycles on a Leaf is 42K miles. Furthermore, as the battery degrades the speed at which it cycles is higher, also the less efficient it gets at regenerating energy.

    I’m just shy of 50K miles on my 2015 24kwh Leaf and have 11% loss, whereas the Tesla chart above shows about 10% after 100K+ miles.

    1. Roy_H says:

      No, cycle count is a poor metric. During testing cycles are typically 90% to 15% and this is relevant, but in use it is better to charge your car every day (don’t wait til it gets to 15%) and don’t charge over 90%. Keeping charge/discharge away from extremes is the best policy. Many shallow cycles is better than fewer deep cycles in terms of battery life.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “Many shallow cycles is better than fewer deep cycles in terms of battery life.”

        Entirely correct. Those who wait until the battery is almost drained before recharging it, thinking that will extend battery life because it results in fewer charge cycles, will find that actually ages the battery pack faster. Always charging to (what the car says is) 100% capacity isn’t good for battery life, either.

        Depth of charge/discharge (as a percent of the battery’s full capacity, which diminishes over time) is just as important as number of cycles.

        There’s a reason why the old rule of thumb for charging li-ion battery pack was 80%/20%; that is, don’t charge past 80% and don’t discharge past 20%. Even shallower charge/discharge cycles will likely result in even longer life. Of course, charging to less than 100% will reduce the car’s range, so that will also reduce the car’s usefulness. It’s a tradeoff; maximum life for the battery, or maximum range for the car on a daily basis? You can’t have both.

        Smart BEV buyers will buy a car with a range comfortably above the maximum they need for everyday driving, so they don’t have to charge to 100% on a daily basis, and only give the car a 100% charge when they’re planning on a long trip.

        1. Rightofthepeople says:

          “Always charging to (what the car says is) 100% capacity isn’t good for battery life, either.”

          Why is this? My understanding is that all BEVs have a reserve at the top and bottom of the battery, so charging to 100% isn’t really charging to 100%. If that is the case, why is it bad for battery life to charge to 100% (which isn’t really 100%)?

          I’m asking b/c I’m not en engineer so I don’t have any technical knowledge on the matter, so any light one can shed on this would be greatly appreciated.

          1. Ambulator says:

            It’s a trade off. It’s best to keep the charge at some particular level around 50% but then you have no range. The car manufacturer wants to show the highest range possible so they push the limits as much as they can. You’re better off not using all of it unless you really need it.

            It doesn’t help that the EPA has ruled that if you are given a choice in charging your car the EPA range can’t be the maximum, or at least it couldn’t. I’m not sure if that has changed or not.

          2. SparkEV says:

            It’s a rule of thumb. Leaf supposedly has 22 kWh available out of 24 kWh (about 90%). Since “0” won’t be true zero, leaving some margin at low end would mean the top would have to be almost 100%.

            2015+ SparkEV is even worse; usable capacity hovers around 95%! Assuming 5% margin on bottom, the battery would charge to 100% when it says it’s 100%.

            The way I see it, anything beyond about 80% of LiIon is “overcharging” the battery. That’s about the point you transition from constant current charging (constant number of charge carrier movement) to constant voltage charging (forcing few straggling charge carriers).

          3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “…all BEVs have a reserve at the top and bottom of the battery, so charging to 100% isn’t really charging to 100%. If that is the case, why is it bad for battery life to charge to 100% (which isn’t really 100%)?”

            This isn’t a matter of “Yes or no, is charging to 100% (or 90%, or 85%, or even 80%) going to age your battery pack too fast.”

            It’s not a binary, yes/no question; it’s a matter of degree. The subject in question is “Depth of Discharge”, or DoD. The shallower the DoD, that is the shallower the charge/discharge cycle, the better for battery life. In theory, if you could do let’s say 60/40, that would be considerably better than 80/20. But that’s not very realistic; a 60/40 charge cycle means you’d have to stop and recharge every time you used 20% of the battery capacity, which would be only ~20% of the car’s full range. Obviously that’s not going to work for most people!

            The most important point here, I think, is to refute the assertion seen all too commonly that “A larger battery pack than you really need is just wasting money.” That is absolutely not correct. A larger capacity than your daily needs means you don’t have to charge to 100% every day. If you can charge it to (for example) only 80%, and not let it fall below 20% before recharging, then you’re going to find the pack lasts longer than it does for someone who uses it harder.

            Of course, we must also give a caveat here: This assumes all else is equal, which is rarely the case. If you live in an area where it gets hot and stays hot for many days during the year; if you commonly leave your car outside instead of parking it in a garage at night; if you take lots of road trips and use DC fast charging a lot… all these things will tend to make the pack age faster.

            This subject is really too complex to cover in an Internet post; it can and has taken up many long articles. Here’s one more variable: The batteries which LG Chem is putting in the GM Bolt EV are said to be able to tolerate a bigger DoD than other li-ion batteries. So not all battery packs are created equal!

      2. Jason says:

        I’m not sure this is correct. Of you do a complete cycle (say 90%-15% as suggested) that is the same as doing 2x half cycles. So you can either cycle 2000 times (in this imaginary example) or 4000 half cycles and that should be the same effect on battery, all things considered.

        So cycle will be a function of range, eg 10,000mi of full cycles (regardless how those full cycles happen in context of multiple half cycles, quarter cycles,etc) plus age (batteries degrade naturally over time) plus abuse like leaving the car at 100% for extended times, plus abuse like heat.

        It is pretty complex, but you should clearly see this sort of result from cars that do same shirt of miles each year, in same climate, should have similar battery degradation. Has anyone done that sort of analysis?

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “So you can either cycle 2000 times (in this imaginary example) or 4000 half cycles and that should be the same effect on battery, all things considered.”

          No, that is not correct. Depth of Discharge (DoD) is an important consideration for battery life. The further you “push” a li-ion battery toward 100% or 0%, the more stress you put on it and the faster it ages.

          * * * * *

          Let’s consider, to make the math easy, a 100 kWh battery pack.

          Example 1: A single charge/discharge cycle of 90/10, which means charging to 90% and discharging to 10%. That gives a DoD of 80%, and you will have used 80% of that 100 kWh pack, or 80 kWh.

          Example 2: Two charge/discharge cycles of 70/30, which means charging to 70% and discharging to 30%. That gives a DoD of 40%. That means you use 40 kWh. Do that twice and you will have used the same 80 kWh as in Example 1, but you’ll stress the pack less because you didn’t “push” it as close to 100% or 0%.

          All else being equal, using a shallower DoD (Depth of Discharge) will give the battery longer life.

          It’s a complex subject. Just remember that when someone says that a battery cell or battery pack has been tested at X number of charge/discharge cycles, what they’re talking about is how battery manufacturers normally test batteries, which is at a fixed DoD, usually a pretty high one. Probably not 100/0, because li-ion batteries wear out very fast that way; but perhaps 90/10 or 80/20.

          The way to extend battery pack is to “baby” the batteries by not stressing them as much as their manufacturers do when testing them. Yes, using a shallower DoD will result in more frequent charging to go the same number of miles. But it will also extend battery life.

          It’s certainly not true that putting it on the charger more frequently will wear out the pack faster, unless you’re charging it to a high level every day. In fact, many EV owners recommend putting the car on the charger every day if possible, to keep the pack charged to 80% as much as possible. That way, you’re less likely to stress the pack by running it down near 0%.

          * * * * *

          That’s not to say that if you occasionally charge to 100%, when you need to do a long road trip, or if you occasionally drain the pack almost to nothing when you’re driving home, that this will cause the pack to age prematurely. Don’t worry overmuch about what is done to it only occasionally. But if you do that on a regular basis, then yes that will cause your pack to age faster than it should.

          There was a comment to another recent article here at InsideEVs, relating a complaint supposedly made by a Tesla Model S owner, who was (according to this report which wasn’t first hand and may or may not have been true) claiming that Tesla had reduced the rate at which his Model S could Supercharge. Well, after a bit of discussion it turned out he was Supercharging the car like 20 times a month, which certainly would put more stress on the battery and would cause it to age faster than normal.

          This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone with common sense. If you abuse your gasmobile, if you use it hard on a daily basis and don’t give it better than average maintenance, then you can expect the engine to wear out faster than it would on an average car. Likewise, if you drive your Model S so much that you need to visit Superchargers 20 times a month, then of course that’s going to age the pack faster than average.

          As Robert Heinlein said: TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!

  8. jheartney says:

    We bought a late 2013 Leaf S last summer (12k miles), which is now about 19k miles. Still have all bars. Always home charged (mostly Level 2).

    1. KevinZ says:

      That shows that 4 years of age doesn’t impact the battery life much.

      1. CLIVE says:

        Correct.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        I have not seen any reports indicating that we’ve started to see the effect of calendar life on EV batteries. Keep in mind the oldest production BEVs still in use, the 2008 Tesla Roadster, is still less than 10 years old.

        I’m sure we’ll start to see signs of calendar life aging eventually, but apparently (knock on wood) the batteries being used today have a shelf life of at least 10 years, and hopefully longer. However, different PEVs (Plug-in EVs) use different battery chemistries, and those chemistries vary from year to year in some cars. So what applies to one model in one year may not apply to another model, or even a different year of the same model.

        Unfortunately this is a “buying a pig in a poke” situation, and will remain so until EV battery tech matures, which almost certainly won’t happen for many years or likely even decades. We won’t know what the calendar life of batteries in new PEVs is, and once cars are old enough that we’ll have the answer, new cars won’t be using that exact battery chemistry anymore.

    2. Douglas l. White says:

      Similar story here. My 2013 SL had 16k when i bought it, now has over 20k. Rarely charge to 100%.
      Rarely go below 20 miles left. All level 2 charging, and always drive ecoB mode. Getting 120mpge
      and car is super fun to drive with few, if ANY problems. I walked out of the dealer at $13,000 for everything, and it was a Certified Pre-Owned, so everything has been covered (even the windshield that had some scratches). I’d have even MORE fun with it if my wife wouldn’t stop stealing it and leaving her Volvo keys on the table for me. .

  9. Nix says:

    I don’t know how accurate this still is, but here is one chart from the nice folks at GCR showing what the warranties were as of the end of 2016. Of the cars they list, about half seem to have some sort of degradation warranty:

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1107864_electric-car-battery-warranties-compared

  10. Ruby says:

    Hi everyone!

    I’ve been hanging out on this site for over a month now, and find the community here to be informed and awesome. I’m getting ready to make my first leap into owning an electric car and am hoping for some input on a fuzzy sort of question.

    I would like to buy my EV used. If I decided to do that, I particularly like the Leafs’ battery replacement program, and I am one of the odd ones who likes the way it looks. But I am open to other vehicles. I live in Reno, home of Gigafactory 1, which is also a four hour drive to San Francisco.

    There are many appealingly priced Leafs in San Francisco that I could pick up today. But with the Bolt surging in popularity, and the Model 3 about to roll out (I understand to Tesla employees first, which would be a lot of people here in Reno), I am wondering if I should wait until the end of summer to possibly see a glut of the “less desirables” on the market at even better prices.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I’m a low-maintenance kind of person, I don’t need much. Of course, I would like the car to be reliable, and have decent range, but it would mostly be for around-town errands and work. I just strongly believe that EVs are the way to go, and would like to decrease my footprint in the most affordable way possible. Thank you in advance to all you savvy folk.

    1. WadeTyhon says:

      Hey Ruby,

      Good to see you’re switching to EV! The leaf is a good EV although it seems to have issues with warm climates since the battery has no Thermal Management System.

      If Reno has pretty mild weather during the summer then you should not have as much of an issue over time. But try to get a Leaf that is as new and as low mileage as possible.

      Since you mention San Francisco, if you ever plan on traveling in your EV, then you probably want to go with a Plug-In hybrid like a Volt, Ford Energi model or BMW i3 Rex if you cannot afford a Tesla.

      While DC fast charging is growing along the coasts, it’s mostly clustered in only major cities for the rest of the US. Tesla offers the best experience right now for long distance BEV travel, but its cost prohibitive.

      If you have a second car and your EV will be just for around town then a Leaf, Kia Soul EV, VW e-Golf or Chevy Spark EV would all be good cars. (But check with your local Kia, VW or Chevy dealer to make sure they will service your car if you go with one of those.)

      1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        GFO-15-601 and GFO-15-603 are placing DC chargers on most of California highways at least every 70 miles or so. Sure the it would be way too slow for regular travel, but not impossible if you really want it.
        https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1VEJLK0-wcAhWV8Q0MirTLULd5mg&hl=en_US&ll=37.98861216578826%2C-120.56994767343747&z=6
        http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/GFO-15-601/

        1. WadeTyhon says:

          Certainly not impossible. Definitely not pleasant as you mention. 🙂

          A Longer range, newer BEV like a Bolt or Tesla would make charging over a 220 mile trip only a minor event.

          Even an IONIQ would be pretty do-able. Keep a low speed and it would be 1 or 2 charges of 45 minutes each way. But driving ~220 miles in a used leaf would require charging every 50-55 miles or so.

          I only bring it up since she mentioned San Francisco specifically. If she has another car, or the leaf is only for around town, then it’s a moot point lol

    2. DJ says:

      I think in general the more longer range and reasonably affordable cars there are the cheaper the lower AER BEVs will be. The Leaf is already so much cheaper in comparison to other BEVs of similar range largely because of issues with the earlier batteries and the bad name they gave the Leaf.

      While I would suspect other non-Leafs to drop in price when say the Model 3 comes around I don’t personally think the Leaf will drop much because it’s already so darn low.

      You can usually find 12-bar off-lease Leaf’s for sale for not much more than an 8-9 bar. I personally think it’s probably worth the extra bit up front but that is because I would need the range. If you don’t than it may not be worthwhile. Just know in winter that as Reno gets cold your AER is going to drop a lot so make sure whatever you get can handle that, i.e. don’t expect 80 miles out of a Leaf in winter, or heck even 60 probably and you should be ok.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “There are many appealingly priced Leafs in San Francisco that I could pick up today.”

      The reason you can find so many cheap Leafs is that the Leaf is an EV with an inferior battery pack, so demand is low. Unlike nearly every other production plug-in EV out there, it has no active cooling system (aka TMS, or Thermal Management System).

      If you live in a region where it never gets very hot in the summer, and you take the time and effort to learn about how to “baby” the battery pack to extend its life (avoid DC fast charging, and using shallow charge/discharge cycles), then you might be one of the lucky ones who will be happy with the Leaf. But I’d say at best that’s a gamble.

      Whatever cars you are considering, I strongly advise checking them out at Edmunds.com, and read any long-term driving test reviews and some customer reviews there. You might also check out the Kelly Blue Book reviews; they have video reviews posted online.

      Personally I never think it’s appropriate for one person to tell another what kind of car he or she should buy. Choosing a car will always be a highly personal decision, based on your needs and wants. But if it was me, I’d look elsewhere than the Leaf. If you can’t afford to buy used Tesla Model S through Tesla’s CPO program, then I suggest you at least take a look at lesser-known, but longer-ranged, BEVs such as (for example) the Kia Soul EV and/or the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. It will be harder to find those on the used market than a Leaf, but again the reason it’s so easy to find a used Leaf is that so many people are trying to get rid of theirs.

      Alternatively, consider a Volt. It’s a PHEV rather than a BEV, but still many people can do most of their driving within its electric range. A used Volt might be a better buy for you, depending on your exact needs, if you can put up with its tiny size. But if you buy a used Volt, you should get a pre-2016 model, because the second-generation Volts (2016 and later) have been reported to be less reliable.

      All just my opinion, and I do encourage you to take the time to do your own research. You know better what you want and need than anybody else does.

      1. MT says:

        You’re the first I’ve seen say the second generation Volts are less reliable.

        The biggest difference between them for me is that the second generation models run on regular gasoline rather than premium. Here, regular has been about $2.30 a gallon lately, and premium about $3.20. Even though I wouldn’t use much fuel, that’s a huge difference.

        1. William says:

          Second generation GM Volts are having some, not a lot, of reliability issues. Many first geneation Volt owners, that have switched to the second generation Volt, have noticed GM has not put as much quality into certain components.

        2. BenG says:

          Yeah, the 2016 Volts received a “Much Worse than Average” (1/5) rating from the Consumer Reports reliability survey results.

          2015s also showed a drop off at “Worse than Average” (2/5), while 2012-2014 all scored “Average” (3/5) which is the minimum score to be considered for “recommended” status by Consumer Reports.

          I hope Chevy brings up the quality back up rapidly. I wouldn’t own my 2012 Volt if it hadn’t scored Average at least, but reliability is important to me since I always buy my cars several years used.

  11. wouter says:

    30.000 KM
    4 years old leaf
    still 100% battery

    1. CLIVE says:

      Absolutely

      1. william says:

        I have an “Absolutely” 12 bar 2013 Nissan Leaf SV. 12 Bars and 42 K miles. 3/13 build date-6/13 first in service date. Leaf Spy Pro says 85% SOH currently. There is No chance, I will make it through the So. Cal Summer in LA, without loosing my first bar around July 4th! My fast charge to Level 2 charge ratio is 1:4
        The trick is not to fast charge more than 15 minutes, and not to ever let the battery increase its resting temp. from fast charging by more than 10-15F. Also, try to charge in the early dawn if possible.

  12. darth says:

    3.5 yr old 2015 Leaf. 42k miles, still at 12 bars. I have read on one of these sites that the Leaf will show 12 bars until the battery drops below 85% capacity, so mine is still above that.

    No range loss that affects usage, as my longest trip is about 62 miles to the DCFC.

    1. William says:

      3 1/2 year old 2015 Leaf? Is this the year 2018 or am I behind on my calendar or something?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I have a 2013 SL Leaf. I lost my 8th bar at 32k mi/3 years. I had only about 6QC (done by the dealership after service). Initially, most of the time it was charged to 80%. Later, I had to fully charge, due to limited range. Arizona heat. The old battery was replaced with a new one. The new one looks better.

  14. Tyl Young says:

    88% charge capacity remaining after 70,000 miles in my 2013 Model S. I charge at home on a 240v NEMA 1450 most of the time, although I can just as easily charge on a 120v wall plug.
    12 hours of charging on the wall plug gives me 36 miles a day and that is usually more than enough. So even on a wall plug I gain mileage over time. I set my charge limit to 126 daily unless I’m heading out on a road trip. I’m also fortunate to have a supercharger no further away than 90 miles in just about every direction I head.

    1. Timmy says:

      “2013 Model S” is ambiguous! Especially with so many comments here about the Leaf, which has models S, SV and SL.

      1. Douglas l. White says:

        Leaf cant charge to 126 miles,
        So I’d guess its a Tesla.

  15. Bill Howland says:

    Ok , now I admit I’m totally confused, and I’m on my 5th EV.
    1). Roadster
    2). 2011 VOlt
    3). 2014 ELR
    4). 2012 Volt
    5). 2017 Bolt ev.

    My Roadster, in the four years I owned it, lost just enough battery capacity to compensate for the low-rolling-resistance tires, and decreased Camber on the rear tires (changes I made to increase efficiency – Tesla was so interested they wondered what tires I’d bought).

    Didn’t see too much degredation in the VOLT(S), but then I wasn’t the primary driver of that car so I couldn’t tell you what went on – thats part of the deal – my nephew pays ALL the insurance costs of both cars – I pay nothing – but he gets to drive them.

    But as far as new batteries go, havent lost anything to speak of in the ELR, and the BOLT is new.

    What is totally confusing is these ‘surveys’. Seems like a guaranteed under 3% loss, but then The DIY guy’s Tesla lost 10% the first year, which his ‘Tesla Rep’ said is “NORMAL”, and then 12% for 1 1/6 years.

    If the LG pack chemistry used in the VOLTS and BOLT continue to be long-lived – I bet they’ll get good sales just on battery performance alone… They were a big reason for my BOLT purchase – that of a reliable big battery.

  16. ModernMarvelFan says:

    “as far as we know, no automaker other than Nissan offers any warranty against capacity loss.”

    Really? I guess they don’t know much then.

    Chevy Bolt has capacity warranty so does the Chevy Volt.

  17. Sch says:

    It’s too early to see any significant degradation of Tesla model S batteries. When they reach 1000-1500 cycles we will see.
    There should be enough Leafs that reached 1000 cycles, but the absence of TMS brings too much variation to the data and apparently the Leaf owners aren’t, that enthusiastic about sharing their capacity data.
    I would like very much to see how the EV battery is dying, and there will be some point beyond which it can’t go, Li-on batteries aren’t immortal.

  18. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “…they drain the battery to near zero, then charge to 100%. This is theoretically the most accurate way to determine a battery’s true capacity.”

    Hmph. It’s also a good way to age your battery prematurely.

    It would be nice to get additional data, but I think that Plug-in USA has already had some pretty good coverage of the issue, at least for the Tesla Model S (link below). Not sure about coverage of the issue for other plug-in EVs.

    https://survey.pluginamerica.org/model-s/charts.php

  19. trackdaze says:

    How long? Probably longer than many a transmission, starter motor, injectors, turbo charger, pistons……et al.

  20. David Murray says:

    I’m curious about the new Prius Prime. The battery is not cooled at all (from what I’m told) not even air cooled. And because it is a small pack it will probably get cycled more often. If the pack manages to hold up, then they have a really great chemistry.

    1. BenG says:

      Looks like the Prime’s battery is force air-cooled from the passenger cabin air, which presumably will be air conditioned on a hot day. It also has the ability to run the cabin air conditioner and pull that cooled air over the battery during charging in hot weather.

      Given the smaller battery than the Leaf and the active air cooling I don’t anticipate any problems for the Prime’s battery. Toyota says it is designed to last the life of the car.

    2. BenG says:

      I do expect the Prime uses a highly advanced battery chemistry and cell construction. They have been tightly partnered with Panasonic for battery tech long before Tesla.

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