Exclusive Interview With Steve Marsh As His Nissan LEAF Hits 150,000 Miles (Original Battery)

MAY 20 2016 BY MARK KANE 110

Steve Marsh recently crossed a new milestone of 150,000 miles (over 240,000 km) driven in his 2011 Nissan LEAF (with the original battery) in Washington state. Simply amazing.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Earlier, Steve was the first U.S. LEAF owner that managed to reach the 100,000 miles driven mark in late 2013.

Because of the battery capacity fade, the 2011 LEAF is now used only in warmer conditions, while for the colder winter months Steve uses his newer 2014 LEAF.

We had the opportunity to ask Steve few question about the milestone, his LEAF’s current condition, and just some general opinions on the car (and EV tech in general) after so many miles logged.

“Hi everyone – It has taken me a long time to get from 100,000 to this milestone. In October I was at 146,000 and GIDS were 152. I was waiting for better weather as the power draw for heat was just too much.

Tonight when I pull into the driveway the odometer will roll 150,000 miles. My GID count is 147 at full charge and I have 5 bars gone.”

Average range after 150,000 miles:

The 2011 LEAF after 150,000 miles holds 7 out of 12 battery capacity bars (below 60% of capacity) and is rated at 147 GIDS – so more precisely 52% of the original capacity remains. The loss of the sixth capacity bar is approaching.

Steve estimates that the range stands at about 35 miles today on the freeway (but can net a few more miles with economical driving). About half of a new 24 kWh LEAF.

“Average range – everything is generally freeway (little to no traffic) so realistic is 35 miles of freeway.  If I baby it I can get 42 but there is some headwind and I have to move off the freeway and run along parallel roads which adds more time.”

Whether there will be more records up to 200,000 miles?

It would appear notching the last few clicks to hit 150,000 miles was more a proof of capability. Going forward, the newer 2014 Nissan LEAF will take over all the year round driving duties.

Without a battery swap, there will be no crossing 200K for Steve

Without a battery swap, there will be no crossing 200K for Steve

“I am done with the 2011 LEAF as it sits.  I have invested a great deal of time getting the car to 150K miles – sometimes as long as 3 hours if I have had to wait on a charger just to go 65 miles.  I have another LEAF at home and that is what I intend to start using again in the morning.

Some time ago, I told my contacts at Nissan that I would get the car to 150,000 miles.  I’ve now done it so I don’t expect it to get many more miles unless an opportunity to swap the battery comes up.”

Reliability – any problems with the drive unit – motor, inverter, on-board charger, battery – besides lower capacity, or other key parts?

Beside battery capacity fade, nothing big happened:

Long term reliability found to be good

Long term reliability found to be good

Reliability – very good, if not excellent.  That being said, There is no more regeneration – going down a hill in ecomode is like being in neutral.  From a start, it accelerates like there is a parachute hanging out the back while in ecomode but nothing goes back into the battery. 

The only other issue I have had is that the brakes grab and release when applied lightly while the battery is in LB or VLB.  I attributed this to trying to regenerate but no place for the energy to go.  I haven’t taken it in to be looked at because it is only very apparent during specific circumstances that are repeatable.”

Nissan LEAF taxis

Nissan LEAF taxis

Whether the LEAF was a viable purchase after reaching 150,000 miles driven (especially that Nissan boasted that hundreds of LEAF taxi are used in Europe) and whether Nissan’s approach on battery replacement is good from his perspective?

Economics seems questionable to Steve, especially because of value depreciation.

“I purchased my LEAF for purely economic reasons – I’m not an environmentalist.  I wanted to save money.  At the time, I was driving 50,000 miles a year and every car had gone 300,000 miles or more. My logic – If I spent $35K and took a 7500 tax credit I only needed to drive about 250,000 miles to save what the car cost me.  At that point it wouldn’t matter if the resale value was next to nothing.  What has happened instead is I have saved about $12,000 in operating costs and my car is maybe worth $3,000.  Not how I expected it to come out.  A diesel may have got me in the same place at 50 MPG. In hindsight, I wonder if I should have leased the car, paid the overage for extra miles and parted ways at 100,000 miles.  My 2014 is worth about 1/3 what it cost and there is only 35,000 miles.  I am disappointed in the rapid depreciation.

You ask if the LEAF is a viable purchase for 150,000 miles – no it isn’t for a daily commute of over 100 miles.  For 100,000 miles I would say yes.  It may work just fine to 250,000 miles if the average trip is less than 20 miles and it can sit on a charger for ½ hour before the next trip.  In fact it may go a very long time under that scenario but the LEAF was not touted as a commercial vehicle suited for short trips and frequent charging – in fact I had to sign paperwork that said using the QC more than once a day voided all battery warranty options.”

Overall satisfaction from the LEAF, and thoughts about future – Chevrolet Bolt EV/Nissan LEAF 2 with a 60 kWh pack?

Steve said that he is glad that he purchased the LEAF,  and will stay with EVs in the future, but the approach of the dealers, charging infrastructure and other things still need to improve in the future.

“My impression right now.  Nissan has committed a great deal of resources but no one is really excited about it at Nissan.  The dealers certainly don’t seem to be – they haven’t embraced charging infrastructure.  Many charge if the car wasn’t purchased at their dealership.  I think Tesla’s sales model more closely matches what I believe Nissan has in Japan – they can tell the dealers what to do.  Nissan can install QC where they see a need.  As it stands now, there aren’t enough EVs and we are caught in a chicken or egg situation – merchants don’t want to install the chargers without the customers coming to their business and people don’t want to buy the EVs without having chargers available.  Along my commute there is a hotel that has 4 level 2 chargers.  The new manager apparently doesn’t like EVs so he turned off all the L2s.  I think charging is the key to impacting EV acceptance.

Everyone wishes Nissan would "hurry up" with next generation LEAF news (IDS Concept)

Everyone wishes Nissan would “hurry up” with next generation LEAF news (IDS Concept)

I also wonder if Nissan should start talking about what they are working on, instead of keeping everything a secret.  The purchasers are always hungry for news and recently, we had to find out about things through dealer leaks (30kwh and new colors comes to mind).  Tesla is not at all bashful about talking about what might happen and it creates excitement and buzz.

The market has changed over the last 5 years.  I didn’t want to buy a Volt because the price premium to an ICE was similar and I would be burning gas ½ an hour into my commute which didn’t help on the economics. I know nothing about the Bolt except it is small.  As for LEAF 2, I haven’t been following it.  Tesla 3 – clearly there are a lot of people that are willing to wait.  Nissan needs to work on leap frogging the competition rather than modifying what they have now.  I’m not aware of one update Nissan has done to improve performance of existing LEAFs – certainly not remotely.

I am really glad I purchased my LEAF and I don’t plan to move away from an EV for my daily commuter.  If we need to keep an ICE depends on greater range and redundant charging infrastructure.

Our thanks, and congratulations on the milestone, to Steve!

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110 Comments on "Exclusive Interview With Steve Marsh As His Nissan LEAF Hits 150,000 Miles (Original Battery)"

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Nissan should give him another battery…


Seriously, at cost.
You should make your customer happy.
How are they going to keep this guy???

They should do it partly for the publicity since he’s managed to eke 150k miles out of one of their Leafs, and partly so they can do a long term study on the battery degradation issue.

And hopefully they decide to go with a liquid cooled battery management system this time around.


At least Nissan has new battery to replace. The 2015 batteries are with higher capacity and new chemistry that suffer less from heat. The Renault Fluence ze uses the same old batteries and most of the owners which I know, lost half of the original capacity. Yet Renault do not offer any replacement options. They say that this is a normal decay. with such an attitude I wonder who will buy a Renault EV.

Renault europe does lease contracts on the battery so no problems with degradation…

Renault across europe is refusing to replace batteries under lease. That’s the issue.

My thinking is to “NOT” assume the worst & throw the baby out with the Bathwater.. …Sounds to me that there is a power transmission obstruction maybe(Bad ElectricalContact) a short, a bad circuit, or some electrical obstruction other than the Battery itself. I’d get a Thorough Analysis here & “CLEAN ALL THE CRUCIAL CONNECTORS”, The Re-Gen for one , is not slowing down the car & IT SHOULD Wether the battery is absorbing the charge or not,that tells me that the battery might be “More Alive” than the Owner may think….

Or at least a solid refurbished battery… ideally a 24kWh 2015 formula… Mine reports over 100 miles on the guess o meter daily. Driving in eco mode 99% of time, city style mostly with smatterings of fwy driving.

I wonder if they could refurb his pack by replacing the 10 lowest cells. Might get the thing back to useful.


Very Nice catch! I wonder if battery packs are designed for easy refurbishment… Indeed it would be interesting to see the effect of your proposal. Might even be a business case. However I have the feeling that Nissan is not interested in someone “repairing” “broken” battery packs…
In fact I have the feeling that more and more car companies want to keep that money in house and prevent ownership of the batteries (Renault… )

One open source approach could help. Anyone here to design a (modular)18650 battery pack that fits into a leaf? Best with easy replacement of single cells…

Another reason a liquid cooled battery is superior….

They should, it’s cheap for Nissan EV marketing campaign to spend $5500 for the cost of the replacement battery.

At least Nissan has new battery to replace. The 2015 batteries are with higher capacity and new chemistry that suffer less from heat. The Renault Fluence ze uses the same old batteries and most of the owners which I know, lost half of the original capacity. Yet Renault do not offer any replacement options. They say that this is a normal decay. with such an attitude I wonder who will buy a Renault EV.

Indeed they should.

They could make a huge media event out of it, exhibiting that any LEAF owner who reaches 150,000 miles will get a new battery *out of warranty*.

Very few will have the determination as Steve did to reach that mileage. It’s not like Nissan will have to fork out much money and they will retain an owner to their brand who is a good ambassador for their EV.

I wonder if it is worth it to do a battery upgrade. Possibly at some point. How expensive is that and how difficult, since you will have to pay someone. It does show a capability evs have though, in that you can pretty much drive them for decades if you are willing to shell out to update your battery. Your New Leaf, with the better batteries, will be a superior vehicle.

I don’t see how this capability of an EV to continue running if you keep replacing the expensive batteries is a positive compared to the capability of an ICE to run a million miles on its original engine and original transmission without any noticeable degradation in performance, while performing the scheduled maintenance. Just recently, a Toyota Tundra owner who drove about 125,000 miles annually, surpassed one million miles on the odometer with just routine maintenance (oil changes, transmission fluid changes, replacing fan belts, etc.) and no major repairs. BTW, unlike Nissan with Steve Marsh’s LEAF, Toyota bought the truck from the million-mile owner in exchange for a brand new 2016 Toyota Tundra, and reaped the benefits of great PR with the story of the million-mile Tundra appearing all over the internet, newspapers, and TV news. Toyota “is going to tear down the truck bumper to bumper and top to bottom to find out how various parts have fared after a million miles. The team will look at mechanical components like the engine, the transmission, and the axles, but it’s also interested in seeing how other parts — including the seats and the door hinges — hold up over time.” Nissan… Read more »

Toyota does build great vehicles, but this mileage is an exception to typical ICE performance and comes after a century of
continuous development.

Imagine where we will be in just ten more years of BEV development…

Look around, how many of the millions and millions of ICE vehicles built in 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s do you see on the road today? Very few.

It may be a rare car that makes it to 300k miles but most of them are in the junk yards long before then. And what are the main reasons for those vehicle failures? Engine failure and transmission failure.

Of course if someone was committed to one of those old cars and wanted to keep it running they could. I for one am glad those old air pollution machines are gone. When I think about all the destruction that these cars have caused, that I have caused driving these cars and the insecurity these cars caused by depleting an exhaustible resource, it makes me sick.

EV owners have always been willing to pay a premium as early adopters to make the world a better place. The price of saving the planet is coming down but it’s still high. I can’t wait until all the gas burners are in the junk yard and it’s too expensive to revive them.


Conventional ICE drivetrains cannot be expected to get anywhere close to one million miles. Everybody knows that.

You admitted as much when you went on to explain how one Toyota was treated as a freak occurrence.

I think you might have forgotten just one minor issue… the ~28 THOUSAND gallons of petrol that have been burnt to absolutely no effect (on top of the 12000 gallons burnt to actually move the vehicle about), not to mention all the cack that has come out of the exhaust pipe during those million miles… Just a thought!

Exghaging Marsh’s LEAF for a new one would be a great PR move.

A new battery would be cheaper, but maybe swapping out the entire car would avoid focusing attention on the durability (or lack thereof) of the battery.

If he put his old leaf on eBay he may get offers for the battery for those who want to use if for PV storage ?

for storage after how many cycles will die?

Wow.. I think there are some Volt owners who have reached that number of miles and still haven’t lost any capacity. Granted, I don’t think those people have been driving 100% on battery power, though. Nevertheless, the battery does get used some even when in gas mode.

Volt won’t cycle to depth of discharge as Leaf (or SparkEV). Most BEV drivers only discharge down to 10 or 20 miles remaining (about 10% to 20%), but that’s probably still lower than Volt. Also, Volt doesn’t have DCFC.

What would be a better comparison to Leaf will be SparkEV at similar miles / years. But I don’t know anyone who has anywhere close to 150K miles on SparkEV with LG battery.

A Volt owner has exceeded 315,000 with 110,000 being on battery only. Only had a few wheel bearings replaced. About 4 percent battery degradation. Original brake pads still on the car.

Does anyone know if there are any Tesla’s that are approaching Steve’s numbers on their original battery and original motor/motors? It seems doubtful with Tesla owners reporting multiple battery replacements and multiple drive unit replacements. One Tesla S85 owner who says that he doesn’t drive his car hard and does mostly highway driving, is on his 7th drive unit.




Tesla batteries hold up very well.

Most battery replacements have to do with the contactor, a $2 part. Unfortunately, the contactors were not an easy replacement item, so Tesla opts to swap packs and fix the contactor later instead of making the customer wait longer. The newer packs are designed to allow the replacement of the contactors in an easier manner.

@150K miles, TEsla battery only experienced about 600 cycles where the LEAF battery experienced more than 1800 cycles without good thermal protection.

That is the simple difference.

By 1800 cycles, the Tesla will have 450K miles…

Not the only difference. The 315,000 mile Volt has had 110,000 EV miles put on it. Way more cycling than this Leaf, yet only 4% battery degradation in the Volt. Design details are important and Chevy took the time to get them right.

You can ask Sylvain Juteau, owner of an S model with 202,000km (126,000miles) with no major issues up to now. He’s the responsible of the web site http://roulezelectrique.com/

The guy behind Steve is ready to take him down if say something bad for Nissan. 😀

Ha ha- that guy is the Governor of Washington State; Jay Inslee! We’ve him to thank for diverting $1MM of the $150/EV
road tax into new DCFC installations (which is half of what he asked for).

That’s Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee

Who receives major funding from Nissan, and can choke hold a guy unconscious faster than a Leaf can get up to 60!

Nissan should release a 40 kWh battery upgrade for the LEAF. 30 kWh is not enough of an improvement. If it can be priced right it could improve residual value significantly.

My guess is that the next increment will be 42kWh… they seem to like 6kW chunks. 48 would be a great amount as that would likely push epa rated miles above 150 and hypermilers 175… Could be the sweet spot for US drivers with all their freeway commutes and higher average speeds.

The crazy thing is I think they can probably put at least 50 kWh into the original packaging by simply using LG Chem cells…

Shouldn’t cannibalize LEAF 2 sales unless it too looks like a dog! 🙂

48kwh would get me over 200 miles easily, considering the 24 (21.9) kwh pack takes me over 100 miles at least once a week. I don’t have 150,000 miles but did put 64,000 miles on my black 2012 SV, 23,000 miles on my white 2012 SV, and 25,300 and counting on my 2015 Leaf S. Ive never got the only 60 miles that some people claim not even pulling my jetski trailer.

Capacity fade is really bad in Steve’s case. Active cooling and larger pack size seem to make all the difference.

Not sure if this is something to be proud of. Even in the cool, Pacific Northwest (just about the ideal environment for the LEAF), his LEAF’s battery has degraded, significantly.

I wonder how much better the fade would be if Chevron had not purchased and buried the old NiMH battery technology. These Li-ion batteries don’t seem anywhere near as reliable.

The car would still go 30 miles on the freeway due to lower energy density of NiMH.

They are reliable – just not good with higher heat, as Nissan found out. Better batteries in other variations of EVs have done far better than the early round of Leaf batteries – and now, Nissan is looking to use LG Chem batteries (same as seen in the Volt).

Li-Ion is much better than NiMH but about a year ago BASF announced that they were trying to improve the NiMH technology 10-fold with regards to energy density. If they succeed with that then NiMH would become the new king of the hill

I wonder what NiMH batteries would be like today if Chevron hadn’t turned X-Files conspiracy and hidden the tech in a shadowy warehouse for a decade. Damn you, Chevron. Damn you to Hell!

When NiMH was sold to Chevron, Lithium ion already existed and superior to NiMH.

Today the difference is even greater.

3.7V cell is simply superior to 1.2 V cells..

Those patents on NiMH have since expired. Anyone can now freely use and develop NiMH battery tech.

Congratulations to Steve for his dedication to the 2011 & 2014 Nissan Leaf. My six months and 11 K miles is a drop in the bucket to his wheel time. 52% battery capacity after 150K is reasonable.

are you kidding? No it’s not. No-one but the most devoted EV enthusiast would put up with a 35 mile range. This kind of a result can kill EV adoption, despite the fact that the Volt seems to fare much better. The focus should be on getting this car a new battery, and hopefully at a reasonable price that doesn’t kill the economic arguments for owning an EV.

I agree, 52% capacity at 150k miles is shameful. And in the Pacific NW no less, where heat should not be an issue. I am leasing my Leaf, and will likely replace it with a used Volt once the lease is up even though I will spend more on the used Volt than the residual on my Leaf. I just don’t trust Nissan’s battery to last long enough.

I dunno, I just bought a used Leaf for under $10k (still had all 12 bars, but let’s say it’s a full 11), and at THAT price I expect the value to be somewhere around $0 at 150,000 miles.

The only reason mine was so expensive ($9700) was that I insisted on an SV for the cruise control, and wanted at least a 2013 for (slightly) better battery resiliancy. But if you search around, you can find a used 2012 S with 11 bars for under $8k.

No it isn’t. I am expecting to have well over 85% of my battery at 150k miles in a Tesla. That will make my Tesla 85 still have the range of a Tesla 70 or more, keeping it totally usable.

Nissan had a good attempt but poor results with the chemistry they chose to use early on.

GM’s 2011 Volts on the road still get over 42 miles on a charge if not hammered down the highway. They started with 16kWh battery packs and use about 10 kWh now to get that 40+ range.

I have a Volt, and to the best of my knowledge no Volt has lost a capacity bar yet. The highest millage Volt has over 300,000 miles and over a 1/3 of them were all electric. The difference is that the Volt has a superior battery design to the Leaf. The Leaf in all senses of the word is crap, pure crap, it is poorly designed and it simply does not offer enough range. 80 miles + is enough in a place like socal, with fast chargers. But after 10,000 miles the some leafs have experienced some degeneration….

Give it a refurbished battery.

This is anti-PR by Nissan. Lose 50% of your battery in 5 years. The Leaf was my favorite EV for the longest time.

Never ever consider an EV without a liquid or freon battery cooling system!!!

SAD,quote=LEAF My GID count is 147 at full charge and I have 5 bars gone.”

To compare a Volt with 100,000 EV miles and 300K total has no battery loss at all.

A Tesla with 100,000 miles has 2-3% loss with a range of 250 miles still going daily.

To be fair, in a Volt, how would you know? There has to be capacity fade, but the BMS can hide it from you with so much capacity reserve.

People accepted that range, when they bought the volt.

I wonder how many people would accept a Leaf knowing they will have a 50% battery in only five years.

If the same thing were happening to Volt drivers, it would be known. There is one with more than twice the mileage, in OH, which has hotter summers and colder winters that WA. You can see kWh used since full charge as one of the metrics. If your battery lost 52% capacity like this Leaf the lost capacity would be > the reserve amount.

“To be fair, in a Volt, how would you know? There has to be capacity fade, but the BMS can hide it from you with so much capacity reserve.”

WE do know that Volt hides about 20% of the battery.

So, this LEAF lost 48% of its battery range and that Volt hasn’t lost more than 20%.

48% is way more than 20%.

The funny part is that now after about 300K miles on the Volt and 150K miles on the LEAF, they both have about the same amount of EV range.


Erick Belmer’s 2012 Volt, sparkie, has 313k+ miles and still gets the official 35 miles per charge….or more.

Which is kinda funny how he didn’t want a volt because it only had 35 EV miles, yet now his leaf can’t even do that.
At least the volt would have been consistently 35 even up to today, and still be just as usable as it was on day 1.
He even semi-replaced it with another car to get him by – did he really save vs burning a little bit of gas each day?
Or was it just principle, in that he wanted to not burn any gas at all, despite the cost?

You know there is a APP called Mygreenvolt in android, that lets you see the Soc and total capacity of the battery via the OBDII port. Plus, the Volt does not have that stupid leaf bars setup. Each bar is 10 percent of the battery pack, about 1 Kw or 10.6Kw usable capacity of a 16.1kw battery.

My interpretation is that he doesn’t want to burn gas because the Volt isn’t a very efficient gas burner and he does high miles everyday. It isn’t just principle that drives his desire for all electric. He stated the economic model isn’t their for a Volt and significant gas mileage everyday.

Congratulations Steve on a job well-done! You’ve done more than your part. For those who think he should have just bought a 50 mpg diesel or a Volt, or that he’s crazy for buying a 1st gen battery without cooling:. Washington State’s electricity is nearly 100% hydro and more than half of it is sent to California. Steve is walking the walk, saving tons of CO2 emissions. He works for Taylor Shellfish who is in this for the long haul. Spend some time to read more about how CO2 is acidifying the oceans, and causing massive problems for Taylor and other shellfish companies:


“using the QC more than once a day voided all battery warranty options.”

Is this true with all Leaf or just at his dealer? I’ve seen several Leaf who plug in for second DCFC session right after first one reached over 90%.

i dont need a new leaf,the car is perfect.
i need a 40kwh battery,

Yes and more regen!

I think this story highlights what I’ve been saying all along, that modern EVs are robust and can be expected to last a very, very long time. But I think Steve lacks commitment to his 2011. He should sell the 2011 to someone that really wants it. I know Steve bought the 2014 because of the DCFC. So maybe the 2011 without DCFC doesn’t work well for him. Just because Steve doesn’t like the 2011 doesn’t mean it won’t work well for someone else. I think anyone that buys an EV without expecting to replace the battery eventually is an idiot. Replacing the battery is just a normal maintenance item like replacing the tires. Just because the battery has gone bad doesn’t mean the car has gone bad, far from it. He got 150,000 miles out of the battery and that is great. But if he spends $5k or $6k on a new battery he might get another 150k miles or more with better battery construction. That’s a heck of a lot less than buying a new car that’s basically the same car. 150k miles should be nothing for a modern EV that’s well maintained. Elon Musk has stated that… Read more »

“Lacks commitment to his 2011”??

Steve Marsh has demonstrated incredible commitment, adding hours to his commute to charge en route (which certainly contributed to capacity fade). What more would you want him to do?

Some of us who own 2011 LEAFs outside of the 60K/5yr capacity warranty would like to replace our original battery packs. But here it’s Nissan that needs to step up their commitment to their early adopters. Nissan should give us the option of upgrading to a larger pack (currently 30 kWh) as a replacement, given how marginal the range of the 24 kWh pack proved to be for many of us.

I do agree that it will be ideal to keep older EVs on the road by replacing the battery when needed. My expectation, though, is that most EV batteries will last far longer than the early (and perhaps current) LEAF batteries.

I would want him to take his car to the shop and get his regenerative braking fixed. I would want to him to replace his battery so he doesn’t need another EV. I would want to quit complaining about not having DCFC.

There was a long period of time when replacing the battery wasn’t an option unless under warranty no matter how much I wanted to pay. Nissan was completely quiet on battery replacement except to say NO to my repeated inquiries through dealer service. Then came the briefly entertained idea of renting them. As it turns out, the pricing and ability to purchase a battery was announced the day after we took deliver of the 2014. Had the timing been different, I would have bought another battery instead of a new car. I may send the 2011 off to my Mom now so she can use it around town without my Dad in tow. And I will have the brakes looked at before I give it to her. If an opportunity presents itself to change the battery at a lower cost, I would consider doing it. The 2014 has more trade in appeal than the 2011, even if it had a new battery. I don’t mind telling you that except for the crumby heater in the 2011, I like driving it and having a larger battery in it would put me behind the wheel again. I too have realized that a… Read more »

Actually, Steve does have DCFC capability on his 2011 LEAF and has used it extensively to help with his commute.

The lack of regenerative braking owes to a software issue with LEAFs in general. Nissan is very conservative with the amount of regen they allow, particularly as a pack degrades. And inexplicably, regen power is more limited as vehicle speed increases. Given what I’ve experienced in my LEAF at ~25% capacity loss, I’m not surprised that Steve’s 2011 LEAF doesn’t get any regen to speak of.

Well, if you had a high school kid that you didn’t want to buy gas for and didn’t want going very far from home, the car would be perfect.

It’s difficult to find anything in your post that isn’t inaccurate or inflammatory. Lack of commitment? Give me a break! Spending hours recharging his LEAF to get to/from work is more than the average car owner would even consider never mind do over a 5 year period. Steve didn’t buy the 2014 to gain a DCFC capability, his 2011 had the same capability. WHat you ‘know’ is a fabrication of your own mind. Referring buyers as idiots because they don’t anticipate replacing the traction battery after 5 years is inflammatory. Nissan themselves did not provide a price on a new battery until recently. Nissan stated publicly the reason they didn’t have a price was because they did consider a valid scenario where battery replacement would be necessary as a routine event. 150,000 miles should be a reasonable expectation with maintenance as you suggest, but you seem to imply that Steve did not maintain his vehicle properly. I have 89,000 miles on my 2011 LEAF and have lost 4 capacity bars. I have done maintenance at every interval and face the decision of selling the car for next to nothing or buy a new battery. Less than 100,000 miles on a… Read more »

JP, what is your climate/location and how often did your temperature bars read over 6 (or 7 or 8)? Did you charge the car when they were that high? Leave it parked in the sun?

A battery needs to be at 70% or higher at 160,000 miles to meet the research standards for emissions life cycle. Good news is, the new 30 kWh battery in the ’16 SV and higher has been completely re-engineered and carries an 8 year/100k capacity warranty (vs the 5 yr/60k on previous)

Driving 50,000 miles a year with an ICE would cost you $4,166 at 30MPG and $2.50/gallon for petrol.

A replacement battery for a Leaf is $5,500 on exchange, so if you replaced it every 2 years, your total ‘fuel’ cost is $4,750 annually at 3 miles/kWh at $0.12/kWh + $2,750 for battery range loss.

The economics will improve as battery prices decline. It would be reassuring if Nissan were to signal long term support for Leaf owners with attractive battery replacement and upgrade options.

I’m likely to buy a used Leaf soon, but the possibility of being left with a driveway ornament after range decline renders it useless is concerning.

At least with a Tesla, worst case you could disassemble the pack, identify faulty cells, and replace them yourself if you really got desperate.

You’re forgetting the original purchase price premium. There is no way his leaf compares to a similar spec’d ICE (or VW TDI, after the buy backs…my TDI will be the cheapest car I’ve ever owned, LOL). I don’t understand his logic. He bought it for the economics, and compared it to a diesel. Then he goes on to say it was not economical, but he would never get another ICE.

Good point. I wasn’t forgetting it, I was ignoring it because I’m considering buying a used Leaf, so my thinking was oriented towards the cost of ownership going forward from an already depreciated starting point. I drive a 25 year old ICE car that I bought new and have driven for 200,000 miles. It still has the original range. I need to re-pack the wheel bearings and there are bushings to be replaced, but if I were to invest $2,000 more into it, I’m confident that I could drive it for another 200,000 miles. I very much want to be done with combustion forever however. I want an EV. As a certified cheap skate though, I want a car that I can put 200,000 miles on, or to put it another way, as a fifty year old, I want the next car I own to last me the rest of my life. I don’t want to have to spend $5,500 every 100,000 miles to be able to do it though, and this article, and the comments cause me to consider that at this point in EV evolution, I would probably be better off buying a Volt than a Leaf, even… Read more »

A few years back I was interested in buying a personal aircraft like an old Cessna 150. Cessna quit making personal aircraft for a long time so the only ones you could find were really old, 30+ years old.

All of these old aircraft sold for much more than the original purchase price. There was always one feature related to price, engine hours. The less hours since the last major engine overhaul the more the plane was worth.

I don’t know if modern EV will ever be worth more than their original purchase price, probably given enough time. But I do know that the purchase price of used EVs will be dependent on how many miles since the last battery replacement. We are going have find a way to record battery replacements for EVs on the used car market and track how many miles since the last replacement.

Anyone know why the regen doesn’t work at all for him anymore? I don’t see why the reduced capacity should reduce regen to zero.

I had a 2012 Nissan Leaf and after almost 3 years and 30,000 miles the regen started to fail which feels like you’re not on eco mode. Battery capacity was still good. I took it in to the dealer and they had to reset the electronic brake controller to get it working again. after a few months, regen started to fail again. My lease was up and decided to get a 2015 Leaf. I’m happy with the new leaf except it has less power and the electric emergency break is gone. I’ll probably get the next gen Leaf but Nissan will have to step up the power and external design. Ideal leaf would have autonomous driving, 150 mile range and IDS look.

I also experienced the weird hard breaking on my ’12 leaf. Typically happens when you start rolling the car after initial start and at low speed (less than 10mph) then the break grabs hard during start and stop. Thought it was odd but glad it wasn’t just me. My 2015 MY doesn’t have the same symptoms. Possibly why they swapped out electric emergency breaking for a foot brake.

It could be that one single cell (or more) can’t accept charge and the BMS don’t allow any regen… If the cells are not properly balanced, regen is reduced even on a brand new LEAF

Congratulations. This is a major achievement for an early Leaf with the original battery(capacity and chemistry). In addition to having the entire drivetrain, including power electronics, battery pack (and cells), fully evaluated for physical condition and state of health, recommend checking/servicing the friction brakes to ensure they are fuctioning properly and not sticking. The issue of sticky brake calipers/pistons, warped/corroded brake discs, etc. have been seen to produce undesired friction which could significantly affect overall driving range. This can be an issue for EVs which often use motor regen to do much of braking, leaving friction brakes very lightly used.

“Average range after 150,000 miles: at about 35 miles”

Still more EV range than the upcoming Prius Prime 🙂

The fact that Renault – Nissan need to be proud that an ev car of theirs managed to to 200k proves that this is the exception! In Israel we have 1400 Fluence ev that the battery has died on us after 2-3 years and Renault – Nissan say it is natural “wear and tear” just like the batteries of cell phones. So an ev again – yes. But RENAULT NEVER AGAIN!

I actually think there is quite a bright future for Leaf 1: there are more than 200 000 sold worldwide. Most of them require new batteries. There is just too much money to be made that it’s pretty certain that 3rd party batteries will enter market in maybe 2-4 years time.

I mean if Lithuanians import crashed and written off German cars all day every day to restore them then no way Leafs with a dead traction battery will just rot away.

There have been similar degradation issues with taxis in other locations. Without a TMS the battery simply couldn’t stand up to heat, and that includes heavy operation.

Nissan: give that guy a lizard! It would be good to see how someone with a similar pattern would do with the more recent battery.

Although the US manufacturers with TMSs are doing better, ultimately if batteries can hold up without a TMS it’ll be a bit cheaper, simpler and more efficient, and second-life storage devices will also be simpler.

There are reports of lizard battery start to degrade as well.

Doesn’t matter what LEAF battery, they can’t handle anything at 55 deg C or higher.

it is called accelerated aging due to temperature.

It doesn’t seem like the battery was sigificantly improve until the ’16 SV+ 30kWh one, which carries an 8/100 capacity warranty. I for one would like to know what was changed/improved.

Why did he get another leaf? Just buy another gen-1 battery and slap it in. You really think the battery was supposed to last forever? sheesh.

Steve bought the 2014 a few years ago. Back then Nissan did not and categorically refused to sell or provide pricing for replacement batteries.

“It has taken me a long time to get from 100,000 to this milestone.”

LOL. Duh, what do you expect? Once your range drops down to 35 miles, it will take you 2x as long to accumulate miles.

Based on his description of no regen. It means the battery is basically done. I am willing to bet that peak power is also significantly lower to the point that he won’t get any performance close to his original state.

Truely sad, I seriously doubt that battery will make it to 200K miles even if he doesn’t drive much. Once the regen is gone, it means the internal resistance is very high and it is on the verge of failing. Give it another year or two, we will hear about how the LEAF would be “junked”.


If you want a BEV, buy something with a large battery. Else, buy an PHEV like Volt.

The problem isn’t just battery size.

More important is the lack of active cooling coupled with a chemistry that doesn’t like heat.

Bigger battery size will help both.

lower C rate reduces heat generation during both charging and discharging.

Now, as far as heat is concerned. Seattle is almost the perfect location for the non-liquid cooled batteries but it still “failed”!

Yes, it is mostly Nissan’s fault for this crappy design. But it is also EV communities’ fault for tolerating Nissan for this design by defending it early on. There were so many defenders of Nissan just because they were one of the first BEV maker out there.


Well done Steve!

Nice to see nothing broke on the car, too.

“…in fact I had to sign paperwork that said using the QC more than once a day voided all battery warranty options.”

Interesting. Failing some fundamental advances, this could be the hint of a problem with the concept of dense networks of super-fast chargers. With few (no?) exceptions, charging secondary batteries at high fractional C rates is a trade-off against cycle life. Nissan’s codifying that in their paperwork shouldn’t be a surprise but it’s harsh to see it in black-and-white.

What I’d like to know is how the trend of battery capacity is going ie is it levelling off, getting steeper or nice and linear or what?

I dumped my 2011 Leaf when the range dropped to 60, with 32,000 miles, and no bars missing. The dealer told me it was normal wear and tear. A week later, I was driving a Toyota RAV FAUX, which is really a Tesla in disguise. This will get me to the Tesla 3.

It boggles my mind that Nissan don’t take care of early adopters better.

Are Nissan blind to the negative karma they are building up that will damage their EV brand long term? When EV’s do take off in the mainstream marketplace who will buyers turn to for advice on which car to buy? The early adopters with 100,000+ plus miles of EV experience, that’s who. Few of those early adopters will recommend Nissan either because of personal experience with the LEAF or 2nd hand knowledge from Friends/family who owned a LEAF.

Absolutely, JP. Absolutely.

I’ve given up directly attempting to contribute specifically to their vision. Yes, they are contributing something significant to electrification, but to the extent they disregard the input of their early adopters, they show arrogance unbefitting a company of such stature.

I can understand that Ghosn is a visionary who is struggling with turning a battleship 180 degrees, but I still believe they’ve disregarded the single most important source of directional input. It does not matter whether he is the captain of the ship and knows very well the general direction it must soon travel in. Failure to rally and incorporate the support of his many oarsman on the deck below compromises his ability to make subtle changes in direction, and may well result in the mutiny you alluded to.

Here’s hoping they begin implementing a policy that accounts for the important lessons they can only learn from early adopters, rather than continue to kowtow to the population blindly demanding more from a product they haven’t even test driven yet!

If Ghosn were truly the visionary he claims to be, Nissan would have already offerred one or more mainstream PHEV choices (see GM, BMW, etc), rather than just a single rush-to-market, sloppy battery engineered, oddball-looking hatchback… while peddling hard their full line of gas guzzling SUVs and crossovers. Past due to apply more pressure to Nissan.

Steve was kind enough to send me a message the other day, and we shared congratulations on accomplishments. I missed meeting him when I was on the West Coast, unfortunately. Warning…long text. I think what he has done far beyond anyone else at this point is to demonstrate the durability of a well-made electric. Keep in mind, his car is Nissan’s original foray into the field of electrics–a generation 1 with its original battery. This shows not just a commitment to electrics and their quality, but a strong desire to get it as right as possible on the first try. To put it into perspective, think of the kind of success you had when you got your first job. Think of Michael Jordan’s initial steps onto a basketball court, way back in high school tryouts (hint: it wasn’t pretty.) When I heard from Steve the other day, he did mention that the car has limitations to an extent it didn’t have before, but let’s put even those into perspective: Here’s a guy who could easily have replaced his battery many miles ago, but didn’t. If nothing else, that proves he didn’t need a new one. He’s gotten great use out… Read more »


+1 to almost everything you wrote, except “generation 1 with its original battery. This shows not just a commitment to electrics and their quality, but a strong desire to get it as right as possible on the first try.” As this is objectively just not true, as the record shows, it was GM that set that benchmark while Nissan compromised and rushed out a weakly engineered car, especially the battery. Life cycle (comparitive to ICE vehicle for emissions study) is 160k w/70% capacity; that was not nearly achieved. Good news is, the gen 1.5 battery (30kW) is much improved.