Nissan: LEAF Battery Reliably Outperforms Cynics, Critics And Alternatives (w/video)

MAR 23 2015 BY MARK KANE 71

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

Nissan announced that lithium-ion batteries in LEAFs remain strong with just three (or less than 0.01%) packs replaced in total in Europe.

Since 2011, Nissan sold in Europe more than 35,000 LEAFs and 99.99% of them are still running on the original battery.

The result of 99.99% is considered better than gas or diesel engine reliability.

“Analysis by independent British insurance specialist, Warranty Direct, indicates that 0.255% of vehicles on its books had experienced an issue that led to an immobilisation of the internal combustion. Common problems ranged from leaks in the coolant system and damage to the head gasket to engine flooding. Data from Warranty Direct is based on analysis of a basket of 50,000 cars aged 3-6 years old over a five year period.”

Nissan carefully monitors data and even tracked down the model tested by Top Gear (see video below):

“To prove the long-term reliability of the battery technology, Nissan tracked down a rather infamous early model, whose owner is still enjoying fault-free motoring in her LEAF three years on.”

Electric vehicle advocate and presenter of online TV channel Fully Charged, Robert Llewellyn, commented:

“This comes as no surprise. There was a lot of apprehension about electric technology in the beginning, but with sales climbing month-on-month I struggle to see how these myths continue to be regurgitated today.”

Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Director of Electric Vehicles for Nissan in Europe, commented:

“The facts speak for themselves. The rate of battery faults in our vehicles is negligible, even the most ardent critic cannot argue with that.”

“The battery technology is just part of our success story. With over 165,000 customers globally, it’s clear that we’re not the only people who are thrilled by the success of this state-of-the-art technology.”

US, with 75,000 cars would at such a ratio have about 7 replaced battery packs right? We believe the actual number is actually significantly higher however – due to some extreme heat events in already hot areas (ie-Phoenix) for 2011 and 2012 model year cars.   The company introduced the more temperature-resistant, “lizard” batteries in the LEAF last year.

Nissan didn’t comment on how many batteries were replaced in other markets.

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71 Comments on "Nissan: LEAF Battery Reliably Outperforms Cynics, Critics And Alternatives (w/video)"

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Yeah, the battery reliability isn’t as good in warm weather as evidenced by the higher capacity loss from leaves in AZ and southern Cal:

I myself still have 12 bars after 22,000 miles, but imagine that losing a range bar will happen this year or next.

Why? Are you DC quick charging a lot?

See my report below. My Leaf is in the same condition. I have Quick charged exactly once in 2.5 years; they don’t exist where I live. My problem is cold weather, not hot.

We’re experiencing ‘normal’ degradation, according to my dealer.

I got the same line from my dealer. We lost our first bar at 1 year. We live in Northern Virginia-not really hot. As I remember from when I was a young child most of Europe has much milder summers than a lot of places in the USA. I guess cherry picking date is ok for Nissan as I have never seen the admit they replaced any battery packs on cars in the USA.

Only QC’d maybe twice, but I live in SoCal (only seasons are spring, summer, indian summer, and rainy/windy/somewhat-cold).

I monitor my range closely (since it’s the same commute every day) I used to get ~73 rated miles at 80% charge (with 22% remaining at the end of the day), but now it’s closer to 65 rated miles at 80% charge (with 14% remaining at the end of the day). I know it’s anecdotal, but jives with other’s reports of battery capacity over time in different climates.

In case you didn’t click on the link, there are 17 cases where the battery met Nissan’s warranty requirements and needed to be replaced. Those replacements should’ve qualified as “failures” and counted against Nissan’s statistics. And that’s only for the reported failures. Although still potentially better than the ICE rates, it isn’t 99.99%, more likely 99.90% … a statistical difference of 10x.

Not surprised that Nissan would use cherry picked data. Any word on what the replacement rate for Leaf batteries is in the USA?

Same pickle for me. SoCal driver of a 2011 Leaf. 53k miles. 3 bars down. About 186 Gids consistently upon full charge. Still waiting for that final bar to drop so I can get a new battery. The wait is killing me.

Kind of a negative feedback loop once the bars start to drop. My battery runs hotter now on its own, and I need to quick charge more due to lost range. I also noticed that my regen from coasting seems to occur much less with the reduced battery capacity. Anyone else experience this?

That is a nice low failure rate. Kudos.

That said . . . there is more work to be done. A thermal management system would be nice. Something that would keep the batteries warm when the car is plugged in. And an increase in energy density would be nice so they can increase the range.

I still can’t see why they didn’t put in at least rudimentary cooling, like just a small fan blowing air from the inside of the car into the pack at one end with a vent at the other end of the pack. The problem with the pack seems to be that it is so well insulated that once it gets hot from rapid driving and repeated quick charges it stays hot for days, and that seems to do real damage.

I believe they put a fan into the eNV-200 to cool it a little bit.

The notion of ‘reliability’ as defined here means the battery doesn’t utterly fail.

That’s good to know, but that isn’t the concern consumers and critics have. Consumers worry about RANGE and DEGRADATION, and assume reliability is a given. This report is about spin.

Like Khai L. above, my 12 Leaf is at 12 bars at 22k miles also, but it will likely lose a bar before my lease ends in September. My Leaf’s SOH is now about 87%.

But even with 12 bars and a good report from my dealer, 40 miles range (@ 100% full; 36 miles at 80%) in the winter is very disappointing. It’s hard to declare my battery healthy and reliable when I worry about making it home after my short commute and one small errand.

How cold is it where you are? Like region/state. I’m kinda shocked by the 40-30mi number.

Western PA. This past winter had several nights go down well below 0 F (like -10 F, with the high some days of maybe 3 F.

My car is garage-kept (maybe 40 F on those nights), but it sits all day at the office. Remarkably, it doesn’t lose any miles while sitting outside all day.

The problem is the resistive heater, plus the reduced performance of the battery when cold. So a ‘healthy’ 12-bar battery can be brought to its knees just with cold weather. Worse, the range indicator on the dash lies all the time, so in the winter I’ve learned to multiply by 0.6 to get a true idea of range.

Strange. I’m eastern PA. 15k miles, 12 bars, haven’t checked SOC in a while, but my range reduction is about 15% on really cold days.

My Leaf is a ’12, with the resistive heat. Maybe you have a ’13 or newer with the heat pump? It’s supposed to help a lot.

Nissan started adding heaters to the battery packs a while ago. I have a 2011 with no heater in the pack. At 3F we get 15 miles on a 100% charge if we do NOT use the cabin heater. Its great that you get the range you do!!

It’s hard to criticize that metric however, because it’s the exact same metric by which ICE cars are measured.

Actually no, that’s not true. The metric is actually that the *engine* fails, not the gas tank. I’m sure that if you were to go by that metric, exactly 0 Leafs have been immobilized by some problem with the motor itself.

So, perhaps the metric they are using is indeed even more than fair?

What a joke. The Leaf battery sucks. Completely sucks. Mine has lost three bars and at this point my total range is 50-55 miles, assuming I have no bars left. Less than 45 miles until the Low Battery warning.

You have to hand it to these hucksters. Having the temerity to brag about the worst battery pack around takes cojones.

FYI lost the third bar at year three. Expecting to lose the fourth at the end of year four (we’re not driving it much for obvious reasons). Less than 45K miles. Mild climate. Less than 10 DC charges over its life.

Model and year?

2011 MY. Whatever the higher model was.

Does have a lot of freeway miles, but that’s SoCal commuting. Go a mile. Get on the freeway. Drive 15 miles. Get off the freeway. Drive a mile.


Sounds like you have a case, so why not take it in? Your case is not normal (yes, I have a leaf, no it hasn’t lost any bars).

I know of — meaning I have friends who know them — several people that have experienced greater battery fade. I have a gizmo that can measure my fade but haven’t used in a couple of years. I should probably do that just for grins.

So… you’re saying that the battery has at some point completely left you stranded because it’s failed completely?

Because that kind of happens to 0.255% of ICE owners, by the statistics gathered here.

What you’re *actually* saying is that your Leaf is reliable as hell, but the range sucks. They’re working on that problem.

I think they are talking about battery *reliability* in the sense of it being not prone to failure, not resistant to degradation.

Everyone knows that the LEAF battery sucks for degradation, but it’s actually quite reliable.

Yes, it reliably degrades far more quickly than Nissan’s rosy promises in 2010.


I agree with DonC.

Wait a minute the world isn`t flat, what the hell my teacher lied to me about that too!

Dare I say that Nissan take notes from the engineera over at BYD, apparently their batteries are pretty pimp.

This is some top-quality misdirection.

It’s like Toyota saying, “Don’t worry about gas prices, because we offer the highest fleet MPG of any automaker.” It’s intentionally missing the point.

Yes, the heavily-degraded Leaf batteries in the Southwest still functioned, but that doesn’t mean you get a gold star for “reliability.”

Sure it does.

You just get a “c” for durability.

A “C” is not a gold star.
A “C” is, at best, a bronze star.


Here’s my report card for the battery.

Durability/longevity: C
Reliability: A

In the same sense that a car with brakes that work most of the time would get an A for durability and a C for reliability, sure.

He just lost the first battery bar at 55000 miles.

This seems like a serious issue, DonC which Model/year leaf are you driving? Nissan need to address this, can you post some pics or even better videos of the battery gauge as it drops? As a 30000+ UK leaf owner should I be concerned?

It just doesn’t have all those bars on the right. Instead of twelve it has nine, probably will go to eight in the near future. If you leased it then you should be OK.

I think you’re better in colder climates. I’m in a very temperate place but it’s not cold.

Well, I’ll hand it to Nissan for seeking out Robert Llewellyn and making this little video. True, it may be a little bit of mis-direction but I’m not sure being it is aimed at the European market where the climate is much milder. It is likely they haven’t seen the sort of degradation we’ve seen here in the southern USA. Again, this shows Nissan is serious about promoting their vehicles where GM has not been.

Well, my ’12 lost its first bar in 35 months at well under 20,000 miles. If the world really was flat, maybe I could actually get more than 50 miles on an 80% charge! I don’t think the weather in VA is that much worse than the UK. Also, I can’t imagine what kind of family could get by on a single charge a week!!!

VA in summer is much hotter than the UK in summer.

Greater London is 12.5 miles across with an average vehicle speed limit of less than 10 miles per hr. So London families probably only need to charge once per week.

Average commuting distance in the UK is less than 10 miles. I think once a week is pretty much non-sense too but maybe twice and you’d be ok for an “average” family in the UK.

Larry said:

“I don’t think the weather in VA is that much worse than the UK.”


Some of my friends visited England a few years back. During their visit, the locals kept apologizing profusely for the “terribly hot” weather they were having. It was 80 degrees.

It’s hot weather which is the Leaf battery pack’s Achilles’ heel… not cold weather. If the Leaf battery does better in Europe’s mild summers than it does in the hotter areas of the USA, such as Arizona and parts of Texas and the arid/desert areas of Southern California… that’s no surprise.

It’s a combination of the chemistry and heat. Of all the electric cars on the market, the Leaf is the one which should have a TMS.

I still can’t get over Nissan bragging about its battery. Makes me laugh.

Yeah, not a battery to brag about. I would think they would dodge the topic for a year or so until the “double capacity” battery is available.

I turned my leased 2011 LEAF in after 3 years, 40k miles, with 7 range bars left. Lots of 70+ mph commuting and DCQCing, but that was the reality of my commute. Loved the car but havs to wait for something with more kWhs.

Well folks, don’t expect the Gen2 Leaf to have a TMS either, if they actually believe their own BS.

Degradation in hot climates is a real problem, and so it getting as much range in the cold, as possible. Ignoring these real life requirements to save money on each unit sold, is lame.

It has now been a bit over 2 years since the first 2013 LEAFs shipped. Do you remember what it was like about 2 years after the first 2011 LEAFs shipped? There was that Wiki page. There were screenshots of LEAFs down 3 or 4 capacity bars. There had been that big test of many LEAFs in Arizona just 1.5 years after the 2011’s started shipping. There was a class action lawsuit. Nissan had issued several statements on the problem and, under extreme pressure, eventually announced the replacement battery program 2.5 years after the 2011 started shipping. Now, let’s look at 2 years experience with the 2013s. None of those anecdotal things have happened. Lots and lots of owners of 2013-2015s have posted LeafSpy stats on and elsewhere. To my knowledge there is one – ONE – unconfirmed report of a loss of a single capacity bar on ONE 2013 LEAF. I have heard a theory that what Nissan really did was adjust the software to lie about the battery capacity. Right. And all these engineering types using LeafSpy as just part of a large set of stats collecting aren’t noticing that their range has dropped 30%. Sure. In… Read more »

I agree that finding a chemistry that doesn’t require TMS is the best solution. i still think increased kWhs are going to greatly help the degradation issue as well.

Bloody hell, unlike a lot of early LEAF adopters on this forum I give Nissan a lot of benefit of the doubt regarding the batteries. But this is just lying with statistics. First, by “failure” they presumably mean the batter simply stops working. Whoopee **** – hybrid batteries have had similar “failure” rates for 15 years. They aren’t counting degradation – or if they are, they are using the “it’s not degraded if there are still 9 or more bars” standard, which in Britain’s climate is a no brainer for 3 years. I’ll still bet that the average degradation is much worse than Nissan forecast with the 2011 and 2012 models, both before and after adjusted for mileage. I dearly wish Nissan could come clean and say, “Look, the early batteries were simply not able to take the heat. Our Engineers warned us, our competitors warned us, but we wanted to get the first generally-available affordable EV to market. Sorry about that. However, starting in 2013 we quietly – actually, secretly – installed a new heat-resistant battery in all LEAFs which is why those batteries actually have performed a lot better. And you don’t need a TMS for them, so… Read more »

After 3.5 years of owning a LEAF and 42,000 miles later, I lost 3 capacity bars and my “100” mile car was down to a paltry 73 miles… I was waiting for the next capacity bar to drop and maybe with it some warranty consideration when I had enough. Out with the LEAF and in with a Tesla….

Hi all, I feel lucky to have leased my 2013, with only 14k miles. I owe that decision, to a very good Leaf salesman who said leasing was the only way to go. Obviously, I have no bar loss snd I charge it any time I want at work or home, giving me up to 140-150 miles available to me, on some given days, with no range axniety, or concern about charging high or low. Just last week, my Leaf dealership, offered me $5000 discount om my residual, to out right purchase it, bringing it down to $12k. But, I won’t consider buying it, even though I love it, because that discount should grow even larger, as 200 mile battery cars come even closer toward the end of my lease. These cars are going to be $5k-$10k, low mileage cars, very affordable and viable used cars, that will be great used cars for the. poorest of the poor, who are now spending $200-$300/month, just to get back and forth to a minimum wage job. My hope, is Nissan or Tesla will start to offer $5000k 150 mile replacement batteries for these early innovator marvels, offering much safer, affordable transportation for… Read more »

My 12 Leaf (leased) has 29792 miles and lost 2 bars. If Nissan gives me a new battery or $5000 off to extend lease I will do it.

I have 353 DC quick charges on my 2012 SL. 23,500 miles.
80% battery capacity. About 48 miles till LBW on a 100% charge.

That sucks…

I have about the same mileage and maybe a total of 5 DC fast charges. And I almost never charge to 100% (80% setting). I am also down to 80%. But it has been 3.5 years (I have a 2011).

Nissan should take care of its early adopters and provide a better warranty – say, extend to 7 or 8 years, or provide battery replacements for only 2 bars missing.

Yes, its quite the quandary, the car has such a short range, I find myself relying on DCQC even more frequently.

Didn’t Argonne test this and find that DC charging didn’t make much of a difference for battery fade? I think they charged one or two Leafs with a DC charger every day and or two with just a 240v charger.

I DCQCed 2 – 3 times per week and can testify to the same issue with increased reliance on it as the fade really kicked in. The real result (unfortunately) was the LEAF getting used less and less on weekends. The wife was not up for stopping to DCQC on the way to and from moderate destinations.

I still can perform a +100 miles everyday commute with a two years 20000 miles Zoe. It really seems li-ion longevity is far beyond excpectations.

Isn’t that an LG Chem battery? May account for the difference.

That is the BIGGIEST STATISTICAL MISINFORMATION by a car company. I can’t believe insideev doesn’t call Nissan out on this.

We all know that LEAF battery degradation is due to temperature or lack of high temperature battery thermal protection system. The simple reason that Nissan hasn’t listed any information on anywhere else beside Europe is b/c the weather and climate where majority of European market is.

Norway, France and UK are all major EV market where the weather is mild. US has far more climate variation. Why doesn’t Nissan show some stats on US market?

Also, Japan is also a mild weather country. Nissan is counting on majority of the market are located in the relative mild climate to hide the fact of its poor design by diluting its sample rate with mild climate batteries…

That is biggest data manipulation if anyone has a simple brain.

Well said.

I remember when I first started reading about the problems with Leaf batteries in Phoenix. My immediate reaction was “Why is Nissan crazy enough to sell the Leaf, which has no battery thermal management system, to dealers in Phoenix?”

The Leaf should have come with a clear warning, something like “NOT FOR LONG-TERM USE IN AREAS WHERE TEMPERATURES OFTEN EXCEED 90° FAHRENHEIT.”

+1 to both of you. I live in Phoenix and after seeing how badly the batteries degraded, and after seeing how Nissan tried to dance around the problem, Nissan has totally lost my trust.

We lost our 1st bar at 10k miles in coastal southern cal. Battery had never had a quick charge at that point, though we do charge to 100% given the real works range is so much lower than the rating.

Thankfully we have this car under lease, which is the only way to own an EV for the first couple generation given the protection from under performing tech and rapid depreciation.

This may have been posted before so sorry for the spam if it was.

It’s mind boggling that Nissan didn’t at least employ air cooling like Ford does with their EVs. To not have any kind of cooling system for a BEV seems crazy.

Question for Leaf owners in hot climates: is it even possible to DCQC if temperatures are above 90 degrees? I saw that one video of the father taking his 2 sons on a trip in his Leaf, and he mentioned something about teh battery being too hot to charge at one point in the vid.

My car was one of the 3 UK cars that had serious battery failings! It’s a UK 2012 Gen 1.

I had, what turned out to be, a cell leak that required replacement at around 11,000 miles (I think). Nissan did it all free of charge and gave me a courtesy car in the meantime.

I’ve since gone on to do almost 30,000 miles, with lots of DC rapid charging, without incident.

I love the LEAF (even the Gen 1) and think it’s a superb car. I am, however, jumping ship and getting an i3 shortly as need the ReX’s increased range!

You need an i3 for the extra range in the UK? The last time I looked at, I couldn’t find a place you could go to anywhere in the UK that’s outside of the range of a quick charger.

It’s a stark contrast to what you’d find near where I live in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Feel for aussies who only have a handful of 2012 built Leafs on offer with 2015 compliance plates fitted. Nissan AU imported 500 cars back then and then proceeded to have absolutely no marketing to get them out there.

Oh and some cars are showing bad degradation at low kms too…