Nissan Reacts To LEAF’s Dropping Battery Capacity In Southern US. Resolution Drawing Near?

JUL 23 2012 BY STAFF 13

Nissan LEAF Receives A Wireless Charge

The southern US has been experiencing a heat wave unseen for many years, and in the most extreme instances of this heat, like in Phoenix Arizona, that heat is quickly obliterating the top end capacity of Nissan LEAF battery packs.

Many owners, perhaps as high as 50, have already lost ‘one bar’ or 15% of the car’s battery capacity over the past months.  In a few isolated cases as many as three bars have been lost (27.5%), with reports of a single owner having just lost bar number four, meaning a full third of the LEAF’s range has been lost.

Perhaps Not The Best Day To Leave Your LEAF Outside

Arizona LEAF owners have come to together to discuss the problem, and to make Nissan aware of the issue, and perhaps take legal action.

For many owners they understood when buying the 73 mile (EPA) electric vehicle, that the excessive temperatures of the desert would negatively impact their car’s range over time as compared to the rest of the country, but none say they expected it to be this extreme.  Additionally,  none were told by Nissan to expect a degradation rate as high as triple that of normalized LEAFS.  Perhaps Nissan themselves weren’t ready for what Phoenix could throw at them.  You can read our original (more detailed) report here.

LEAF owners have been told by Nissan that under normal driving conditions the LEAF should retain 80% of its initial capacity after 5 years/60,000 miles.

As this capacity loss problem has unfolded in Phoenix, Nissan has been silent on what actions, if any, it will take.  Previously only saying that it was “investigating” the 5 claims they were aware of.  Until Now.

Three Bars Of Capacity Lost (via

With several dozen complaints now registered, and the story getting pick up on regional and national news, like CBS5 in Arizona (video below).  Nissan has started to monitor cars in the area directly, and has acquired a half dozen affected LEAFs from their original owners and will be taking them to Casa Grande to conduct extensive testing starting next week.  Loaner cars have been given to their owners.

One would assume that these owners who have let Nissan borrow their cars , and perhaps the rest of the Arizona LEAF owners, will at some point be receiving some form of compensation, perhaps in the form of extended warranty or replacement of cells, or perhaps a guaranteed valuation on their car if they wish to turn it back in to the company.

We find it hard to believe that these half dozen owners who have struggling LEAFs would willfully give up their cars to have Nissan extensively test the car, only to have them given back to them even more damaged and without a resolution.  Hopefully Nissan has already offered them some assistance, and this means that a greater resolution to the problem is on its way, and is resolved quickly.


Categories: Nissan


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13 Comments on "Nissan Reacts To LEAF’s Dropping Battery Capacity In Southern US. Resolution Drawing Near?"

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John Hollenberg

While the problem is mainly in Arizona, there are 5-6 Leafs in Texas with the same problem and one in the California desert. I don’t think the Leaf (as presently designed) should be sold in these very hot areas–at least not without full disclosure.

Richard L.

I agree with John on this. Hot desert environments are simply far too damaging to a poor thermal management system such as the Leaf. Compared to GM, Nissan has not been very kind to its customers. That’s why I love my Volt and its American engineering. Its designed to handle all American environments.


These people automatically think the Japanese auto makers are the best and failed to do their homework. The Leaf was rushed to market so Nissan could have the bragging rights, but it has backfire in Nissan face. They should have bought a Volt in which the battery has a control environment….. a no brainer. Folks, wake up! The USA owned companies now make better vehicles.


Couldn’t agree more. The Chevy Volt was tested extensively in places worse than Arizona, and passed with flying colors. I hope to see Chevy get the new smaller all electric Spark out soon.



Agree with you that the Leaf was rushed to market. But I also live in a fairly hot part of the USA, and I don’t think I am a candidate to buy a Volt, even though the car definitely has my attention. Because, you see, on most days I park my car outside during the day, with no electrical outlet available to power the TMS. Hence, I fear my Volt might suffer a fate similar to what the Leaf owners in AZ are experiencing.

It’s an infrastructure problem. When, in the fullness of time, I can plug my Volt during summer days, I hope to join the legion of happy Volt owners.

John Hollenberg

> These people automatically think the Japanese auto makers are the best and failed to do their homework. The Leaf was rushed to market so Nissan could have the bragging rights, but it has backfired in Nissan face.

Not supported by the facts. While problems have been reported in a few very hot areas, the rest of the country appears to be doing fine with their Leafs. I estimate about a 5% loss of battery capacity for my Leaf after one year (using a meter designed, built and sold by one of the Leaf owners). Since Nissan states that the Leaf loses battery capacity more rapidly at first and then slows down, it looks like I am on course to achieve their stated capacity figures: 80% remaining battery capacity after 5 years, 70% by 8-10 years.


Interestingly though (not knocking the Leaf BTW), the Volt with its battery Thermal management(which can be done while conencted to the grid) is expected to still have its full range after 8 years. The issue I have with the Leaf, is that it is (seemingly) under engineered (Which I find distressing as Nissan is one of the Few Japanese Brands I like). The Volt is OVER engineered using only 50% of its battery. Meaning as Data emerges on cell degradation, GM could theorhetically DOUBLE its AER without modifying its battery, just changing the code for how it uses the battery. If the thermal management system demonstrates that (thanks to thermal managament) cell degregation is limited to 90% then GM could go to a 70mile AER with a code change. Download it to the vehicle (older ones) and Voila! more shock for the buck (cant say Bang, no gas used)

David Murray

I think the whole thing is an overreaction. I’ve had my Leaf for 15 months and survived the worst Texas Summer in my living memory last year. I’ve charged to 100% every day and even charged the car during the hottest parts of the day . I’ve not lost any bars of capacity yet.

While I won’t deny what has been happening in Phoenix I think these unfortunate drivers who have lost capacity are the exception and not the rule.

mike winger

I too have a Leaf that was purchased from a dealer in Texas and noticed right a way that the expected range was less than advertised and we are very intrested to see if Nissan is going to honor their warranty and replace the heat degraded batteries or just rip-off the eco minded customers that went out on a limb and bought their cars.
We still have “all the bars” and charge at 2 am when it is way cooler but i question if the battery will last to 60,000 miles as advertised..


I’d willfully give up my vehicle for a loaner if there was a major problem like this with it. Why did the article even bother stating that?!?!? I get tired of opinion in news articles. Your opinion doesn’t belong there!


David, you know the difference between the capacity “tick marks” and the state of charge indicator right?.

Whats the average high temperature in your part of Texas?


I have had my Leaf just over a year and have just over 17,000 miles on it. Any loss of capacity is not yet noticeable. I always charge to 100%. I’ve always been treated well by Nissan. I bought a Leaf because I wanted a full battery electric vehicle, not a hybrid like the Volt.

John A. Tamplin

Ultimately, Nissan will be paying for a replacement battery anyway under the warranty. So, while it is annoying to the users to have the range drop so quickly, they are probably covered better than someone whose battery drops off just slightly less than what the warranty covers.

Still, this could be a big deal if the negative publicity gets too entrenched, so Nissan is well-advised to get on top of the situation.

I haven’t had any drop in capacity in my LEAF in 9 months, though only the last month has been really hot in Atlanta since I bought it.