Nissan: “There Have Been No Fires Involving the Nissan LEAF”


2013 Nissan LEAF

2013 Nissan LEAF

Fisker Fire

Fisker Fire

Following the 3 Tesla Model S fires, there’s been a remarkably high level of discussion involving electric vehicles and fire.

The Model S has been the center of these discussions, but several other electric vehicles have been associated with the word fire in the past.

Both the Chevy Volt and the Fisker Karma previously had some fiery media headlines (as have a few other EVs), but never the Nissan LEAF.

As the world’s best-selling electric, there’s a strong chance that the LEAF will eventually be linked to some sort of fire, but that hasn’t occurred yet.

According to a Nissan spokesman,

“There have been no fires involving the Nissan LEAFs, either through extensive and extreme testing or in the real world.”

Categories: Nissan


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51 Comments on "Nissan: “There Have Been No Fires Involving the Nissan LEAF”"

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That’s what Tesla was saying. And then…

Yes, of course. Law of big numbers, eventually there will be a Leaf on fire, and the sad thing is, it won’t matter if it’s one out of 1 million, somehow that’s what, media helping, some of the public will focus on.

I find it very awkward for Nissan to spontaneously comment on this topic; people forget negatives, and the only thing that’ll stick is that fire was mentioned.

Eric, we lack a lot of context here. Could we please have more details as to who that spokesperson is (e.g. random dude at a dealership, or someone at a higher position?), and especially what triggered that comment?

F-I-R-E I never had no FIREY, but i is UGLY!! – I’s UGLY!

Sing it with me!

that’s original!

I happen to think it’s pretty… as do most of the people, most of them strangers, who venture to comment about our sky-blue Leaf.

I don’t think people who think your Leaf is ugly are going to say that to your face, but trust me, many people are saying that behind your back….

I’ don’t hate them, but I don’t love them either. At least they are better looking the the Chevy Spark…

The Leaf is a bit of an odd duck in appearance, but for the price it is a rather nice car. I have only driven one for around five minutes and liked driving the FFE better plus the Ford is a nice looking car, but the Nissan is cheaper, has longer range and they are building more than a couple hundred Leafs a month, so Nissan seems to have kicked Ford to the curb on the BEV front.

Was just a bit of fun for Friday guys. I like the front of the leaf, the aero version looks cool, but i don’t like the rear.

hehe it aint got no alibi.

There were never any “real” fires with the Volt either, just a botched battery test that caught fire TWO WEEKS later, due to not following procedures to discharge the battery following the crash test. It’s kind of too bad that information continues to linger and cause people to take pause.

Here’s the crux of the problem. 58,000 Volts are on the road, and there are zero reports of battery damage caused fires. 83,000 Leafs have been sold globally, and zero reports of battery fires.

About 18,000 Model S are on the road, and they have had 3 battery fires.

Tesla has a real problem here–they are selling a $90,000 vehicle. They should not have any fires.

So every expensive car should not have a fire? Have you done ANY research at all? Absurd comment.

58,000 = 0

83,000 = 0

18,000 = 3

These are the statistics that are relevant to the Tesla fires. Tesla doesn’t want this comparison made because it demonstrates the weakness with their design in comparison to other EVs.

Tesla’s response to their fire problem is in stark contrast to GM’s response to the Volt testing incident.

Even though there was an incident weeks after a government crash test, GM did the proactive and responsible thing and made their design even more robust.

Compare GM’s approach to Tesla’s approach. Tesla’s response was to whine, complain, play the victim and turn the PR spin machine on high. GM’s approach was to solve the weakness. GM didn’t go on a PR rampage, and they didn’t hide behind statistics and press releases. GM improved the damn design and put the issue behind them.

Whose approach was more customer focused?
Whose approach was more proactive ?
Whose approach demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement ?
Whose approach was more effective at dealing with the issue?
Whose approach was better for the EV industry?

Tesla’s not being proactive?
In 10 days after the accident they:
1) updated the car to raise ground clearance to reduce changes of hitting debris
2) asked NHTSA to expedite the investigation
3) updated warranty to cover all fires

And let’s not forget they were cleared by the NHTSA in the first fire after a preliminary investigation. As for offering a permanent fix, they need to first investigate if there is a problem and where it is.

If you compare to GM, they had to offer the buyback program because they had a dozen owners asking for refunds. And it took 2 months before there was a voluntary recall (after NHTSA investigated). I don’t see how Tesla is any less proactive.

You’re reply is full or incorrect statements.

For example,

The fact is, NHTSA informed Tesla of the investigation. Auto companies don’t get to decide when a regulating agency determines an investigation is necessary. Private companies don’t get to request the use of government resources to find problems with a vehicle.

NHTSA works for taxpayers, not Elon Musk.

NHTSA did not clear Tesla after the first fire. They were on furlough at the time and did not send any investigators to the accident. They chose not to open an investigation after just one incident, which is typical. Since there have now been three fires over a five week period the fire issue if obviously not a one-off fluke.

Thank you for setting this straight, Cheryl. An additional consideration in all this are total fleet miles. The Model S has only been on sale for about a year. The Volt and the LEAF both went on sale nearly three years ago. Although it’s been shown that the average Model S is driven more than most cars, this cannot compensate for the much shorter time that these vehicles have been driven. While I agree that the placement of the battery pack is an important consideration, the LEAF exposes nearly the half of the battery pack surface at the bottom of the chassis, much like Model S does as well. It’s only covered by a plastic aerodynamic liner. Both the LEAF and the Volt are driven over the same freeways and about the same rate of speed, which exposes them to the same type of debris and other road hazards like the Model S.

Elon asked Jim Chen, his VP of Regulatory Affairs to contact the NHTSA and he did. It just happened on the same day and given the speed government works it did not reach Strickland (the head) before he made those statements to the media (where he said he was not sure such a request had been made). The fact that NHTSA does typically do investigations that way is orthogonal to whether Tesla requested it.

As for the first one incident, NHTSA requested Tesla provide information about the incident before deciding to close it.

And even if you leave the point out about the NHTSA completely, that does not change the fact that Tesla responded FASTER than GM did and without prodding from their owners (all three said they would not hesitate to buy another one). Also the important point is that you can’t offer a real fix without investigating first and expecting Tesla to do so after only about 2 weeks is a bit unfair given GM had 2 months.

Those are numbers but they aren’t accurate. There are more like 25,000 Teslas on the road, ~22,000 Model S. According to Tesla, they know of no serious injuries occuring in their vehicles. Don’t know how to get the real stats but those would be statistics with meaning with regards to safety.

H8ters gonna h8

Thanks for the corrected numbers on the Model S. The Roadster was not being considered in this article, I believe. Personally, I think that total fleet miles are more important than the number of vehicles on the road. I don’t agree with the last sentence at all. I don’t see the article itself, and the majority of the comments as biased or hateful, which you seem to imply.

You have to consider how many of them have been involved in accidents where the battery was damaged. I know of 5 cases of those for the Model S just from debris alone.

I beg to differ.
kdawg has a photo of a burned up Leaf.

Does he? You think Nissan doesn’t know about it then?

maybe he’ll post it.
earth to kdawg.
come in.

Well a LEAF has been burned as collateral damage when there was a fire.
It is this one we reported on in August of 2012:

It should be noted that although this LEAF did “burn”, the battery itself actually did not catch fire – there was no thermal event, and remained structurally intact.

Yup you beat me to it. It was from a forest fire so it doesn’t count.

Thank you, Jay. It’s amazing how quickly urban legends get started. The very same photo was pointed out to me by a moderator on the Tesla forum, who claimed that this counted towards the number of LEAFs “involved” in a fire. At least the way he interpreted the word “involved”. It was quite unbelievable.

While I truly appreciate what Tesla has done to advance electric vehicles. They pulled out all the stops and took on some unusual risks to get there ahead of everyone else in terms of range. It would be good to keep that in mind, instead of framing the LEAF as a neighborhood vehicle, which cannot travel fast enough to be involved in a serious accident. While I certainly appreciate the enthusiasm on the part of the EV owners, that’s going a bit too far.

Nissan has done a lot to advance EVs as well, and they are right to point out that, in statistical terms at least, their battery design and the lithium-ion chemistry of choice, are significantly less prone to fires.

Musk has called the battery in the LEAF “primitive”

It may or may not be primitive, but at least Nissan knows where to place the battery and how to safely protect it.

Maybe Tesla should spend less time ripping other’s designs and spend more time getting their own design to match the fire performance level of other EV manufacturers.

Indeed, well said Cheryl.

That LEAF did not cause the fire – it was caught in the wildfires in Colorado last year.

Knock on wood. I believe every car is capable of catching on fire under just the right circumstances. I believe there will eventually be a fire in a Leaf. I drive a Leaf every day and I’m not worried about it.

Same here.

I did a quick Google search of my wife’s SUV + fire and was not happy with what I found. Guess I should have done that search before we bought it. I am sure it is rare, but spontaneous combustion scares me more.

No fires YET. The Leaf is really a city car. I own the 2013 model and I try not to roam out of the city given the limited 75mi range. So most trips with the Leaf is for places within 30 mi from my house. That’ll be 60 mi round trip with a little bit of range to spare. Wife and kids in the car, so don’t wanna chance it. Same reason for not driving in ECO aka crippled mode. I drive in D at 65-70mph in the slow lane if I have to use the freeway which I try not to, coz battery drains really quick.

I’d imagine Tesla Model S owners to be driving a lot more like any other car. Long trips, free SuperCharging, long range, high speed. Those sort of trips and driving styles are more likely to see trailer hitches lying on the road.

I believe the cell chemistry for the Tesla cells is Lithium Cobalt Oxide, which I understand is more volatile than the Lithium Manganese Spinet of the Leaf and the Lithium Iron Phosphate of the Volt. Additionally, I think the Tesla battery is liquid cooled, the Leaf is not and I’m not sure about the Volt. It would be interesting to see the results of a controlled test to see what happens when each is pierced while in normal operation mode.

Yeah, this. Tesla pushed the envelope by going with Lithium Cobalt Oxide . . . it gives the battery more energy density and good power output, but it is a more volatile battery chemistry. It is safe enough . . . but it is not as safe as other chemistry mixes.

Yes, I see it the same way. To be fair, Tesla has done a lot to mitigate the risk of using a more volatile and energy dense lithium-ion chemistry, but they apparently were not able to completely compensate all types of damage the car can experience in accidents. Perhaps they will be able to improve upon their design and learn from the recent experience. It’s also possible that they will consider this rate of battery fire incidence acceptable, since it’s still better than a gasoline car in statistical terms.

I believe the Volt uses LG Chem, lithium-manganese-spinel chemistry, not lithium iron phosphate. That would be the Spark.

Correct. Here is the plot of energy release against temperature for various lithium-ion subtypes. It demonstrates that both LiFEPO4, NMC and LMO release smaller amounts of energy at higher temperatures, which makes them safer and less prone to thermal runaway.

The Roadster used Cobalt Oxide. The Model S uses NCA.

Can LEAFs even go fast enough to be involved in a high-speed collision?? 😉

If you can’t catch me, you’ll never know. 😉

Both LEAF and Volt battey packs have much smaller foot print underneath. So it is FAR less “likely” to have impact or puncture in the accident.

By allowing battery swap, the Tesla S battery pack is competely “exposed” and it has a lot of surface area for debris to damage…

Sheer probability….

While I agree that the placement of the battery pack is an important consideration, and what you say is true for the Volt, the LEAF exposes nearly the half of the battery pack surface at the bottom of the chassis, much like Model S does as well. It’s only covered by a plastic aerodynamic liner.

It’s not the square footage (footprint) that matters. That is a misguided argument against the Model S pack. It is the length of the unprotected leading edge of the battery pack and the height above the road surface that matters. Tesla does have more exposure in both categories but just limited the exposure on the height by raising it in their air suspension models. The Leaf and Volt have better protected and/or shorter leading edges to their packs.

Regardless, we all have much worse than 1/10,000 odds of much worse things happening to us than our cars being totaled from hitting road debris induced fires.

I don’t believe that it’s just the leading edge of the battery pack. None of us here know the pertinent details of the various accidents these vehicles have experienced, and speculating about pack placement is an interesting, but unfortunately also potentially unproductive exercise. An argument was made by several Model S owners that the much lower incidence of fires in these vehicles is due to different and less exposed pack placement, lower speeds, more rigid pack enclosure, and a number of other factors. How relevant any of this is, we can only speculate. Given the tone and language of some of these arguments, I’m not sure how much credence I would give them, to be honest. Perhaps the NHTSA investigation will yield something more substantial.

I dare to take my Leaf out of the city. I run 65-75mph in my 50-mile round-trip daily commute. Since I have never run over a large metallic object in ANY car, over probably a half million miles lifetime, it might not happen in my Leaf. But if it does happen, and/or my batteries cook from prolonged treatment of the pedal as an on/off switch, I’ll let y’all know. Even at Tesla’s odds, it is still so likely to never happen to yours. And if it does, so what? You have more money than sense, anyway. Get another one. Or a small airplane. Which can crash. And hurt you maybe. Live a little. Buy a Model S. TRY to cook its batteries by driving it (like I do with my leased Leaf). Fail. Torch it anyway. See if it puts off more heat than its equivalent in $1 bills. Call it all a good time and go buy something else. Bottom line is that it has hardly established itself as a death trap. Before our control-everything-it-possibly-can government forces them to change their design, they should put airbags under all the bridges in the country to safely catch the people who… Read more »

OK, that was funny! Glad the LEAF is working out for you.

Putting Fisker and Volt fires in the same sentence is irresponsible. The Volt (and Leaf) to my knowledge has never had an in-service fire, and the Fisker fire was a “pennies in the fuse box” problem with the Gasoline part of the car. Musk constantly criticizes the Fisker Kharma, Volt, and Leaf, when none of these cars have had high voltage battery problems. Was he so arrogant to think that deficiencies in the Model S battery pack would never become wildly known? Or did he really not know about them? That’s a related issue to my power supplier National Grid, whom my Govenor, Andrew Cuomo, has called “Incompetent”. I agree they’re incompetent, but it doesn’t matter, since although they truly are too dumb to understand why the juice to my neighborhood is so lousy (106 volts on a hot August day with nothing in my house on, proving that’s what it is at the pole), it DOESN’T MATTER since we all pay our bills anyway and they keep getting the same amount of money. Musk likewise gets the same amount of billions as long as the stock price is up. It doesn’t matter whether he knows about problems or not,… Read more »

Mine almost caught on fire while it was charging at a Blink charger. There was smoke coming out from under the hood and the charger melted onto the charging port of the car. Now my wife and I are worried about charging the car from now on. And Nissan couldn’t care less. They won’t let us out of the lease early.

That sounds like the Blink issue. It got so bad (the faulty chargers) before they went bankrupt they even tried to turned down the output on their EVSEs to ‘fix’ exactly that problem (melting). While Under Threat From OEMs, ECOtality Turns Down The Output On Chargers To Avoid Failures Basically if ECOtality didn’t get their Blink chargers fixed, the OEMs were going to go public saying to not use them. The ‘turn-down’ was just Blinks way of lowering the instance rates while they tried to get their supplier to come good, or they found the money to fix them all (which they never did). Here is ECOtality’s warning about the issue in a 8-K filing before the company went Chapter 11: “In addition, some OEMs have notified the Company that they are considering communicating to their customers and other parties to advise them not to use the Company’s EVSEs because of the connector plug issue if the Company does not replace all connector plugs on its approximately 12,000 existing EVSEs in the market. The Company believes such a communication may have a material adverse impact on the near term cash flow and prospects of the Company.” – SEC 8-K… Read more »

@Boyd, indeed very likely a problem with the charging station, or more precisely its connector: Rema (manufacturer for the ones used most notoriously on Blink EVSEs) apparently had crimps quality issues.
Smoke? Wow, the worst that was reported was deformed/melted plastic…

@Jay: ECOtality didn’t “try to” dial down power, they did, on whatever EVSEs they believed would be at risk (maybe a certain batch of connectors). This was in response to a couple overheating incidents out of 10k+ EVSEs and who-knows how many charging sessions, as a temporary fix waiting for the possibly-affected connectors to be checked and/or replaced.
When charging at lower currents, e.g. the 16A that Volts and 2011/2012 Leafs max out at, even a badly-crimped connector doesn’t reach excessive temperatures.

Heeh, I know, I wrote that article…maybe I just worded my sentence badly. My bad, (=

We first reported that the reason for the turn-down was to lower the instance rate, and maybe mute the threat from OEMs (assumedly Nissan) to expose the serious flaw and recommend to their users to not use their Blink products.