Phoenix CBS Affiliate Airs Out LEAF Capacity Loss Issue (Video)


Phoenician LEAF owners who have experienced early battery capacity loss are growing frustrated with Nissan’s low balling the number of LEAFs affected and its steady insistence that the losses are “normal”    Now thanks to CBS affiliate KPHO in Phoenix Arizona, and the laudable efforts of the LEAF owners themselves, it is going to be much more difficult for Nissan to keep stonewalling on this issue.

TV Journalist Heather Moore reports there are 400 LEAFs in Arizona.  The MNL Wiki shows 34 LEAFs just in Arizona reporting at least one lost capacity bar.  If 8.5% of  Arizona LEAFs have reported on problem MNL, it is not hard to imagine that the actual number suffering from capacity loss is double or triple that since most owners are not active on or even aware of MNL.

The TV news segment highlighted the case of one LEAF owner, Scott Yarosh who while still loving his car, states:

 When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work on a single charge, approximately 90 miles round trip, And now, I can drive approximately 44 miles on this without having to stop and charge

Yarosh has lost 3 capacity bars, which should correlate to about 28% capacity loss.  Yet his statement above indicates about 48% capacity loss.  Three minutes of air time did not afford the opportunity explain that discrepancy.

Nissan’s Director of Product Planning,  Mark Perry spoke with Moore,  and says that Nissan is investigating “five complaints of rapid loss of battery capacity” and concluded “we want to learn more about what’s going on, but it’s something we’ve just been made aware of, and we don’t have any conclusions yet,”

Clearly more than 5 people are involved.  Either people aren’t calling in about this problem or the numbers are not getting reported up the chain to Mr. Perry.  And strangely Perry offered the suggestion that:

Owners with similar complaints shouldn’t leave the dealership before making sure the dealership calls the region’s technical service manager

Maybe there really is a “issue” with getting this reported up the chain?

Perry’s suggestion that only 5 are involved prompted the MNL group of LEAF owners affected by this to begin documenting the case numbers for those who have called in to make a formal complaint on  Nissan’s EV hotline, and they repeated pleas for those with capacity loss issues to call that number at 877-664-2738.

Some owners calling in have been asked what remedy they are seeking.  One owner suggested a fan.  The LEAF already has a fan, although its purpose is not to cool the battery but rather to make certain that all the cells are equally hot.  Seems the remedy most these owners want is an assurance of a  70% capacity retention over the eight year/100k mile “warranty” period of the battery, which is probably what most thought they were getting in the first place.

The organization and savy with which this group of LEAF owners has doggedly pursued this issue should make clear to all OEMs that early adopters of EVs are not a group to be toyed with.


Category: Battery TechChargingNissan,


26 responses to "Phoenix CBS Affiliate Airs Out LEAF Capacity Loss Issue (Video)"
  1. Ambulator says:

    “Seems the remedy most these owners want is an assurance of no more than 70% capacity loss over the eight year/100k mile “warranty” period…”

    I think they were expecting no more that a 30% capacity loss, not 70%.

    MOD EDIT: Yupe, little typo there. /fixed

  2. Jay Cole says:

    Who knew Phoenician was the plural term for people in Phoenix? Not I.

    …learn something everyday

  3. vdiv says:

    If I was a Leaf owner experiencing this issue, maybe I would want the battery to lose capacity beyond the threshold before the warranty expires so that I can get a new and hopefully improved one.

    1. Marc Lee says:

      Well there’s the rub… Nissan doesn’t actually warranty capacity loss of the battery. If Nissan does something for these LEAF owners I would suspect they will replace cells within the pack to give them 80% of original capacity through year 5 and 70% through year 8. Or they may just swap out the whole pack for a refurbished pack that meets “normal” capacity for amount of “time” on the vehicle in question. Nissan may be looking at what is the most cost effective way for them to tackle this issue right now.

      Or Nissan may opt to do nothing, but that would seem to be a dangerous strategy and at odds with a company that has put more money into BEVs than all the other companies combined at this point.

  4. Wood Foss says:

    Now that is a little scarry. I have researched the cost of a replacement battery for the Focus and it is $10,563.00 not including labor. Ouch…. Let us know what if any resolution this develops into….

    1. Marc Lee says:

      Wood, yup if you had to replace the whole battery this year that would suck. Ford has been vague on their warranty, did you sign any paper work or have any dicussions when you bought your Focus Electric that made it more clear what the actual warranty is on the FE?

    2. Lindsay says:

      Does that cost include a “trade-in” value for the battery that is being replaced? Or is it just the cost of a replacement battery?

      1. Mark H says:

        Very good point. It is most likely just the cost. There will be a market for the 60%-70% battery such as for PV solar. It also may not include labor. I have already asked this question of my Chevy dealer and was pleased to find the labor charge at $365. Not bad. Also if you check out the battery section on this site, you will find the prediction of this listed price dropping substantially before replacement is required. Of course smaller KW batteries in the HEVs will cost less to replace. Comparing the replacement cost to timing belt replacements and oil changes, the difference could be recouped quickly in a HEV. Current cost based on $600/KW. Some are speculating the replacement cost around 200-300/KW.

  5. Open-Mind says:

    For Nissan, the cost of proactively replacing a few battery packs will be much cheaper than the cost of the bad-PR tsunami that’s coming if this escalates. Plus then they could analyze the failed packs in their labs to diagnose the actual problem.

    Simple choice … spend $1 now or spend $10 later.

    1. Marc Lee says:

      You may have something there. We had an electrical issue in my neighborhood and it zapped several things in my house, including a temperature sensor on the Volt battery. GM could have simply replaced the sensor, but they opted to replace the entire battery because they wanted to analyze the battery.

      Maybe Nissan should look at these vehicles as “research.”

  6. James says:

    We organized a meeting of some of the affected owners in Phoenix last night, and I think we had at least 8 Leafs (and one electric scooter) present, so this 5 number that Perry is throwing about is bunk. At least two drivers in Phoenix have lost around 30% capacity, and I’m at between 15-20% loss. At 70% the battery is generally considered spent.

    1. Marc Lee says:

      James you guys have done a great job with documenting this, AND staying positive. If I was a Nissan person looking at how you guys are handling this and still sticking by your LEAFs, I would be thinking “yes these are customers we want for life.”

      To me there is no doubt Nissan will come around, unfortunately the coporate ship is slow to turn, but it will eventually.

      I think actually this whole issue will some day be a case study for students on how the use of the Internet changed the ability of end users to bypass the corporate entity and communicate directly on issues like this.

  7. Mark H says:

    I remember when GM threw the gauntlet down with the 8 year battery warranty. I remember meeting with a sales manager from Tesla trying to explain to me all the superior aspects of the Tesla while carrying a 3 year warranty. There was no getting around what GM had done. At the time Nissan also offered a 3 year warranty on their battery and was forced to match the Volt. I also remember the anxiety over the news of NHTSA battery fire with the liquid cooled battery pack on the Chevy Volt. Was this an inferior design? After taking a breath over the single incident, I was back to being content with my liquid cooled battery. I am no expert on the chemistry, but I think with the current battery technology, the liquid cooled pack in the Volt will surface as a superior design to the air cooled method. Of course in the years to come, there will be new battery technologies that surpass all of the current designs. I plan on keeping my Volt past the second battery which with battery cost largely determined by KW, the replacement should be about $2000 less hence making the $5000 divide even closer. I wish no ill will on the Leaf for we are cheering success for all EVs. I don’t think they are going to have these problems except in the extreme heat areas. Still it makes me grateful for my liquid cooled battery.

    1. Marc Lee says:

      “the liquid cooled pack in the Volt will surface as a superior design to the air cooled method.”

      On the LEAF pack the purpose of the internal fan is not to cool the pack per se, but to help keep all the cells equally “warm.” The LEAF pack uses conduction to move heat out of the pack where it is passively given off. The problem is that “conduction” is a two way street. Thus if you are sitting in a parking lot that is 160f, and on a 110f day it is very easy for the asphalt to reach 160f, that heat can easily be conducted into the pack.

      This is gonna sound crazy, but something like an “Easy UP” could make a huge difference. Would love to see what OEM engineers could come up with for a durable, easy to open/close and secure, quick shading solution for the car.

      1. Koz says:

        I know what you are trying to say but it is not conduction that will transfer heat to the pack but rather convection through the air and radiation. Regardless, if the asphalt is 160 and the pack and free air are 110, heat will transfer to the pack. This would be an issue when parking over the heated asphalt, not so much as ambient air would be moving rapidly over the underside of the car while in motion.

        The bigger issue is cooling while in use. With only passive cooling there is no way to quickly remove and of the heat being built up by the internal resistance of the battery. If ambient is 110 then internal temps can get much higher under use. The longer the use and the higher the load, the worse it gets until something close to steady state is reached.

  8. scottf200 says:

    Re: Nissan LEAF Battery Warranty Update
    Posted by Jay (Statik) Cole on October 26, 2010

  9. scottf200 says:

    Also note that it is just not folks in Phoenix, AZ as TX and CA have hot areas where they are being reports. See list there:
    P.S. Even as another *EV owner I sure hope Nissan treats these folks right … and fast!

    1. Marc Lee says:

      “I sure hope Nissan treats these folks right … and fast!”

      I agree Scott. Feel certain Nissan will do the right thing. I would imagine they are working very hard on figuring out the best way to handle this situation.

  10. GeorgeS says:

    Is this a permanent loss of capacity or will the range bounce back when the temps cool off??

    1. Jay Cole says:

      It is permanent George. In hot weather you are actually getting optimal range out of whatever capacity you have in your battery.

      The drawback of course is when your core pack temperature gets over 95F (not outside temp) your starting to do damage, especially when you plug it in.

      The greater the temperature above 95F in this cell chemistry the greater the damage/acceleration of damage that is potentially being done to your future usable capacity.

    2. Marc Lee says:

      There is some thought, that “some” of this capacity may come back when the weather cools. It is possible that the battery is restricting capacity when hot to protect itself. But indications are that for the most part we are talking permanent capacity loss.

    3. Koz says:

      Actually, the opposite will happen once it cools below optimal. It may get slightly better at mild temps, as Mark Lee suggests, but Arizona also has cold winters (well…relatively cold compared to Florida where I am. Not Wisconsin cold but cold in the context of this discussion. Once temps get below 50 or so they will start to lose range similar to the Volt.

  11. Koz says:

    Nissan may offer to repair or replace packs on some pro-rated basis but that won’t fix the problem. They have a fundamental issue with their current battery implementation and hot climates. The only way out without major lawsuits is to buyback vehicles and stop selling into hot climates until they have a battery solution that that works reasonably well in these climates.

    1. Mark H says:

      I agree. I think it would be a shame for Nissan to lose credibility over a limited market. EV insiders must not take for granted that the masses will understand such a move though. I am guessing this is why Nissan is a little slow to respond. I made the statement that I plan on keeping my EV past the second battery 8 years from now. I bet my second battery (manufactured in 2020) will not be the same as the first.

  12. azonie says:

    With nissans current battery tech (or lack there of), out of all the possible solutions, the one that makes the most sence is to buy back all the ev’s sold in +95 degree climates and stop selling into those markes

  13. Bill Branham says:

    Nissan’s Director of Product Planning, Mark Perry spoke and says that Nissan is investigating “five complaints of rapid loss of battery capacity” and concluded “we want to learn more about what’s going on, but it’s something we’ve just been made aware of, and we don’t have any conclusions yet,”