Following multiple complaints, Nissan has announced that it will replace batteries that lose power too quickly in the all-electric Nissan Leaf. Meanwhile, it says it will also upgrade the warranties for all Leafs, past, present and future.
Replace or repair faulty Nissan Leaf batteries
Nissan announced on Dec. 27 that it will replace the lithium-ion battery in Leaf cars that loses more than 30 percent (nine of 12 bars on the vehicle’s battery capacity gauge) of its ability to hold a charge after five years or 60,000 miles. The offer is retroactive, affecting all Leafs from 2011, its first model year, until at least forthcoming 2013 models.
Andy Palmer, Nissan’s executive vice president, said, “For Leaf vehicles whose batteries have fallen below nine bars during this period, Nissan will repair or replace the battery under warranty with a new or re-manufactured battery to restore capacity at or above a minimum of nine bars.”
The upgraded warranty, which goes into affect early next year, will affect approximately 18,000 Leaf owners in the U.S.
Owners complain of early capacity loss
Nissan has claimed from the start that the Leaf battery, like those in cell phones, will gradually lose the ability to hold a charge over time. However, many owners have complained that their batteries were losing that capacity more quickly than the company said. After the complaints piled up, it became clear that they were mostly from owners in locations with higher than normal temperatures, especially in Arizona and Texas.
In particular, seven Leaf owners in Arizona got together to make an issue of the capacity loss. Nissan then claimed that those owners had faulty gauges and that the batteries were behaving up to specifications.
That angered disgruntled owners, and a lawsuit was filed in California, accusing Nissan of false and contradictory claims about its Leaf batteries. That suit stated that “Nissan failed to disclose its own recommendations that owners avoid charging the battery beyond 80 percent in order to mitigate battery damage and failed to disclose that Nissan’s estimated 100 miles range was based on a full charge battery, which is contrary to Nissan’s own recommendation for battery charging.”
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An unprecedented move
Nissan had hoped to expand sales, moving a projected 20,000 Leafs in the U.S. this year. Through November, however, U.S. Nissan dealers (such as Everett Magic Nissan) moved only 8,330 units, a rate 5 percent lower than in 2011. Nissan is making the unprecedented move of offering limited warranty coverage for battery capacity failure in electric vehicles in a scramble to not let bad press lower its sales any further.