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Nissan Leaf - Screwed!


This is a long-delayed update to our Nissan Leaf EV chapter, but as you'll see below it's a significant one...

In the beginning... when we initially sat down at a Nissan dealership (Santa Monica Nissan - now no longer in business), we were concerned about the vagueness of battery life assurances and warranties from Nissan. However, we understood that the Lithium-ion battery technology was new, especially as custom-developed by Nissan for the Leaf, so we went ahead, hopeful that Nissan would clarify things and reassured that they would not leave us "stranded."

In the next few years (~2012-2013) some Leaf drivers, primarily in hot-weather southern California and Arizona, initiated a lawsuit against Nissan because their battery pack capacity was dropping drastically. Eventually a class action lawsuit resulted in an agreement that Nissan would replace (not repair) battery packs which fell below a threshold of 9 "bars" as indicated by the car's gauge, within 5 years or 60,000 miles. A new Leaf indicates a full charge at 12 bars, but as the battery pack ages, the capacity drops and the car shows it accordingly in fewer bars after a complete charge.

At the time of the settlement, our battery pack capacity had fallen, but not enough to warrant a pack replacement. But that changed last week, at the end of April 2016. Unfortunately, this is also just about the 5-year anniversary of our Leaf -- April 29, 2011, to be exact. I wasn't able to get the car to a dealer for a checkup until May 2, 2016, when they indeed diagnosed a pack which needed to be replaced, but Nissan says we are over the deadline by a few days!

Technically, the diagnosis wasn't confirmed until Monday, May 2, but also technically, the car fell below the 9-bar threshold before 4/28. I remember exactly when I noticed this because I took the car out on 4/28 after a full charge to drive to the Auto Club to pay for my registration renewal and noted the irony of the timing and even mentioned it to Jean when getting back home.

Now, understand that while I'd certainly appreciate a new pack replacement, given that we're at the deadline for the warranty, I'd like SOME consideration from Nissan instead of a firm NO answer.

By the way, here is the exact timetable for the capacity drop for our Leaf:

Date Capacity
4/29/2011 12 00004
7/19/2013 11 32,134
11/24/2013 10 35,464
3/31/2015 9 40,855
4/28/2016 8 ~43,500

If you're very observant, you'll have noticed that we drove the Leaf a lot less after 2013. This is partly because Jean retired from a job which piled the miles on because of a 25-mile (one-way) commute. The other reason is that the Leaf range dropped enough for us to not favor it for longer drives. Although I don't yet have the stats for our 2003 Toyota RAV4EV published, it has turned out that its "old" technology NiMH batteries have done much better than the Li-ion batteries in the Leaf.

Note also that we are still nowhere near the 60,000 mile warranty threshold. Had Jean continued to commute in the Leaf, the problem would probably have been much more obvious.

I'm still hoping for a happy ending to this story, but at the current time, I'm still trying to make contact with someone at Nissan...