Nissan Leaf losing battery capacity after only one year?


In brief: Nissan Leaf owners in Phoenix, Arizona are reporting huge battery losses after only a year of car ownership. Why?

Vehicle in the news

Make/Model: 2012 Leaf
Manufacturer: Nissan

The word

For weeks, owners of the new Nissan Leaf electric car in Phoenix, Arizona have been complaining about massive battery capacity losses (nearly 20%) after only one year of ownership. For many, this was the first "Phoenix summer" that the car was driven in and engineers independent of Nissan believe that the car's lack of a battery cooling system may be to blame.

The extreme heat in Phoenix (well over 100-degrees daily) can cause a lot of problems for equipment of all types. Electric cars like the Leaf are no different. Unlike the Focus Electric, Chevrolet Volt, and other EVs on the market, however, Nissan's Leaf does not have an active thermal management system on its battery pack. The heating/cooling is entirely through air flow.

Like other air-cooled vehicles, such as the old Volkswagen Bug or the Chevrolet Corvair, this means problems in very hot or very cold climates. For the Leaf, though, these problems are more than just "doesn't run well or overheats and stops." Instead, it's the destruction of one of the costliest components of the car - batteries.

Nissan has responded by saying "Battery capacity loss of the levels reported may be considered normal depending on the method and frequency of charging."

And so ...

Not very reassuring, but it points out a design flaw in the Leaf, which was rushed to production, that will need to be addressed.

Photo credits: Nissan

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