Customers Complain About Nissan Leaf Battery Charging Capacities image

More and more owners of Nissan Leaf complain about their car’s ability to retain power, but the company shows no concern over the matter.

The company declared last week that over five years the Leaf battery is expected to retain 80% of its capacity, at which point the battery needs management but not replacement. But this contradicts what some owners in Arizona have declared. They said that after only one year of driving the battery does not retain power at 100% of its capacity.

Nissan doesn’t seem to be concerned of this issue and says that these cases are isolated compared to the overall number of Leaf customers. Although this is true, it cannot be neglected that there are customers who are not satisfied with the battery’s charging capacities. The company maintains its original statement about the battery’s five-year retention.

Given the fussy history of this vehicle and the skepticism that surrounds it, any issue concerning the quality of this car should be handled quickly and quietly. Once people start to believe that Nissan sells cars with unreliable batteries, it would only mean a disaster for the Leaf and probably EVs’ sales across the board. Just think about how long it took to settle down rumors about the Fisker Karma, and before that the Chevy Volt.

  • Amy Tran

    Nissan uses LiMn2O4 battery, which is well known to have dissolution of Mn3+ into the electrolyte at elevated temperature (>45 celsius), which accelerates the degradation of battery performance. That is why GM use liquid cooling. Even in the case of GM, the battery will have significant degradation after 5 years.
    Any battery scientist will tell you the biggest worry is the battery loses capacity in a few years (2-4 years). Using LiMn2O4 battery without sophisticated cooling is a no-no in automotive technology.

    • @MrEnergyCzar

      why would the liquid cooled "babied" Volt battery have significant degradation after 5 years.. you can't even charge it above 80% or below 29%….

  • Amy Tran

    That is why this problem pops up in Arizona where it is very hot. Another thing to consider is TO avoid have the battery capacity topped all the time, only charge it 10h before you make a trip >40 miles.

  • Dave

    I think the key point is EV owners need to understand the capabilities and limitations BEFORE they purchase; regionally, dealers and service centers need to understand how the vehicle behaves differently in their environment. Do people in MI complain that their cars rust due to road salt? Maybe but they expect it and the auto industry took decades to improve steel corrosion treatments on all cars to countermeasure this. EV's are brand new and the technology is being rolled out to both gain acceptance, build infrastructure and hopefully make some profit. That means there will be trade offs before the difference from EV and conventional power trains are transparent to customers. In the mean time the problem is with expectations not capability. If you can accept the limited range and the maintenance routine then don't get one.

    • Mason

      Dave, there are Leaf owners who have been involved in the EV industry for decades who are now stunned by what they are seeing. It truly is a capability issue with the Leaf, unless we were unreasonable to expect a major auto manufacturer to have design a car with a battery management system that would not trash the batteries (with proper owner care) in less than 18 months. Yes, we have seen EVs with batteries that could not tolerate the desert southwest. The NiMH EV1s come to mind. But we have also seen it done right. Case in point the temperature-controlled packs on the Tesla EVs. I guess it was too much to expect for companies to be *improving* technology… or at the very least maintaining what had already been achieved.

  • Dave Phoenix

    I live in Arizona and bought a Volt instead of a Leaf. Liquid cooling of the battery was a key issue.

    I had a Honda Civic Hybrid, which also had air-cooled batteries. One hot summer in AZ and battery performance fell way off. Meanwhile, Toyota Prius batteries, which are liquid-cooled, are lasting a very long time. I took note of that when looking for an EV.

    The Volt battery is doing great even in the hot weather. I lose a little range from running the AC, but I am not losing any KWH's of charge. I still get all my bars.

    • David Murray

      Prius batteries are not liquid cooled. But they are a different chemistry being NiMh.

  • James

    I'm part of the developing Arizona Leaf story and I'm not satisfied with Nissan's response thus far. After calling the dedicated Nissan help line, their recommendation was to park my car in the shade and not charge when the car is hot. Great advice if nighttime temps weren't also blazing hot and my garage was air-conditioned. We've lost one bar so far, and according to reports around the web I can fully expect to lose a second bar before the summer is finished.

    We love the Leaf. It really is an amazing car., But, and this is a very strong but, I would recommend to anyone looking at one right now to lease, not buy. We bought, and I regret the decision. Reports from more temperate climates seem positive, but the Leaf absolutely needs an active thermal management system in places like Texas and Arizona.

    Until they address the issue they can expect to find my name in every forum I can find, I have plenty of time on my hands, and I'm tenacious.

    • Mason

      Good for you, James. I am a 2-bar loser in Phoenix. I will welcome you into the 2-bar club when the time comes, unfortunately. I'm also disgusted with Nissan's response. We're attacking this from multiple angles behind the scenes. I'm most appalled at Nissan's blatant denial of an issue and outright fraudulent statements. I look forward to hanging them with their own words!