By on July 21, 2012

CBS 5 – KPHO

While Arizona is battling its wildfires, Nissan is having its hands full dousing the flames of Leaf owners in the Grand Canyon state. There is a rash of reports about degrading batteries, and owners blame the scorching heat.

“When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work on a single charge, approximately 90 miles round trip,” a Leaf owner, still an ardent fan of the car, told the Phoenix CBS affiliate. “Now I can drive approximately 44 miles on this without having to stop and charge.”

A TTAC reader reports:

“I personally was a 2011 LEAF owner in Phoenix. I lost a battery capacity bar at 10-1/2 months and 10,200 miles. I ended up selling the car out of concern about the battery. I then leased another 2012 LEAF for 2 years to keep driving gas free without the battery liability.”

Owners have banded together at the Mynissanleaf.com forum, where the thread stood at 162 pages at the time of this typing.

From reading the posts, owners still seem to stand behind the cars they believe in, but they “feel somewhat abandoned by the company they’ve supported,” as CBS reports. Nissan has made loaners available to affected owners, and will dispatched  half a dozen cars to Casa Grande to conduct extensive testing starting next week.

Contacted by TTAC, Nissan HQ in Yokohama had been unaware on Thursday, started looking into the matter on Friday, and asked on Saturday to wait for the outcome of their investigation.

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103 Comments on “Nissan Feels The Heat For Degrading Leaf Batteries In Arizona, Owners Feel Unloved...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Subsidized electric car buyers won’t take responsibility for their own gullible naivete. You don’t say. I have no sympathy and think they’re far more deserving of bad outcomes than Suzuki Maruti’s management.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Chill out.

      These folks are early adopters. This kind of thing happens when you’re the first to try new technology. It’s part of what makes it worth doing.

      Of course, some people who are early adopters didn’t realize what they were signing up for.

      And you object to the subsidy for EVs. I object to the US military posture that protects the oil industry, a policy that has been implemented by high school and college classmates. If we used less oil, my classmates would be out of harms way. Sending a few taxpayer dollars to Nissan seems like a small price to pay to support our troops by eventually bringing them home.

      • 0 avatar
        tankd0g

        You’d have to be pretty gullible to think that electric cars are going to stop wars. Afghanistan is full of rare earth metals. It’s not all about oil.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        The military does what the legislative and sometime the executive branch tells them to do. Your friends that enlisted or got a commission then become cogs in the machine. Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan; two out three ain’t bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @tankd0g: EVs in and of themselves wont stop the wars, but less demand for oil would have prevented them. If you don’t believe me, start with a list of the world’s genocidal $#!tholes and see where the Western militaries have seen fit to intervene. And, when I can kick the oil habit, I can at least comfort myself with the knowledge that I’m no longer fully a part of the problem.

        @El scotto: my friends who are in the military did volunteer. But, like me, they were stupid teenagers and 20-somethings who didn’t know what they were getting in to. My personal distaste for marching and shouting steered me away from that career (though I did seriously consider joining the military three times), so I lucked out. But none of us knew anything at that point, and my friends who had slightly different attitudes have endured nearly a decade of warfare that has little to do with what *I* thought I would have been signing up for back in 1998, 2000, and 2002.

        I’ve already reduced my oil consumption by 90% by choosing a house in the right place during a life change that happened to coencide with this realization. I’ve put my money where my mouth is, and I can probably cut 90% of what’s left by choosing the right EV or PHEV in the next couple of years.

        BTW, I drove a LEAF a few weeks ago and found it to be a delightful little commuter car, based purely on its merits as a car – before I even got to the issues I mentioned above.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        So you gave up all plastics? Tough to do these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Southerner

        Well Luke, considering the tone of your comment, I’m not surprised that classmates are implementing policy rather than your precious self.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    I agree, CJ. Silly tree hugging liberals get what they deserve.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Easy there folks. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a truck, a family sedan, sports car or a look-at-me-I’m-saving-the-planet electric car, the manufacturer still has to stand behind their product. Dismissing these Leaf customers right to get their cars repaired is like not supporting someones right to free speech just because they said something you didn’t agree with.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        No. This is like saying I have to pay for their lawyer too, which is often the case but nobody has to like it. Anyone in a position to take advantage of their fellow taxpayers by buying a Leaf has owned a fair number of battery powered devices and should understand their limitations.

      • 0 avatar

        CLInSD, not necessarily. I’ve had iPhones for the entire life of the product, starting in mid-2007, and I’ve never had a battery problem. I’ve am still using the original iPad I bought upon introduction years ago, and it’s battery still gives me excellent life. I bought a Nikon D300 digital still camera in late 2008, and after over 70,000 shots have yet to replace the battery – it’s still working great, and I finally replaced the D300 with a D4 two weeks ago.

        So with my recent use of battery-driven products, I’ve done great. My 2008 MacBook Pro did have battery problems, but ever since Apple changed from interchangeable to built-in batteries, they have not failed me.

        So if I owned a Leaf, Tesla, Volt or Prius, I would have a reasonable expectation that the battery would last per manufacturer claims.

        D

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        My tablet has instructions for battery care – don’t leave it sitting where the sun shines on it or anywhere hot – such as in a car. I’d say parking a Leaf outside in Arizona would have a fairly predictable effect on batteries.

        There’s a reason electric cars were largely abandoned a century ago and they’re equally impractical today without the enormous subsidies.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Kevin Jaeger: “There’s a reason electric cars were largely abandoned a century ago and they’re equally impractical today without the enormous subsidies.”

        Look at me through your LCD screen and the worldwide communications network you used to send that note and tell me that technology hasn’t changed in the last century.

        *cough*

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      ……I agree, CJ. Silly tree hugging liberals get what they deserve…..

      I know what you mean. Kind of like when a pickup full of redneck back woods ignorant a-holes died when the truck flipped over and the sliding window was blocked with a rifle rack…but hey the subsidy paid for Leaf owners would have looked like chicken feed compared to the health care costs of treating the rednecks’ diabetes had they lived…

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        There’s a simple fix for all of this… no. No tax subsidies, no funding, no medicaid, no obamacare. Just no, nein, non, nyet.

        Nissan is a global conglomerate, if they want to build toy cars, then let them on their own dime and market them using their own resources with no further help from the US government. Sure both Toyota and GM were given gov’t money to pursue their hybrid systems, but it doesn’t mean we keep have to throwing good money after bad. If the product cannot compete on its own merits, then consign it to the dustbin of history.

        If rednecks or whomever else gets premature diabetes and can’t pay, I feel for them… well no I don’t. Can’t pay, too bad you’re screwed. I don’t have the figures but I am sure somewhere someone has complied a percent of how much their taxes pay for state programs like medicaid… if we eliminate it and return the taxes, then perhaps people could use that money to find their own insurance or *gasp* save these funds to use on their own healthcare costs!

        Don’t the libs point to Darwinism as the likely source of evolution? Let’s put it to good use, give people the right resources and a choice to use them wisely. If they fail too, thanks for playing our game today, you’re screwed, please close the door on your way off the planet.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        The fact is Darwinism is essentially dead on this planet. Governments and societies pick winners and losers every day. As soon as CAT scans, double lung implants, protease inhibitors and other wonder drugs/treatments of the day were invented and implemented, Society chose over natural selection. Genetically, there will be hell to pay for that, too.
        Pure capitalism, solely based on greed and one’s ability to outmaneuver, by any means necessary, the competition is inefficient and painful. Darwin might like that, but nobody but the oligarchs themselves would want to live under those conditions. Or do you not care about how the quantity of rodent droppings and insect parts permitted in processed foods?
        Each day, the collective must make decisions and work together for the greater good. It’s too bad we have to legislate that behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Rifle racks are handy things for levels and fishing rods too.

      • 0 avatar

        Darwinism is not dead. It is fundamental law of nature. To say that Government can make Darwinism obsolete is like saying that Congress can declare Gravity out of law. Will everyone become weightless? No but most people will pretend that Gravity does not exist if no for other reason than to be politically correct. Darwinism continues in animal world as usual but for intelligent life it switched to level of intellectual, corporate and cultural competition. Roman empire and GM died because of law of Darwinism, as well as Soviet Union. Southern Europe’s continuing demise is the last manifestation of Darwinism. Japan is in a big trouble exactly because of Government intervention. In 70s you may think that Japan is going to take over the world. But this did not happen and actually opposite is happening – Asian tigers eat their launch and Japan is declining for decades.

        Stupid people live miserable lives and die prematurely regardless of how much Governments tries to help them. Them simply are not smart enough to take advantage of Government subsidies. If they were smart enough they would not need help from Government anyway. And smart people take advantage in any society. Soviet Union had the most totalitarian regime in world if you do not count North Korea and Cuba. Nevertheless smart people were making considerably more than average citizen because they were smart enough to know how take advantage of system and make money in black market.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Nissan’s much-ballyhooed 8 year battery warranty doesn’t cover “normal” gradual capacity loss. I think they need to update the warranty to cover gradual capacity loss if the battery loses more than a certain percentage of its capacity. I would also posit that, while this level of capacity loss may be “normal” for a car in a desert climate, it isn’t normal in the sense that an owner would reasonably expect this level of capacity loss.

    Nearly everyone has had a laptop with a battery that became useless after a year or two–this is much the same, except the battery is supposed to be under warranty for 8 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Yep. Batteries sitting everyday in 120F sun, on 140F pavement, experience performance problems? Imagine that. Just like my last five laptops. Just like my AA batteries for my camera. Just like … I can hear them being dropped in a landfill right now as I type this.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Yep, I’m wondering if some sort of additional thermal management system should have been designed into the battery. Perhaps one that would automatically keep the battery cool while running or charging in warm weather, and keep it warm in cold weather. Perhaps using antifreeze or some other liquid coolant along with fans and radiators.

        I wonder if any other EVs have such a TMS.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Did they not test out these things in extreme heat as well as extreme cold, not everyone lives in Northern California. As far as not parking in the sun, not everyone has a garage and even then at work, most likely you won’t either.

      • 0 avatar
        jstack6

        All other Electric Vehicles and even hybrids have at least active fan cooling. The Tesla and FORD Focus have liquid cooling along with the VOLT. Others also use a lithium battery chemistry that is much better in the heat. Only Nissan has no active cooling.

        In fact the new TESLA S has liquid cooling on the battery and controller and a 8 year unlimited miles warranty on the 300 mile range model S.

        Nissan did make battery heaters standard but never did anything about cooling. Their testing was all moving which sends air past the vehicle. They didn’t seem to park for 10 hours a day in the Sun.

    • 0 avatar
      tankd0g

      I think all Nissan should do is pay off these owners with a new battery, update their manual and warranty to reflect the TRUE COST of ownership of one of these toys and let people decide if they want to sign on to this DOA technology.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      … but this applies to all consumer goods, segfault. Up here in the rustbelt, rustproofing should be standard on all vehicles; otherwise, after 8 or 9 Ontario winters, most vehicles will literally bio-degrade. Should the 2/3 of the consumers who live in the other parts of the continent subsidize those units shipped to the rust belt states/Provinces?
      Then why should the rust belt states/Provinces subsidize the battery warranty in the sun belt states?
      I’m just saying. All consumer warranties are based on an average. No product can or should last forever. How long is acceptable, and who should pay for that, are the questions.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    I wonder if one way to address this would be to go to a different ownership model for electric cars, where the motorist buys the car but leases the battery. The terms of the battery lease would guarantee a minimum level of performance such that the car owner would be entitled to a new battery when performance dropped below that level.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      This is more or less the Better Place model, with the addition of swappable batteries built into the design. A BP customer buys the car, then buys the fuel from BP in the sense that batteries are swapped as needed to get to one’s destination. BP always owns the batteries, the customer just charges/swaps them as needed. A great model once sufficient battery swap stations are available, and therein lies the rub.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The rub is that someone still has to pay for battery degradation and replacement. Who will sign up for the model if they see the real cost?

      • 0 avatar
        MadHungarian

        I’m not suggesting swapping the battery everytime you need to “refuel” which is the Better Place concept. That would require agreeing to a standardized battery pack and some standard design parameters for the car that would allow the pack to be swapped out quickly, both of which are probably hard to implement and may slow down EV development. I just mean being able to go back to the dealer for a new battery when yours degrades to a certain point — which shifts to the manufacturer the risk of selling EV’s in non-battery-friendly climates (provided they are not allowed to vary the lease rate by zip code, OK, I see problems developing with this idea).

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      If you showed buyers what the batteries really cost in return for the energy they store over their lives, the whole electric car fiasco would be over this year. Anything else would be a subsidy rather than a business. Leafs with batteries that are kept fresh via replacement over their other systems’ useful lives would cost a few times as much as they already do. Someone has to pay for that, and it should be the people using the electric cars.

      • 0 avatar
        mik101

        I completely agree with this.

        Hyrbids make some sense where the end goal is to enhance the range of the ICE through regenerative breaking and such, but full electrics don’t make sense. Especially where that electricity is more expensive (my electricity costs 25% more than that bought 200 miles away for example) and it comes from oil burning steam turbines. Add to that the degrading battery/loss of range issue (which in my case would be due to cold) and it definitely doesn’t make sense at all to have an all electric. That is, unless ofcourse these greenies just want to screw the tax payers (subsidies) and government (fuel taxes).

        Come back when battery tech is ready for the abuse or it can be replaced cheaply enough that it doesn’t matter.
        It wasn’t ready 100 years ago, and it isn’t ready now.

        Since electricity is just going to get more expensive without more nuclear power stations (do we really see this happening after Fukishima?), we need to find another source of propulsion.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The technology needs some time to mature, but that won’t happen in laboratory settings. We need cars like the Leaf to provide thousands of real life data points so that the next generation of the product can be made better. No matter how much lab testing you do, there will always be something that you didn’t predict, or that happens differently than you anticipated, when your product hits the streets nationwide with a variety of owners wither different driving, charging, and maintenance habits.

        Electric vehicles are an early-adopter novelty for now, but the lessons learned will help eventually make them attractive and cost effective enough to assure wide market acceptance.

        Home computers, cell phones, LCD monitors, digital cameras, microwave ovens, color TVs, and countless other now commonplace items started out as impractical expensive novelties. Give electric cars time and they’ll get where they need to be.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        Sorry Nullo. BEVs are hundred year old technology. They are what they are, and they won’t change much. BTW wait until winter and the Minnesotans call in.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Robert –

        Today’s electric vehicles are worlds better than the first ones, and much more advanced than relatively modern predecessors like the EV-1.

        Battery technology will continue to improve. Right now the three biggest challenges are energy density (how big of a battery pack you need for a given range), price, and durability over multiple charge/discharge cycles. We’ve already gone from Lead Acid, to NiMH, to Li-Ion and there are more technologies looming ahead. Sodium based batteries could be made with similar energy density to Li-Ion but could be produced at a much lower cost. Metal-Air batteries have the potential to greatly increase energy density and greatly reduce charge times. All of this is coming in the next 3-10 years, and in the mean time automakers will learn how to squeeze every bit of performance out of what they have to work with currently to extend range and battery life with reducing size, cost, and charge times.

        The reason that we aren’t any further along with electric vehicles is that because until very recently there wasn’t nearly as much time and money being invested into coming up with solutions to improve them as there was going into refining the traditional ICE.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        “Sorry Nullo. BEVs are hundred year old technology. They are what they are, and they won’t change much. BTW wait until winter and the Minnesotans call in.”

        So true. Same thing with cell phones. We’ve been making cell phones for decades now and we’ve got them pretty much perfect. There are basically no problems with new cell phones. Cell phones are a well understood technology that hasn’t evolved at all and therefore, there aren’t any problems. The lead acid batteries used in cell phones today are great and exactly like the ones used in BEV’s one hundred years ago.

        Also, we never learn much about the practice of medicine because its “old” too (more than a hundred years – maybe even two hundred!).

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Nullo, you are correct in theory, and batteries will no doubt get better and better. But from where they are now to where they need to be, I think some major breakthroughs will be needed for widespread adaptation. And I am highly doubtful that we will get there in the near future. However, unless the usual early adopter process takes place, we won’t get the real world experience just like you pointed out. I just hope that early problems don’t poison the technology. Even today I hear people say plasma TVs suck because of the poor early performance. I get looks like I am idiot when I say that plasma still provides the best flat screen picture.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        mik101, did you read the 2007 report from CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” in which the total combined energy required to build each vehicle, including electrical, fuel, transportation of materials (around the globe), and hundreds of other factors over the life of each vehicle, they concluded that The Prius would average $3.25 per mile, whereas the Hummer was only !.95 per mile.
        The report was more of a scathing commentary on the true costs of globalism, but it was also meant to knock the tree huggers down a peg or two.
        Incidentally, with the Japanese government handing out subsidies left and right (Hello: Toyota Synergry drive to the tune of BILLIONS), if Washington doesn’t step up to the plate, then Japan Inc will end up owning all of GM and Ford’s patents soon enough.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        That “Dust to Dust” study was thoroughly debunked about 2 hours after it was published, and yet its still making the rounds in the internet 2 years later.. the energy used in making any car is a tiny fraction of the total energy a car uses over its lifetime in fuel.. and then its recycled and used to make more cars.. the oil it burns its gone forever and cannot be recycled.

        Use your common sense.. you really think a Prius is going to use more energy over its life than a Hummer because it has a lousy 170lb battery that has to be shipped around?.. that lethal battery that is made using nickel just like all the stainless steel eating utensils at your home.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @MafHungarian: “I wonder if one way to address this would be to go to a different ownership model for electric cars, where the motorist buys the car but leases the battery.”

      This has been extensively discussed in the EV community, and was floated by several EV makers (including Nissan).

      The community shot it down. As a culture, we like to own our cars. Also, the EV1 debacle is still a sore point with a lot of community, especially people who have been enthusiastic about electric cars since the 1990s — and those people will never lease a vehicle or any part of it, for fear that their vehicle will be taken out of their cold dead hands at the end of the lease period. (I personally don’t have such a hard line on leases for new-tech cars but, given how the EV1 fiasco played out, I do agree that this is something that potential leasees need to think about very carefully.)

      Anyway, if it weren’t for the way GM handled the EV1, leasing the battery might make a lot of sense — at least while the battery technology goes through a few rounds of real-world refinement. But, the ripple effects of The General givithing and The General takething away continue to this day. A number of former EV1 drivers/advocates are active in the forums making the case that this happened to them personally, and that rest of us shouldn’t risk it. And they really do make a compelling case.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @carbiz: “did you read the 2007 report from CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” in which the total combined energy required to build each vehicle, including electrical, fuel, transportation of materials (around the globe), and hundreds of other factors over the life of each vehicle, they concluded that The Prius would average $3.25 per mile, whereas the Hummer was only !.95 per mile.”

        If I recall correctly, that study was based on the presumption that a Prius would last 50k miles and the Hummer would last 300k miles.

        However, our Prius has 145k miles on it and is just barely starting to feel like a used car. The word in the enthusiast community is that the big batteries in 2nd-gen* (the kammback shape) and newer Prii last around 250k miles, and we don’t know how long the rest of car will last because most of them are doing fine.

        I’m not sure how well the Hummers are holding up. Since they’re based on the Chevy/GMC truck platform, they can presumably last as long as the Silverado — which probably is good to 250k-300k miles these days (with maintenance). But I don’t see very many of them, and I haven’t been tracking their longevity.

        In any case, the fundamental assumption behind that study (that the Prius wouldn’t last very long) was bogus. Ask any Toyota service manager how the fleet of Prii they maintain is holding up, and you’ll hear that they’re long-lasting and reliable little cars.

        [*] The 1st-gen batteries didn’t last very long, and people were right to be skeptical of the 2001-2003 Prius’s battery. Those batteries were replaced and the cars are still on the road for the most part, though — including two people that I work with who are still using 1st-gen Prii as daily drivers. If you value efficiency and technology in your car, there was exactly 1 choice from 2001-2011, and we’re just now starting to see cars that are competing with the Prius head on, rather than bringing a hybrid drivetrain to an unoccupied segment.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Dust to Dust” is a great tool for identifying gullible suckers. The CNW guys must have had a good laugh putting it together.

        I summarized it in a previous post:

        It’s riddled with flaws, but one of the most basic ones is that it presumes that a Prius has about half the useful life of a Wrangler, while full-sized SUVs last far longer than average. According to this, the average Prius is projected to last for 109,000 miles, versus about 179,000 miles for the average car and 207,000 miles for a Wrangler. If you believed these guys, full-size domestic SUVs are all going to average at least 265,000 miles, while a Toyota Corolla comes in below average at 169,000.

        There’s no way that anything this bad could ever make it past peer review. The conclusions aren’t supported, nor does it cite any credible third-party sources to create a basis for the numbers. Fortunately, it is thick, so anyone who owns a bird won’t be lacking for a cage liner with this one.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Now you see Nissan, steam would’ve held up better than a battery to the heat, but then again I could be wrong, correct me if I am.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Don’t provide thermal protection for a battery and then wonder why the thing is cooked in record heat and won’t hold a charge.

    Physics are a bitch.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      LMAO and don’t confuse people with facts.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Something that GM did for the Volt’s powerpack and what numerous people have warned Nissan about.

      Cost-cutting on the propulsion system is not something that Nissan should have done.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        But, but, but, but, that made the Volt to expensive. Those silly GM engineers with their range extending engine and commute only fully electric range and their thermal protection systems – what the Hell were they thinking.

        I think in the last 12 to 18 months we’ve learned a few things.

        A) The market is not as ready for EV, range extending EV, or plug-in hybrids as the hype wanted up to believe.

        B) The Chinese are NOT coming to kill all of the EVs in the market. (BYD’s vaporeware $20,000 EV)

        C) Fisker will be lucky to survive

        D) Unless you’re a diehard fan, Tesla’s got troubles – they aren’t on the rocks yet, but drifting that way

        E) None of the cars are selling anywhere close to expectations (including the S), and only the Prius Plug-In and the Volt have a heartbeat. I’ll say the S has a faint pulse.

        D) Range extension technology appears to be the short term win given on what consumers are opening their wallets to buy.

        E) Cutting corners to reach a consumer price point – bad idea

        F) None of these vehicles are ready for a mass market – e.g. we do not have an example of a Model T “EV” today or in the immediate future

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Physics are a bitch.”

      +1 lol.

  • avatar
    Prado

    “Nissan… will dispatched half a dozen cars to Casa Grande to conduct extensive testing starting next week.” Nissan has had testing facilities here in Arizona a long time. Wouldn’t it have already been extensively tested here?, or do they use a different hot weather facility for JDM cars. Here is the test facility: 7815 North White and Parker Road, Stanfield, AZ 85272-9642, U.S.A.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      I’m sure it was tested there before release. But, they’re now testing cars that have been out in the real world for several months which are experiencing battery capacity issues. Presumably, they can test the actual range of the cars there to better assess the capacity loss.

      • 0 avatar
        ydnas7

        Nissan probably tested as many LEAFs there as they could
        but
        testing personnel probably intuitively did the little things that just made the batteries life sufficiently easier that this level of degradation was not encountered.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Employees who work at Nissan’s Arizona test facility could have tested them in the “real world” every day commuting to work, but… that sounds too far-fetched a concept for Nissan. It’s easier just to create a performance degradation curve (that disadvantages the customer), and not mention/publicize it till the customer notices. This is just like those engines that burn a quart of oil every 600 miles, that are “in-spec” according to the dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        jeffzekas

        like my son’s VW: “It’s normal for the Jetta to use one quart every thousand miles”, a revelation to me, after owning a Toyota Corolla which burned NO oil after 180,000 miles!

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        jeffzekas:
        Something to consider. A girlfriend of mine bought a 1987 Jetta GLI with 100k on it back in 1991. Her GLI used 1 quart every 1000 miles, and we gave up trying to find out where the oil was going. (My 1986 GLI, by contrast, used a quart in 5000 miles or more.) So here’s what we did: we dumped in a quart of normal oil when needed, changed only the filter at 5000 miles (never drained the oil). She drove about 35k/year. The car went past 350,000 miles, she sold it to a teenager in town, and we’ve seen it driving around for many years thereafter. She loved the car, and we used its “defect” to our advantage the best we could. In another era, I owned a 1984 Thunderbird Turbo that was even worse, 600 miles per quart. Boy was that a rolling, daily advertisement not to buy a Ford ever again.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Its possible that a combination of always keeping the car topped off at 100% (when you only drive 15 miles a day) plus the lethal heat in Phoenix did the batteries in.. Nissan will soon find out and fix the problem or they will have wasted their $6 billion worldwide investment in electric cars as their reputation goes down the drain.. it may involve replacing the batteries in all 400 Arizona Leafs at a cost of $6 million. Nissan did test the cars in Arizona but apparently they missed it.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Typical Japanese arrogance: when GM got a batch of new (then) 1999 Trackers that wouldn’t start in cold weather, GM sent a bunch of them up to Kapuskasing Ontario for some real cold weather testing, over Suzuki’s protestations. They had a state of the art cold weather lab right in the motherland! GM Canada knows from cold, so they did their own testing, and a simple electronic adjustment later, the new trucklets proved to be hardy Canadian troopers.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    All the more reason why natural gas needs to be given a more serious look as a stop gap for a transportation fuel.

    100% electric cars are simply not ready yet for prime time, even when you have the perfect storm of a compact, enclosed golf cart, adoring fans that will overlook anything to “save the planet”, and generous state and federal subsidies on both the production and purchase. Yet you still have all sorts of issues with something as simple as hot weather.

    I don’t see 100% battery powered vehicles making up a majority of new car sales for at least 20 years. We’ve been hearing they’re around the corner since the 1950s. Meanwhile, I can guarantee you gas will be well over $5 a gallon in the US in less than 3 years. natural gas is an affordable bridge until the technology gets here.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Agree. Europe has never clambered for them, at 2X and 3X the US fuel prices.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I would buy a CNG/LNG fueled vehicle if you weren’t gouged $10K for the privilege.

      The Honda Civic is great on paper, but you get a no option stripper with no trunk – sorry, I’ll go EV and get the tax breaks first.

      It would never happen, but if the government gave out tax breaks to retrofit existing vehicles (because the cost is $10K to $13K) I think you’d have a lot more takers.

      • 0 avatar
        myleftfoot

        CNG very costly retail in bay area. I recently looked it up 2x cost of OKC. Agreed premium price not justified unless HOV sticker is the reason.
        I would really like BEV or EREV to succeed. I hope Nissan puts some effort into a solution. They already sunk billions in the program.

      • 0 avatar
        Crosley

        I’m not sure the reasoning for Honda pricing its CNG vehicles the way they do, but the price of a conversion has the potential to go down substantially below $10,000. I believe much of this cost has to do with ridiculous licensing requirements by the EPA.

        I’ve seen people with aftermarket kits convert their cars for well under $2,000.
        http://skycng.com/CNGconversionkitprices.php

        A major car manufacturer should be easily able to incorporate it for substantially less, they just need to be able to count on the sales volume to justify the retooling.

        People pay well over $10,000 to have the “luxury” of a turbocharged diesel truck, a CNG powered would save far more money in fuel costs.

        I think the government can help get the ball rolling by mandating federal and municipal vehicles have a large percentage of their fleet running on CNG, much of this is already taking place purely for the cost savings. You would then see private businesses make the investment into refueling infrastructure if hundreds of thousands of vehicles were coming online needing CNG.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        A small and fairly well defined group need torque out of their truck. Lots and lots of gob-smacking torque to haul things. I wouldn’t want to use a CNG/LNG truck to pull a trailer out of a field.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Crosley, note that they conveniently dont include the cost of the tank(s) in that kit you listed.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “Natural gas is an affordable bridge until the technology gets here.”

      Affordability is only one issue. For most people, fueling up with CNG is incredibly inconvenient. I live in the heart of a major metropolitan area and would have to drive over 12 miles through city traffic (that’s just one way) to fill up with CNG. Add in the 25 minutes (one way) I’d spend driving under non-existent “ideal” circumstances with no traffic and you’ve got a transportation punishment, not a transportation solution.

      For company fleets that can afford an on-premises, multi-million dollar CNG fueling station and for those few consumers who happen to live near a retail CNG fueling station, CNG is great. For the rest of us, not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        CNG vehicles share one thing with EVs: you normally refuel at home at this point in history.

        Millions of homes have natural gas hot water heaters and furnaces. You can get a CNG compressor that can fill your vehicle at night. I hear that it takes about as long as recharging an electric car to compress 5PSI furnace gas into CNG, but who cares, you’ve got all night. And, if you don’t have all night, then you can drive that 12 miles.

        When you always start the day with a full tank or a full battery, you only to visit a refueling station when you travel long distances. (Which could be a lot of the time for some people, but it isn’t for everyone.)

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        The Phil home NG compressor is expensive and requires lots of maintenance, it had been out of production for several years before recently coming back.. but Eaton is promising a new $500 home compressor using something called “liquid piston”, supposedly wear proof and able to fast fill a car.. probably from a built-in tank. Read about it here:
        http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/07/eaton-20120720.html

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @Crosley: “100% electric cars are simply not ready yet for prime time, even when you have the perfect storm of a compact, enclosed golf cart,”

      I recommend you drive the Leaf. It has real limitations, but it does not drive like a golf cart. It has a direct-drive gearbox, so it’s extraordinarily smooth and has a lot of low-end power for the traffic-light gauntlet.

      It’s pulls like a 4-banger at 70mph (but without the banging). I didn’t take it much past 75mph, though, so I can’t speak to it’s flat-out performance — but if you were going to drive 80mph a lot, you probably wouldn’t be interested in a compact commuter car anyway.

      I agree that EVs are a niche vehicle (their limitations are real), but you really should drive one before calling it a golf cart. It weights more than my V6 Escape, and could probably beat my Escape every time in city-stoplight-hurdles. Go out on the Interstate for an hour, though, and the Escape wins. Its very easy to come up with people and scenarios where the LEAF isn’t the right tool, but sure would be a nice tool for *my* commute.

  • avatar
    Ishwa

    As APaGttH said: “Don’t provide thermal protection for a battery and then wonder why the thing is cooked in record heat and won’t hold a charge.”

    Nissan seems to have done an inadequate job protecting Leaf’s battery. Obviously battery life will decrease by X% per year, but it should clearly not be dropping by the magnitude that they are experiencing. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the Leaf customers to be upset given the dramatic capacity drop in their basically-new cars.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    We must assume the EV’s won’t be very popular in the middle east?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    So if you live in Arizona or Alaska, don’t bother with an EV, maybe they shouldn’t even sell them in those states, also exclude all SW states as well.

  • avatar

    Fellow citizens, I want to make several statements regarding this sad incident:

    1. First is my advice to all of you: If you want to drive electric car – do not be cheap – go buy Volt. It is a more expensive and has complex technology but at least you will not get stuck in the middle of nowhere in Arizona (it is the last place in the Earth after Siberia where I would like to get stuck in dead car).

    2. If you bought electric car and have problems do not worry – president Obama will come to your rescue, at taxpayers expense of course. Just get off your a$$ in November, go to voting booth and cry “Obama, we need you!”. I am ready to pay for your expenses from my taxes.

    4. Be happy that you live in USA where taxpayers are rich and happy to come to your rescue (along with your president).

    3. My Compaq laptop was running very cool and I did not have problem with battery six years I was using it. My newer HP laptop runs very hot and I already replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “4. Be happy that you live in USA where taxpayers are rich and happy to come to your rescue (along with your president).

      3. My Compaq laptop was running very cool and I did not have problem with battery six years I was using it. My newer HP laptop runs very hot and I already replaced.”

      You think you are making incisive political commentary, but you are actually demonstrating that the Bush administration’s “No child left behind” educational system is a failure.

      Joke time!

      Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven nine eight! Get it?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        You mean seven eight nine?

        Kind of like: If Mississippi wore her New Jersey, what would Delaware? Idaho, Alaska….

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks God I was not exposed American public school system. I am an immigrant and I have PhD in Theoretical Physics. My thesis was about non-linear field equations and Quantum Chromo Dynamics (known as QCD to unwashed masses) if your are so curious about my education.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Inside Looking Out – I was born and raised in the US but spent twelve years in private education, there are those of us out there who were not afflicted by a ‘public’ schooling system. I am no physicist, but I do know heat tends to have a negative effect on electronics over time, from computers to electric cars. Perhaps this knowledge isn’t as widespread as one would think. Good luck on your thesis.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Inside Looking Out: “…I have PhD in Theoretical Physics.”

        One of the risks of pulling rank on the Internet is that someone else will have the same rank and will call you on it. I spent the first 10 years of my career supporting people with PHDs with computing. I respect the work, and theoretical physics is a challenging field, but I’ve worked with at least one card-carrying rocket scientists (AIAA members with tenure) who couldn’t find the power switch on their desktop. And this person is an aerospace engineer!

        Just because you’re an expert in a difficult and abstract field doesn’t make you an expert on everything else.

        If my car is broken, I’ll take the advice of a mechanic over a mechanical engineer any day — because the mechanic is more likely to validated his fix, even if his theory is a little weak. The ME will likely do better if we’re creating something new, of course, but he’d best talk to the mechanics so that he/she can leverage their practical experience.

        So: congratulations on your dissertation (it’s called a dissertation at your level), and you’re an expert in THEORETICAL physics. I’ll be sure to call you if I need some heavy math solved, or if I’m wondering the details about how electrons and photons interact to make metals shiny.

        A top-tier human brain can only accumulate so much knowledge in a human lifetime, so you must choose wisely. Physics is cool stuff, and computational modeling and simulation (based on physical modeling) lets engineers do things in an afternoon that used to take years. But when I want to know how real shit breaks on real cars, I’m going to ask a mechanic. There’s no substitute for that. Theoretical physics sure ain’t it.

        P.S. If you need a real-world computer set up to crunch your equations, call me.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to start getting some sweet mortgage interest and state property tax subsidies from the feds! Those would definitely be comparable to the one-time tax credit I got for 2011..

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “the one-time tax credit I got for 2011″

        When the one year anniversary rolls around, you should put together an article about your experiences. It’d be great to hear from an actual owner.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Look, I feel your pain and we get that Americans hate paying taxes (unless it is to spend a billion or two on a new aircraft carrier named after a dead President), but since you guys champion globalization, and since every single other major player either subsidizes the beejeesus out of their industries (Japan) or blackmails everyone else to build them there (Brazil), you either have to play by the rules and subsidize the home team, or be big enough to change the rules.
      I think it’s kind of fitting that every single sports-plex in Texas has a big Toyota emblem on the roof. It’ll let the Martians know not to bother landing there, to head off across the Pacific where the real leaders are…..

    • 0 avatar
      piro

      You may have a PhD, but “if your so curious”? I guess English was never a strong point.

      • 0 avatar

        I do not need “strong English” since I am not in political science. I am one of those who came to this country to do a real work behind the scene because I am paid better than in my native country. Of course it is one of those jobs which requires so much effort including getting education so most people who has “strong English” do not want to do.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    By the tone of those in defense of the Leaf and EV’s in general I must conclude that these silly Leaf owners did not realize they were in fact participating in a massive beta test. As someone else posted, can’t wait to hear from Minneapolis/St. Paul come January. Mileage may vary indeed. If this were run of the mill 2012 Sentra’s that were getting half the mileage out of a tank of gas after 7 months of use, they’d be labeled poorly engineered POS’s and rightly so. But since its an EV, lets all hold hands and sing ‘All we are saying, is give Leaf a chance.”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I can say my former employer, who was the technology division of the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in the world, routinely released final version product software which was still in a ‘beta’ phase, and on one occasion ‘alpha’ phased software to four ‘beta’ clients who expected… it to work somewhat I would assume. I’ve seen some fireworks my friends, but unfortunately that’s whats happens in a business world slowly losing any integrity. Caveat emptor.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @panzerfause: “By the tone of those in defense of the Leaf and EV’s in general I must conclude that these silly Leaf owners did not realize they were in fact participating in a massive beta test.”

      That is the current state of EV technology. I drove the Leaf and loved it, but it is in the early-adopter phase at this point. In other words, a beta test.

      • 0 avatar
        panzerfaust

        So… Arizonans whose Leaf has lost half its range should not be surprised that Nissan shrugs its corporate shoulders and says in so many words ‘what did you expect?”

  • avatar
    Kipster

    Unless you are new to AZ, if you bought a Leaf here, you have only yourself to blame. A standard car battery will normally last only 3 to 4 years. If I leave a cordless tool in the garage, the battery deteriorates after the first summer. After the second summer, half the cordless batteries will be totally useless. Why would I expect any better from an EV’s battery?

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    We need Obama to get on TV and address this injustice immediately by finger pointing, talking down to us like we’re children, and handing out a few more billions to flailing electric car projects and the new algae powered car he promised us all…

    It’s that the 99% want.

    • 0 avatar

      Obama as well as chemistry has nothing to do with it. It is Bain Capital’s fault that battery dies prematurely and if you elect Romney you can kiss goodbye to batteries and electric cars. Everything will be outsourced to China. I love when Obama lectures us lemmings. He is so smart!

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Funny you should mention outsourcing to China. The Leaf and its batteries will be made in Smyrna Tennessee after December.

        Our currency “weakens” and our manufacturing strengthens. Economists know it, but Fox News doesn’t — because a “weak” currency means a “weak america”, even though a “weak” currency makes our exports competitive on the world markets and actually strengthens our manufacturing sector. (Of course, manufacturing in the USA has been doing just fine — it’s manufacturing JOBS that have taken a dive.)

      • 0 avatar

        Weak currency is government wealth redistribution scheme. It is taking money from savers who earned the money by hard productive work and giving some part of these money to unproductive part of society who are net spenders and another part to another nonproductive part of society – government bureaucrats who manage these money. In general it distorts the economic process and the whole economy as well. It basically keeps on life support non-competitive sectors of economy and hurt savers and productive sectors of economy. Sooner or later reality kicks in and non-competitive part of economy collapses anyway. Japan is a good example – they are in never ending economic quagmire for how long? Like 20 years already?

      • 0 avatar

        @ Inside Looking Out:

        Most of what you say is true. A weak currency is a huge tax on everybody, because it makes imports expensive.

        However, if Japan is a good example, then it is an example for low other currencies have sunk in relationship to the yen. The yen is obscenely high, as will become painfully clear when you step out of a plane in Tokyo and try to buy something with those green notes – they won’t get you far at all.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Most of what you say is true.”

        Most of what he says is false. I do hope that he’s better at theoretical physics than he is at macroeconomics, since he clearly doesn’t know much about the latter.

        Japan has a strong currency. If anything, Japan provides a good example of how having a strong currency ain’t necessarily a ticket to Nirvana. Where he got the idea that Japan had a weak currency, I have no idea, but that view has no basis in reality, at all.

      • 0 avatar

        I did not say that Japan has a weak currency. What I said is that weakening currency like QE is redistribution of wealth. Japanese economy is weak because it is based on export and manipulated by government. It is in state of stagnation like last twenty years. Japanese and other Asian countries export real goods and get in exchange fiat currency which is piece of computer data with the only guarantee that American government will someday honor its obligation regarding dollar if it wish to do so. But it does not guarantee that American government will not devalue dollar. Therefore what Americans get are real good, real 3D HDTVs, cars and etc right now. And what Japanese get in exchange is not gold, not even paper but numbers in database which they hope sometime in the future (if there is a future) they could utilize somehow minus the value lost due to weakening of dollar and inflation. Therefore QE is not only redistribution of wealth from hardworking Americans to American slackers and freeloaders but also from other hardworking countries countries to America. America becomes richer at expense of other countries by doing essentially nothing other than printing money. Now Japanese may feel rich on computer screen but in reality they are losers. And winners are Americans who drive Japanese cars and watch Japanese TVs while coming up with new sophisticated financial schemes to redirect wealth from other nations to continue to be a richest nation in the history of the world without producing anything substantial.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I will offer a bit of a detail on the longevity of other hybrid and electric batteries here in Georgia. Since the heat issue effects the longevity of battery packs in this part of the world as well.

    The first generation Priuses tend to have bad batteries once they hit the 120k to 150 mark. The 2nd and 3rd generations seem to be relatively flawless so far.

    The first generation Civic hybrid and Insight Hybrid tend to have far worse battery issues than the Prius. I have seen plenty of 1st generation Civic Hybrids whose batteries didn’t even make it to 8 years or 100k. The Inisghts seem to require a replacement before they hit the 10 year or 150k mark.

    The 2nd generation of both models don’t seem to have any issues. But keep in mind that the 2nd gen Civic Hybrid was released in 2006 and the 2nd gen Insight is only a couple of years old.

    Toyota and Honda dealerships will have far more data than yours truly. This only represents what I have seen at the auctions in the metro-Atlanta area. My findings are purely an anecdotal observation. Nothing more.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Please keep the anecdotal comments coming. Your auction comments are insights to the real world where dealers spend their money on the ride moving down the line. Much more relevant to me than some discussions here that evolve/devolve to a level only Descartes would appreciate.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      The Honda hybrid batteries have been a disaster, but Toyota’s have been bulletproof with many taxi applications reaching 300k miles. Hyundai and Kia proudly announced a lifetime warranty on their batteries not too long ago.

  • avatar

    Unless nanotech changes things, I suspect that there are some very real chemical and physical barriers to developing batteries with sufficient power density to be practical for more than urban vehicles.

    In part we have personal computers because of how hard it is to make a practical battery powered car. The Xerox PARC facility, which invented many of the concepts in the computer you’re using to read this, was founded by Jack Goldman. Xerox hired Goldman away from Ford, where he headed Ford Scientific Laboratories. Goldman’s personal area of research at Ford was the development of sodium-sulfur batteries for use in EVs. One reason he left Ford is that he became convinced that battery EVs just weren’t practical.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    If you read any history you will find that governments all over the world have subsidized new technology!
    I’m not saying that its good or bad…just the way it is….

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Except batteries are not even remotely a new technology. They were abandoned for general automotive purposes a century ago while still being used in selective cases where they made sense. Those have ranged from submarines to indoor forklifts, to golf carts and personal scooters. Their strengths and limitations for the various purposes are well understood.

      The idea that this is some innovative technology at the frontier of discovery is utterly preposterous.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Diesel electric submarines with old style lead acid battery banks have been around for decades, and you can bet new ones using diesel fuel-cells with lithium batteries are in the wings. The military is a voracious consumer of batteries, but the driving demand for advancement are portable electronic devices.. phones, tablets, laptops etc. I would not be too surprised to see batteries with higher energy density than diesel in a decade or two, the tech is advancing very quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Kevin Jaeger: “The idea that this is some innovative technology at the frontier of discovery is utterly preposterous.”

        But batteries *can* be made better/faster/cheaper/lighter/denser. Same physics, better engineering.

  • avatar
    obbop

    The three button-type batteries in my 1986 Hewlett-Packard calculator are the original batteries and the calculator still turns over and runs.

  • avatar
    danwat1234

    Hmm I wonder what temperatures the battery pack is reaching to have this much reduction in range!?

    Hopefully computer logs will reveal this. Maybe the Leaf should have had liquid cooling for the battery pack rather than just air-flow cooling, or a much higher CFM fan system.


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