Nissan Leaf Battery Range Upsets Owners

Nissan Leaf Battery Range Upsets Owners

A growing group of Nissan Leaf owners are discontented with their car’s ability to retain power over the not-so-long term, but the company doesn’t seem concerned.

Last week it addressed complaints that the battery might not retain a full charge as little as a year down the line by saying it expects the Leaf to retain 80 percent of its capacity over five years, at which point it will require maintenance, but not replacement.

That’s contrary to what some owners in Arizona are finding after as little as one year of driving and 13,633 miles travelled in one particular case according to Green Car Reports. 

Nissan seems to be maintaining its original statement about the battery’s five-year retention, and said the cases in question were isolated and small compared to the number of units on the road. That’s certainly true, but it doesn’t change the fact that there seem to be owners feeling jilted over batteries with bad charing capacities.

Given the skepticism that already surrounds these vehicles, any question about quality seems like something the automaker would be wise to address quickly and quietly. If people were to start believing that Nissan sells EVs with unreliable batteries, it would hurt sales for the Leaf and probably EVs across the board.

Problems with cars like the Fisker Karma, and before that the Chevy Volt, started media fires quickly that weren’t easy to dismiss. Until now the Leaf has been comparatively problem free, but that could change depending on how vocal the bad battery victims are.

[Source: Green Car Reports]

  • tumblebug

    Liquid cooled batteries are better than the air cooled used by the Leaf.

  • Luc

    Arizona is probably the worst place in the US for air-cooled batteries. Ambient temperature is too high for the batteries for much of the year..

  • I had my doubts about the cheaper air cooled method several years ago before choosing my Volt…


  • “started media fires quickly that weren’t easy to dismiss. Until not the
    Leaf hadn’t been directly caught in any of those problems” 

    The actual fire WAS easy to dismiss, your point about the media having their collective hair on fire over nothing is valid. (The next sentence desperately needs an editor, at the very least a proof reader.)

    I expect Nissan will make all the wrong PR moves before settling on the solution, which could be as simple as publicly saying they will of course replace any batteries that don’t meet their warranty. Ideally they should aggressively push back with a much tighter specification on the capacity loss even though that would mean replacing more batteries in the end. Nip it in the bud, now. 

  • James

    I am a Phoenix Leaf owner who has now lost one bar of battery in only 10 months. The capacity of my battery is now below 80%, a number which was supposed to happen after year 5. I made the mistake of buying, not leasing the car, and therefore have little recourse besides watching my battery deteriorate with unfortunate rapidity, and with it, the value of the car.

    I, like many Arizona and Texas Leaf owners, have contacted Nissan about this problem, and so far their response has been completely lacking, telling me to park my car in the shade as much as possible. None of our trees here in Phoenix are air-conditioned, so the heat is stilll a problem, even in the shade.

    While I love our Leaf, I am not happy at all with Nissan’s response, and they can fully expect this to become a well-publicized issue if they don’t correct it soon, or at least start talking to their owners in an honest and open way.

  • Neither the Volt nor the Tesla, both with thermal management systems, can keep the batteries at anywhere near the optimum temperature to make for (relatively) small capacity losses (very low temps).  Current li ion technology simply prevents a practical electric car at this point in time. The battery costs alone are staggering when one attempts to provide a usable range. And then that range 
    and power are continuously being reduced over time, regardless of usage.

  • Shug13

    I bought the Leaf after researching and talking with the Nissan people at the 800- number and the dealership, explaining that I was looking for a cheaper alternative for my 62 mile round-trip commute to work here in Mississippi. I have had my Leaf now for 1 week, have yet to get it to drive longer than 50 miles and keep getting excuses about running the a/c, driving slow (I already explained I drive interstate to work and back before the purchase and that was fine) etc. so, basically, we’ve spent $3000 for a home charger, $43,000 for a car, $500 for a tag for a vehicle that will not even get me to work and back. Did I mention that when it is charged that it only shows 80 miles on a full charge and has been back to the dealership twice in one week to try to resolve this issue? I would never recommend this car to anyone. The sales pitch, sticker as well as the advertising on this car are downright deceptive. Very disappointed and would love to send it back!

  • Shug13

    Btw, I got the same foolishness from Nissan about climate. Nowhere…anywhere… did the sales pitch include “only buy this vehicle if you live in a mild climate”. Mississippi only has about 3 temperate months of the year. I didn’t spend that much money on a car so I could be sweating or freezing and creeping to work. If that was the case, I could have bought an electric golfcart for much, much less.

  • sonicbox

    Shug13, you may want to check out the LEAF range chart: The range estimator on the dash is a guess based on very recent driving efficiency and noting more… the chart is much more useful.

    I commute 85 miles a day in a LEAF, but I plug in at work for a few hours (simple 120V outlet).

  • Devote3

     Did you tell them that you would be driving 90mph the whole way?  I have 16,000 miles and drive 50 miles to work one way at 55-65mph easily.  I plug in to a simple 120v when I get to work.  One day I didnt plug the plug in all the way and didnt get charged up.  I made it almost back.  I was only short about 5 miles.  I had my wife meet me at a steak house for dinner and i plugged it in while we ate.  I easily made it home after.  The car behaves exactly how they told me it would.  depending on driving habits, miles should range between 60-120.  120 if you drove 30mph the whole way 🙂  But they told me that.  If you dont like it then just get rid of it.  Since you have one already, then the money shouldnt really be an issue.  Its not like people who cant afford them are buying them.  🙂  Just my two cents.  I have been wrong before and will be wrong in the future. Also, before you ask, I could only afford one Leaf and do not want to buy yours.  🙂

  • Bioburner2

    I too have a Nissan Leaf. We got the car from a dealer in texas, I live in Virginia, and I never got more than 55 miles on single charge. now after only 1500 miles my last full charge lasted 42 miles. With a ‘Dead” battery it only takes 3 hours to “fully” recharge instead of 7 as stated in the owners manual. The on board fuel economy says I’m getting 5.2 miles per kwh so the car is only utilizing half the battery charge. Have gone to the local dealer and complained and I told its the A/C and I’m driving to fast, your not using ECO mode. my god I’m getting almost twice the “Milage” as the EPA rating and I got less than half the Range I was promised when I bought the car. BTW I have lost NO bars on my battery meter.

  • Bioburner2

    Shug13. we have learned not to trust the milage left “Guess” meter. my dog can more accurately pridect the remaining miles with better accuracy than the OBC ( On Board Computer) My commute shopping and working total 50 miles a week(normally I bicycle to work) so I if I drive anywhere except to work or shopping I have to recharge before I hit 45 miles.
    I too feel like Nissan has lied to me to trick me into buying this car and would love to send it back and get my money back!!!!