shrink
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Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity Bar

Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:25 pm

So, I am one of the Phoenician LEAF owners who lost a capacity bar after 10-1/2 months and 10,200 miles. Here's my proof:

Image

I remember first reading the threads and being in flat out denial. We almost always charge to 80%, never start a charge with a SOC above 80%, low battery warning only twice, only 4 QC's, etc. We thought we followed proper care and when the Phoenix LEAF's kept falling I knew it was only a matter of time.

I bought the LEAF. I always buy cars and usually drive them until they are dead. I inherited an old Camry from my parents and drove that until 187K miles. I still have a 2003 Acura RSX with over 200K miles. I buy cars, pay them off in 3 years or less, and enjoy life without car payments until I'm ready for my next car.

Unfortunately, although I had enjoyed 10,000+ miles of gas free driving, I immediately regretted buying the LEAF. I kept thinking the worst. How much will this continue to degrade? Range anxiety returned - how far can I really go? Why is there no TMS? Will I be stuck with a solid car that is worthless because it needs an expensive new battery pack? Why didn't we lease? Etc., etc.

Well, after losing the bar I created my paper trail. I went to the dealer the next day and received the expected response. I filed a formal compliant with Nissan. I contemplated consumer protection actions, etc.

Most importantly, I talked to my girlfriend, who actually is the primary driver of the LEAF. I bike to work when it's not so damn hot in Phoenix so after buying the LEAF in August 2011, I let her drive it to work and she fell in love with the car. She was buying cars for gas mileage long before it was en vogue - even in the pre-Prius days. She has always hated gas stations, and since we have a PV solar system on the house, we took pride in making our own "fuel." I ended up buying a Volt about 2 months ago because she had essentially taken over the LEAF. While the Volt seems to fit my tastes much better, I still used the LEAF for longer in town drives because I did not want to use gas.

Financially, however, I remained very concerned. What would a LEAF with a missing capacity bar be worth and how much worse was this going to get in the Phoenix heat? I was intent on cutting my losses and determined to sell the car.

Then began the great debate at home. If that's what i was going to do, then what would we get next? I was pushing hard for a leasing a second Volt and even had a 2013 order ready to be placed. We also considered a used Prius as well as the Prius Plug-in again. We went back to the Lexus CT hybrid, which we had test driven before buying the Volt.

Well, to my surprise, it ended up being another LEAF - a 2012 on which we did a 24-month lease. My girlfriend loves the car that much and was so intent on remaining gas free, it was really the only option for her. FFE's are not yet available in Arizona and we don't like the MiEV. All of our other options would have required the use of more gas, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but she is apparently that dedicated to EV's. We could have waited for the 2013 LEAF, but it would have been a little more challenging to wait until the end of the year. I kept saying we will probably lose another capacity bar, maybe even 2 next year, and that it seems like we are making the same mistake and not solving anything. She acknowledged the risks and uncertainties and made the final decision. Her commute to work is 20-22 miles RT. She was adamant that a LEAF with reduced range in Phoenix would still meet her daily work commute needs, and that she could charge at work if necessary. She could also take the Volt for longer trips if the range is that diminished. At the end of our 2-year lease, we would simply give the car back to Nissan and see what's the latest and greatest in EV technology at that time.

So after a weekend of irritating negotiations, we found a 2012 LEAF with 5 miles on it and negotiated a price just below invoice with a free window tint thrown in. Now, Nissan dealers were offering lousy and I mean lousy trade-ins for my 2011 LEAF. The first place quoted me $21,000 for it. However, I did get an offer for $25,000 somewhere that was not a Nissan dealership and took it. It was a little more than what I owed on the car - and I still don't even have the $7500 tax credit back. I'm self-employed and filed an extension. Nonetheless, there was a little equity.

Funny thing is - after re-running the numbers from the 2011 purchase, the cost of selling the 2011 and 2-year leasing the 2012 came out to just about the same as leasing the 2011 for 3-years. I paid a premium for the 2011. It was an orphan with all the options, wait list, MSRP, blah, blah, blah. I even bought the extended warranty on the 2011 naively thinking it would give me protection with the new technology. So considering the premium paid for the 2011, and the deal negotiated for the 2012, it was almost a wash - and what we really should have done in the first place. We get benefits of EV driving for 3 years total without the battery responsibility. We have no intention of keeping this car at lease end.

I personally don't like making 3 years of car payments and having nothing at the end, but I'm keeping some capital (I still have $7500+ coming from the IRS) and plan on investing in some more rental property by the end of the year - buying an appreciating, rather than depreciating asset is usually a smart thing.

I know this won't work for everybody, but it seemed to be a good solution for us. I still support the other Phoenix LEAF owners who have lost a capacity bar early, especially those who bought. If there's any information I can provide to help support whatever efforts you take, please let me know.

So, it looks like our fallen LEAF has since regrown and we're still somehow a LEAF and Volt family.

Oh, and I'm having LEAFfan come over this weekend to take a ScanGauge/GID reading on this new 2012 LEAF in Phoenix. It'll be a good data point, I hope.

Good luck to everyone else facing similar concerns!
Last edited by shrink on Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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SanDust
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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:53 pm

Glad you worked it out. Leasing solves many issues! I'm surprised you only did a 24 month lease. You can BTW extend for six months assuming it's a Nissan lease.

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Boomer23
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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:35 am

Shrink, I have to say that this is one of the best written, calmest and most even handed descriptions of the handling of such a thorny issue that I've read on this forum. I'm glad that you resolved it in favor or staying a LEAF family.

This capacity issue is really concerning for a lot of owners, and it's clear from your story that much of the worry comes from the fact that we really don't know how these batteries will continue to age. All we have is the data from this current point in time, and it's natural for all of us to worry that things will continue to decline at the same rate from here out, and the effect on resale value is concerning. A lease really does take all of the worry out of the equation, especially if, like your gf, your commute distance isn't challenging. I also have to say that I admire her commitment to her energy use ideals.

I leased my 2011 LEAF for a lot of reasons. And I didn't care if my battery aged prematurely if I always charged to 100%. Now that it seems that I have perhaps a 5% capacity loss, I find that I do care, and I've started paying more attention to battery saving behaviors. Even with a lease, I'd like to be able to drive the car as far as possible on a charge when I need to until the lease is up in a couple of years.

I'm reminded that back in about 2009, Carlos Ghosn was talking seriously about selling the LEAF but only leasing the battery packs. Nissan finally decided that Americans and others wouldn't be open to that idea. It is sounding like a better idea all the time now.

Thanks for letting us in on your decision process in such detail. I'm sure it will be helpful.
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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:01 am

I would say unloading the car for $25K with one bar of battery capacity depleted was brilliant. In CA, a 2011 LEAF came to only about $23K brand new, after rebates. Or $25.5K without the CA rebate. $500 (plus sales tax and aggravation) for driving gas-free for 10K miles is a steal, IMHO. Well done!
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cwerdna
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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:05 am

Boomer23 wrote: I'm reminded that back in about 2009, Carlos Ghosn was talking seriously about selling the LEAF but only leasing the battery packs. Nissan finally decided that Americans and others wouldn't be open to that idea. It is sounding like a better idea all the time now.
Yes, Ghosn kept talking about leasing the battery packs and IIRC, it being the only option.

An EV enthusiast at Priuschat claimed (from http://priuschat.com/threads/nissan-lea ... st-1094194" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)
It turns out that this is an illegal practice... to sell a car that requires a leased part to make it work.
Curious... is this true for the US or an urban legend?

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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:49 am

Thanks for the update, shrink. It sounds like a good approach to take given that several LEAFs in Phoenix have now lost 2 bars.

It seems yours is the third report of a LEAF being traded due to battery capacity loss so far. LEAFfan reported in the "Lost a bar" thread that Skywagon traded his in on something else soon after losing a bar and djchrispaul in Palm Springs, CA traded his in after starting to get 9 bars after an 80% charge:
djchrispaul wrote:Originally I had purchase my leaf on a 6year finance, so as I was worried about being stuck with a low range purchased vehicle, I went to my Nissan dealer, Palm Springs Nissan and swapped out my purchased 2011 leaf for a new 2012 leased vehicle for the same payments, so now it's their problem if after 3 years the battery is degraded.
It is interesting that two of the three leases a LEAF after their trade-in. I think that shows that people sincerely like this car.

Enjoy your new LEAF!
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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:57 am

I am thinking the same thing but was hoping to hold off until the 2013 model came out. I'll likely be down at least two bars by then but I truly do believe Nissan will eventually address this issue. Have you taken a gid count on your new vehicle yet?

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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:33 am

Ya know, one of the big questions I have with people freaking out over 1 bar loss is that they seem to be making the assumption that "bar loss" will be linear over time. This is NOT proven (how can it be) and far from a given. Just like the first bar of two of SOC sometimes drop more rapidly at first, so might the battery loss. You might lose one or two capacity bars early on and then next to nothing after that. Who knows!

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mwalsh
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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:45 am

GeekEV wrote:Ya know, one of the big questions I have with people freaking out over 1 bar loss is that they seem to be making the assumption that "bar loss" will be linear over time. This is NOT proven (how can it be) and far from a given. Just like the first bar of two of SOC sometimes drop more rapidly at first, so might the battery loss. You might lose one or two capacity bars early on and then next to nothing after that. Who knows!
Precisely. It is too early to be freaking out. It's a concern, yes. And a bit of a gamble at this point too. But we really do have to wait and see what happens beyond the losses already seen.

So by all means start documenting (I know I have, even though I'm not down a bar...yet) and make a formal complaint to Nissan if you want to be sure your anxiety over the situation has been registered appropriately. But let's not run around flailing our arms wildly and screaming...yet.
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shrink
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Re: Turning Over a New LEAF: My Response to a Lost Capacity

Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:09 pm

mwalsh wrote:
GeekEV wrote:Ya know, one of the big questions I have with people freaking out over 1 bar loss is that they seem to be making the assumption that "bar loss" will be linear over time. This is NOT proven (how can it be) and far from a given. Just like the first bar of two of SOC sometimes drop more rapidly at first, so might the battery loss. You might lose one or two capacity bars early on and then next to nothing after that. Who knows!
Precisely. It is too early to be freaking out. It's a concern, yes. And a bit of a gamble at this point too. But we really do have to wait and see what happens beyond the losses already seen.

So by all means start documenting (I know I have, even though I'm not down a bar...yet) and make a formal complaint to Nissan if you want to be sure your anxiety over the situation has been registered appropriately. But let's not run around flailing our arms wildly and screaming...yet.
I don't disagree with you guys. My thread was not meant to incite paranoia or panic, but to describe my reasoning and my decision. I trust others will feel and act differently. I just think that those who bought rather than leased are in a pretty difficult spot. There are too many uncertainties about the rate and extent of capacity loss, cost of replacement, and Nissan response, if any.

I just chose to hedge my bets and sell, but I think it says a lot about the car that we leased another one.

I do hope Nissan takes care of affected owners. If they do, I will miss out and I'm okay with that. That consideration was certainly part of the decision. But at this point, with the available information, I am comfortable and happy with my choice. In fact, I drove the new LEAF to work today. ;)

But for everybody, I do hope mwalsh and GeekEV are correct and that they battery loss does level out and most of us have the "expected" 80% after 5 years.
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