Let me preface this post by saying that I think the LEAF is any outstanding automobile and a remarkable piece of engineering. We love out LEAF and we expect to get many, many trouble-free years out it! My comments below are all intended to help the LEAF to maintain the excellent image that Nissan has managed to build for that car.
Several LEAF owners in and around Phoenix have reported that their LEAF has removed a segment from the dashboard display indicating that 15% of their battery capacity is now gone after approximately one year of ownership
. The charging and driving behavior of these individuals appears to vary from extremely harsh (frequent 100% charging and full-throttle acceleration) to extremely gentle (rarely charge to 100% and high-efficiency driving). But the result is the same: their LEAF battery capacity is now less than 85% of what it was when they purchased the car. Unfortunately, to my knowledge Nissan has not communicated to anyone that it was possible to lose 15% of the battery capacity within the first year of ownership.
This situation is CLEARLY not covered by Nissan's Li-ion battery warranty, as they expressly do not warranty capacity of the LEAF battery. One could argue that LEAF owners should simply drive until the battery will no longer properly propel the car and then have Nissan replace it under warranty. Unfortunately, that is not workable for many as the range of the car will likely get too low to fulfill the car's intended mission.
So what should be done about this? I feel that Nissan should take the financial risk for all of the LEAFs sold into areas where the climate is hotter than some set of criteria that only they can determine based on this first year of data they have collected on the LEAF. They can do this by offering (not forcing) to buy back all of the LEAFs in the affected areas and allow their customers to retain the cars by instead signing a lease agreement for two more years. Nissan should also stop selling LEAFs in the affected areas and instead should only offer leases until more data can be gathered and Nissan can clearly communicate to prospective buyers what the experience has been from several years of actual experience in that area.
This might sound like a drastic step, but I feel that the reputation of the LEAF, of Nissan, and of EVs in general may be irreparably tarnished if this issue is not immediately addressed. I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong about the magnitude of this issue, but the experience of LEAF owners in Phoenix is so far from what I consider to be reasonable expectations that I feel Nissan must address it now.
Edit: Desensationalized title.
[MOD NOTE: Tweaked title after thread merge -drees]