Nissan Leaf owners stage massive test to prove battery aging case
During the heat of summer, Leaf owners in hot climates - specifically in Arizona - began complaining that their cars were no longer retaining their 12 battery bars and instead were only allowing charge to 10 or 11 of them. Nissan says the Leaf's batteries are good for at least 7 years at up to 80% capacity, but at losses like these owners were seeing, that would mean far worse than that and in much less time.
Soon after the reports began proliferating both online and through dealership complaints, Nissan issued a statement saying they'd be investigating the issue and would make things right. So far, no further substantial information has been given by Nissan despite having called many of the affected owners into dealerships to do full diagnostic computer and systems downloads from their cars.
Tired of waiting and discouraged by statements in the media from Nissan representatives suggesting that the Nissan Leaf's batteries are "just fine," Leaf owners in Arizona and surrounds banded together to prove them wrong and show that there is, indeed, a serious problem that requires attention.
Twelve Leaf owners assembled in the evening at a parking lot in Arizona, lead by the infamous Tony Williams (who did a Canada to Mexico Leaf EV drive). Odometer readings from their cars ranged from 2,500 miles up to 29,000 miles. The location in Tempe, Arizona was chosen because it offers two J1772-2009 EVSE charging stations and a DC Chademo fast charger. This allowed the participants to easily recharge their cars before and after testing.
All vehicles assembled were fully charged and sent, one by one, out onto the streets of Tempe to drive a mapped route until their batteries literally ran out of juice. Because the driving was at night, free access to the chargers plus easy access to supporting fleets (a tow truck and some electric dollies) for retrieving the discharged vehicles was had. Measurements of total charge, expected range, and final ranges were all taken. Many of those involved are engineers.
The newest of the cars, those with the lowest mileage, lasted about 80 miles on average. Older cars, however, and those claimed to have suffered battery degradation were doing far less than that with one only getting 59.3 miles out of a full charge.
Full details and complete findings from the tests have been compiled and posted to InsideEVs.com. Their case is well-proven and should put Nissan on notice.
One of the biggest engineering flaws in the Leaf, some in the industry have pointed out, is the lack of thermal management for the batteries. In temperature extremes, this could easily lead to the kinds of problems these Leaf owners in Arizona and now California are experiencing.