Nissan buys back two Leaf's under Arizona Lemon Law
Following increasing news coverage of battery capacity loss in Phoenix-area Nissan Leaf's, word now comes that Nissan has offered to a Leaf buy back from Phoenix-area residents. Some Leaf owners, primarily in hot climates, claim the driving range of their cars has diminished more rapidly than Nissan has suggested would happen. After months of discussion on discussion forums, a large scale test by Leaf owners in Phoenix two weeks ago, an open letter published by Nissan in June, another open letter published by Nissan last week, and the establishment of an independent advisory board to be led by electric vehicle activist Chelsea Sexton, a Phoenix-area TV station has shown an interview with two Phoenix-area Leaf owners describing their ordeal and the buyback agreement, under lemon laws, with Nissan.
The issue is that Nissan's promise was the Nissan Leaf would have "80% remaining capacity after 5 years", which would lead a Leaf owner to expect their car to have a 58.4 mile driving range after 5 years of ownership. However, many Nissan Leaf owners have reported a steeper than expected loss of driving range.
Andrea Convey says the Leaf owned by her and her husband is being bought back by Nissan under the terms of the Arizona Lemon Law. Her husband, Mason Convey, went on to say he was not sure whether this is the beginning of an admission by Nissan that there is an issue, or whether Nissan is trying to keep a few people quiet. Scott Yarosh says he had to get rid of it when his Leaf would no longer handle his 45 mile one-way commute, after only 15 months. Yarosh told KPHO, "when I turned my car in, I could only get 42 miles on a single charge." Upon turning in his car early he was hit with $700 in early lease termination fees, which Nissan refunded in full a week later. Yarosh suggested "I think they're trying to get me to shut up."
The KPHO report concluded with a statement from an unnamed source inside Nissan that the company is considering stopping Leaf sales in Arizona due to the problems.
The basic problem is that some Nissan Leaf owners (or lease holders) are suffering from range degradation, and battery capacity loss, at a faster rate than is implied by "80% remaining capacity after 5 years." While the biggest problems are seen by Leaf owners in hot climates, like Phoenix, others who live in mild climates are having similar issues. The problems are being compounded by statements from Nissan over the last few months, as well as details of the Leaf battery warranty.
In a video recorded by Nissan's Mark Perry, it was made clear that the Nissan battery pack warranty does not cover loss of battery capacity, but does cover power output. He explained that the basic framework of the warranty as "Is the battery putting out enough power," so that the battery gives enough acceleration so you can safely drive on the road. Perry explicitly said that battery pack capacity is not covered in the warranty. This means that Leaf owners with high range degradation are not covered by the warranty.
He went on to explain that while heat can reduce battery pack lifetime, it is heat in the range of 130-140F or more is definitely not good for batteries, without recognizing that some places like Phoenix can get to that temperature especially when you factor in the heat amplification effect of a black asphalt parking lot. However, in an August web chat Mark Perry said "We've also been very transparent in making sure people know that battery capacity will degrade in very high heat – for instance, if the cars sit out in 110-degree heat for five hours a day." This should cause one to scratch their head a bit, because if the temperature range of concern is 130-140F then why does Perry now warn about a 110F temperature? Wouldn't it be normal for a Leaf owner to drive to work, park in the parking lot all day, then drive home? In Phoenix 110F days are as common as cupcakes.