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The problem is likely Nissan's air cooling system used for the Leaf's battery

The Nissan Leaf is a top player in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, but one major issue that sometimes plagues these vehicles is the battery -- and the Leaf's battey seems to be taking a lot of heat.

Leaf owners in Arizona have recently complained that their EVs are losing significant capacity in the desert's hot heat. In fact, Arizona Leaf drivers Scott Yarosh and Mason Convey have both testified to this claim.

"When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work on a single charge, approximately 90 miles round trip," said Yarosh. "[Now] I can drive approximately 44 miles on this without having to stop and charge."

Both owners said they've lost about 30 percent of their battery capacity since purchasing their vehicles. Even when their batteries are fully charged, two to three of the 12 lights on their battery capacity gauge are out.

Both owners are very meticulous about how they care for their Leafs. There is absolutely no sign of abuse, as both were able to produce dealership service records with high marks.

"We want to learn more about what's going on, but it's something we've just been made aware of, and we don't have any conclusions yet," said Perry.

The problem is likely Nissan's air cooling system used for the Leaf's battery. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even predicted that Nissan's cooling system would fail the Leaf at some point back in August of 2010.

Musk said that Nissan's Leaf employed a cheaper air cooling system that would make its battery temperatures jump "all over the place," where cold temperatures would degrade the battery while hot temperatures would shut it down. Tesla, on the other hand, uses a high-end liquid heating/cooling thermal management solution.

But for those who are still avid Leaf fans, there's great news if you live in California or Washington. Dealerships in these two states are cutting about $5,000 off the price tag for a new 2012 Nissan Leaf. The MSRP is usually $37,250, but with the $7,500 federal tax credit, the $2,500 California clean-vehicle purchase rebate, and now the additional $5,000 off, the price for a brand-new 2012 Leaf is only about $23,000.

Sources: CBS 5, Green Car Reports

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*chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By jharper12 on 7/19/2012 12:39:27 PM , Rating: 4
So... where are all of the people who touted the Leaf's cooling system as being superior to the liquid heated and cooled system in the Volt?


Good, use this time to reflect on how you can shift from a Nissan Leaf fan to a Chevy Volt fan. Called this years ago with Elon, and it feels good.

RE: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By Jedi2155 on 7/19/2012 12:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
It was a huge reason why I did not go with a Leaf (not to mention the range). Volt with its HVAC controlled battery FTW.

RE: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By Keeir on 7/19/2012 2:44:02 PM , Rating: 3
But the liquid coolant system in the Volt, if in a major accident and the coolant and battery are not drained properly could lead to a fire after a few weeks!

I don't think anyone familiar with Lithium Ion batteries considered the lack of a proper thermal management system as a good idea.

Nissan has had to add a heater and insulation for cold temps, and now it appears something to fix the heat problem.

For clarity, Arizona may have the problem first (within 1 year!), but if you live anywhere the Temps get above 95 on a regular basis, you will experience faster battery degradation.

RE: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By jmarchel on 7/21/2012 9:40:32 AM , Rating: 2
In a major accident car is totaled anyway. Insurance will know to drain the battery since they own the wreck.

RE: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By toffty on 7/19/2012 2:54:39 PM , Rating: 3
I don't need that ICE though and would rather not pay for it.

I have a Leaf now and my mom, who's older now, is looking forward to buying it from me in a few years - she only drives around town. At that point it'll be interesting to see what BEV (battery electric vehicle (aka no ICE)) vehicles will be available:

BMW i3
Tesla S, X,, BluStar
Nissan Leaf
Infiniti LE
Ford Focus, C-Max Energi
Mitsubishi iMiev

In the above list only the Leaf and, i beleive, the iMiev are air-cooled battery. They rest are liquid cooled which would help in hotter climates. Here in Colorado, all are equally feasable.

RE: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By Keeir on 7/19/2012 8:54:13 PM , Rating: 2

While the Leaf's battery may hold up significantly better in less hot regions, it's important to remember the real problem reported here is that the Leaf's battery is losing more than -15%- of its rated capacity in under a year of use.

If the same trend continues for these regions, the Battery pack would have less than 50% of its capacity left after 5 years and only 27% at the end of 8 years.

The other regions (Outside Arizona, Texas, etc), while not having significant numbers of capacity loss report yet, might be experiencing capacity loss faster than expected. Since the Leaf doesn't indicate the capacity loss until it hits 15% you as an owner would not know for sure unless you carefully track daily mileage predictions versus energy expenditure.

Nissan predicted a linear adjusted loss rate of ~5% per year. You may be losing 8% per year and not be informed for 2+ years, but the difference between 5% per year and 8% per year is fairly significant. In the 5% per year senario it takes 8 years to pass a 50 mile range. At 8%, you pass the 50 mile range at 5 years.

All in all, I would be very concerned if I was a Leaf owner. 15%+ is a very significant loss and creates reasonable concern that any higher temperatures/low temperate situations will result in faster degradation than the 5% predicted by Nissan.

RE: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By Keeir on 7/19/2012 8:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
RE: *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*
By Dr of crap on 7/20/2012 8:35:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, the Chevy Volt - those are just flying off the lots - EVERYONE wants one - NOT!

These things are in the early stages, and they do not "replace" the ICE car. There are some who can use them. And if you can afford the Volt go ahead and try it. These EV, hybrids, at the time, cannot replace the reliable ICE for a MOST drivers.

If they work for you - good, go ahead and get them - but PLEASE to do try and force them on us!!!!

And for those of you that sprew info on extreme cold not knowing what that cold is like, please stop!
I live whre it gets -30°F and crazy things can happen. Unless you have experienced that cold for yourself, do not try and tell me what can heppen. I can tell you cars do not start because of reduced capicity of the batteries power at that temp. I have had it happen to me. Now what do you think will happen with a car that ONLY moves by battery power??

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