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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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RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By toffty on 7/19/2012 2:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
It is the time actually; just not mature enough for very hot climates like Arizona.

It's heat that kills the battery. Here in Colorado the climate's perfect for battery cars and there's no fear of the engine not starting with an electric in really cold weather =D


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By Spuke on 7/19/2012 2:57:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It is the time actually; just not mature enough for very hot climates like Arizona.
LOL! You just contradicted yourself. If EV's can't handle hot climates like present gas cars can easily, then they're NOT ready.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By toffty on 7/19/2012 3:32:31 PM , Rating: 1
No contradiction at all.

How 'bout in Alaska. Gas cars don't start all the time in the winter when the oil in the engine freezes. Not the case with electric cars. So ICE vehicles are NOT ready following your logic.


By Pneumothorax on 7/19/2012 5:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
by toffty on July 19, 2012 at 3:32 PM

No contradiction at all.

How 'bout in Alaska. Gas cars don't start all the time in the winter when the oil in the engine freezes. Not the case with electric cars . So ICE vehicles are NOT ready following your logic.


Battery total capacity goes to hell in the cold lol.

Most of the smart people up there have engine block heaters or heated garages so no cracked blocks or sludged oil. Advantage of ICE is just as long you don't take too long at your destination, your engine will stay warm for quite some time, or better yet you can keep it running WITH THE HEAT ON. Try driving a leaf at sub zero weather with the heater on and we'll see how many of the 100 miles you'll get.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By Spuke on 7/19/2012 6:12:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, how bout in Alaska where EV's range to severely reduced to being almost non-functioning. Sure you can start them but they can't go anywhere. BTW, not just oil freezes and there's these things called block heaters that keep gas cars fluids warm. You do know that people in cold climates have been driving gas cars for decades, right? That problem has already been solved. Has anyone solved the reduction of capacity of batteries? Didn't think so. Not ready for prime time and, YES, you DID contradict yourself.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By mcnabney on 7/20/2012 9:56:39 AM , Rating: 2
Modern EV batteries have sophisticated temperature controls when NOT running, so cold isn't an issue.


By Dr of crap on 7/20/2012 10:19:48 AM , Rating: 2
So when it's -30°F the sophistcated system that keeps the battery warm is powered by ------??
Yep that's right it powered by itself, again reducing the range that it can get in extreme cold!


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By Alexvrb on 7/20/2012 1:32:06 AM , Rating: 2
Engine oil doesn't freeze at Alaskan temps, but it does get thicker. They don't use parrafin wax in motor oils anymore, modern oils are really outstanding. Besides, if you live in a cold climate, you're going to be using something like fully synthetic 0w oil (such as 0w20, 0w30, 0w40 depending on desired viscosity once at operating temp). This makes for much easier starts in cold climates, combined with a strong battery and good starter motor.

Modern gasoline engines do just fine, really. Don't even usually need a block heater for a gas motor, unless you're impatient and don't want to let it idle for a bit. Diesels have a bit more of an issue, because the fuel itself can gel/crystalize. But properly blended winter diesel fuel is pretty good, and if it isn't sufficient there are additives/treatments, and there's always heaters.

But if you think that's bad... you have no idea how crappy the performance of the battery pack in the Leaf would be in really cold temperatures. Others have already pointed that out though. Even better EVs and Hybrids with superior battery cooling/heating systems would still have to waste some power regulating the battery temp (in this case, heating it and keeping it warm). So it's not all roses for EVs, either.


By Bad-Karma on 7/20/2012 3:21:43 AM , Rating: 2
Back in the early 90s' we took our EC-130Hs up to Eielson AFB to teach our crews and maintenance guys how to keep the birds flying under extreme cold weather conditions. At the time it was well below -30F with the windchill.

Always remember seeing a maintenance guy stationed there striking this black rod about 3" round and a couple off feet long on the pavement. Little chips would break off and he'd gather them up in an old coffee can. Then he places it over on the exhaust manifold of a Aircraft start cart. We asked him what he was doing and was floored when he replied; "Thawing out some axle grease!"

Later on they even demonstrated how a heavy piece of steel became brittle from the cold. Guy struck it with a mallet and the thing fractured almost like glass.

I know this isn't quite on the tread subject but just wanted to add to your post that there are a lot of other factors to keep machinery running in the extreme environments. But even down here in the lower 48 weather can get down below -50F in places like Yellowstone.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By kmmatney on 7/19/2012 3:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in Centennial CO, and it's been pretty damn hot the last few weeks... can't say I could ever buy a leaf, at least not as my only car. I need something that can take me to the mountains and back at the very least.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By toffty on 7/19/2012 3:38:14 PM , Rating: 1
I agree it has been hot but unlike Az, it's not 100 degrees for 8-10 hours, only for about an hour or 2. 100 degrees isn't even where the damage to the battery starts; it's at about 110-115.

Colorado's a perfect climate for air-cooled EVs.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By Vidmo on 7/19/2012 3:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's heat that kills the battery. Here in Colorado the climate's perfect for battery cars and there's no fear of the engine not starting with an electric in really cold weather =D


When was the last time you could not get your car started in the cold and what was the root cause?

HINT: The battery.

Good luck with that Leaf in the 100+ temps CO has had this summer along with the raging cold it will see this winter. I predict your Leaf battery won't make it to see 2014.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By toffty on 7/19/2012 3:29:29 PM , Rating: 1
Yes it can get those extremes but not for extended periods of time. Also if the battery does 'die' in 2 years it's still under warrenty.

For your information as well: The battery is made up of 20 or so cells. It'll usually be a cell that goes bad (not the entire battery) so it's not as costly (~$500)


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By Spuke on 7/19/2012 6:18:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For your information as well: The battery is made up of 20 or so cells. It'll usually be a cell that goes bad (not the entire battery) so it's not as costly (~$500)
For your information, they don't replace the cells, they replace the entire pack and only when you experience a certain amount of capacity reduction.


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By toffty on 7/19/2012 3:35:22 PM , Rating: 2
I'll also address your comment about not starting in cold weather. I've seen plenty of ICE vehicles unable to start where I work due to frozen oil in the engine. No chance of that with an electric car. The battery, while it doesn't hold as much in cold weather, has no problem providing the energy needed ;)


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By Vidmo on 7/19/2012 3:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
Wow didn't know you worked in -30F temps. You must work in Gunnison.


By Dr of crap on 7/20/2012 8:23:58 AM , Rating: 3
OK, so the battery powered car is able to "start" for lack of a better term. And you can drive all of what 5, 10 miles at -30°F. Yea then your precious Leaf is standed.
AND here's the best. I've heard you can't tow these things. Anybode else heard that?

So now you have to pay to get it put on a trailer and huled to get it recharged so that you can WAIT FOR SPRING WEATHER to use it - HA!


RE: One Day They'll Get it Right...
By Arsynic on 7/19/2012 3:08:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's not the time because you shouldn't have to think about climate when purchasing a car. What if you move from NY to Arizona. Do you have to trade in your car?


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