If the new battery cells go into production, they should be available by April 2014

Nissan is testing a new battery design for its all-electric Leaf, and owners that live in extreme climates -- like those in Arizona -- hope it can hold out in the southwestern heat. 

Nissan executives recently met with 10 Leaf owners in Phoenix for a meeting regarding new technologies to make their lives easier. In attendance (other than the 10 Leaf owners) was Andy Palmer, the company's chief global marketing officer; Billy Hayes, Nissan's vice president for global electric-car sales, and communications staff Jeff Kuhlman and Brian Brockman.

The meeting revealed that Nissan is currently testing a new Leaf battery with a different lithium-ion cell chemistry. The tests are putting the batteries in sustained internal temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). 

According to Hayes, the capacity degradation at the higher temperatures is no different than that found in many Leaf batteries operated in more temperate climates. He added that the test temperature is much higher than that reached by batteries in more temperate markets.

If the batteries' cells see a lack of degradation through the process, they will become the new replacement for current Leaf batteries under warranty for loss of capacity. However, it hasn't been decided if the battery would be fitted to all new Leafs. 

2013 Nissan Leaf

Nissan has only replaced 22 batteries for capacity loss in extremely hot temperatures, which represents less than 0.1 percent of the 31,200 Leafs sold in the U.S. through July 2013. 

If the new battery cells go into production, they should be available by April 2014. Before that time, Nissan said it plans to offer coupons to owners who have a battery pack replaced. 

Nissan has seen a surge in Leaf sales this year, and updating its battery design can only help its cause. In July, it was reported that Nissan is now selling approximately 2,000 Leaf electric vehicles each month (about four times the volume it was selling about a year ago). To meet this new demand, Nissan is slowly ramping up production of the Leaf at its manufacturing facility in Tennessee.

In July 2012, Leaf owners in Arizona complained that their EVs were losing significant capacity in the desert's hot heat. Two separate owners -- Scott Yarosh and Mason Convey -- said they 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 were out.

Source: Green Car Reports

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