Holy Poop! EV ownership gone horribly wrong for Leaf owner...

Holy Poop! EV ownership gone horribly wrong for Leaf owner...

So I've been researching EVs online and stumbled upon a post made by a Nissan Leaf owner...sheesh. I'm looking forward to ordering a Model X in a year, but was researching the 1/3 priced Leaf. There is an issue with Leaf batteries in some vehicles, especially in hot areas. The Leaf battery is not thermally protected, not warranted and the range of the vehicle can be adversely affected in hot locations.

Here is the post made by the Leaf owner who is only getting 30 miles of range while living in Chicago: "So six months into being an EV driver, I hate this technology and am shopping for a gas guzzler for the first time in my life." Remember that Nissan does NOT warranty their batteries.

That post does two things for me: 1) convinces me that regardless of price, any EV with non-replaceable batteries is a risk, and 2) only Tesla has solved the battery degradation problem by having replaceable cells.

I am a businessman and always look at alternatives and the true cost of an object, especially suspicious of cutting-edge technology. I was going to agree with a post on the Model S that made a good case that a $100K EV car is not economically viable. On pure cost, it probably isn't. HOWEVER, the Leaf owner's experience proves an important point: if you go electric, there is no other car than Tesla. Some Leaf owners will have a $30K paperweight in their driveways with no recourse. I was also looking to prove that buying two Leafs (one after the other) was a good alternative to a $100K Tesla...but that's not true, either. The Leaf battery is part of the frame, not meant to be replaced. That means that once the battery degrades to a marginal range, the utility of the vehicle is effectively zero. Even a zero-book-value 1975 Dodge Omni has value: it can still move it's passengers hundreds of miles a day.

So my conclusion is this, and doesn't change my desire for a Tesla: you won't save enough $ in fuel and maintenance over an ICE to pay for a $100K Tesla, you just won't. For pure low-cost transportation, get a Scion IQ and be done with it. If, however, you want the best car Consumer Reports has ever tested and want a vehicle that can outlive any one battery pack, Tesla is your only option. The 3X price difference is easily justified in that you have an unlimited life vehicle. A 1/3 priced car that's unsalable and maybe unusable is no value. Please, no flames from any Leaf owners, I mean no insult. All I'm saying is that my research tells me that a Tesla is worth every penny, even at $100K.

CalDreamin | 21 juli 2013

While I applaud Nissan for their investment in EVs, I wish they hadn't used an air-cooled battery in the Leaf. Tesla and just about everybody else use a liquid-cooled battery for their EVs.

Bottom line, the battery in the Nissan Leaf suffers some thermal degradation at higher temperatures, and the Plug in America survey demonstrated that.

The Plug in America survey for the Tesla Roadster (liquid-cooled battery) found no effect of temperature on battery life.

I'm surprised that a Leaf battery in Chicago would suffer significant thermal degradation. Leaf range deterioration to just 30 miles in only 6 months sounds like some other problem. The Leaf has a warranty for battery capacity loss, which kicks in at something like 30% capacity loss in 5 years / 60K miles. Sounds like this Chicago Leaf owner might be able to make a warranty claim.

ian | 21 juli 2013

@Panoz - Your conclusion is flawed in that you're comparing the Model S to cars that are not in the same class. Who shops Honda Accords and top of the line BMW 5's, 7's, Mercedes S class, Audi A7's, A8's and Porsche Panamera's?

While it may be true that MANY Model S buyers have spent 2, 3 and 4 times what they normally would they are the exceptions. You need to stop comparing apples to kumquats. ;-)


Alex K | 22 juli 2013

@Panoz | JULY 21, 2013: Remember that Nissan does NOT warranty their batteries.

Not True. From

Lithium-ion Battery Gradual Capacity Loss:
In addition to the Lithium-ion Battery Coverage for defects in materials or workmanship (96 months/100,000 miles), the Nissan LEAF® Lithium-ion battery is also warranted against capacity loss below nine bars of capacity as shown on the vehicle’s battery capacity level gauge for a period of 60 months or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Jolinar | 22 juli 2013

When Nissan introduced Leaf they did not warrant battery degradation, but they started to warrant it after that media buzz with Leaf battery capacity loss in hot weather.

From what I know, Nissan is the only one manufacturer of EVs who guarantees battery degradation won't go below some limit in some time and miles.

Panoz | 22 juli 2013

Actually, it's isn't apples to oranges. You must admit that many Tesla owners grasp at any strraw they can to justify a $100K car to save fuel, save the environment, etc.. The savings on maintenance and fuel defrays the cost of the car, but in no way justifies that kind of capital layout for fuel savings. No business would invest in Teslas when an ICE vehicle was available due to range issues and cost. I'm definitely working on owning a Tesla, but I won't be saying that it pays for itself because it won't by any financial stretch. I want a Tesla because I want a Tesla, not for economic reasons.

And yes, any Nissan warranty on the batteries is a result of the late issues with their batteries. They didn't warrant them at first. I certainly hope they fix the issue, because the post from that Leaf owner is a KILLER with new technologies. Even if you state his experience is an anomoly, the fact that Nissan (corporate OR dealership) cannot or will not fix it is the crux of the matter. If a Tesla owner posted the same thing, it would certainly scare of many a purchaser. Just for PR alone Nissan should test his car, give him a new loaner and tell him honestly what the issue is. Oh and the dealership in one case with a Leaf owner was quoting more mileage on a charge than Nissan was - if true, it's typical of dealerships exaggerating the benefits of their stock to sell the vehicle. Let's hope Tesla doesn't do that.

stevenmaifert | 22 juli 2013

The post is BS! Nissan, like all manufacturers of new technology EVs, is still learning about the reliability and longevity of their batteries. They collect data via Leaf telematics, just like Tesla. Of the thousands of Leafs in service worldwide, there were only 5-6 in Arizona that suffered battery degradation due to operation (charging and driving) in the extreme heat. Nissan made it right with those owners and now warrants every Leaf owners battery against capacity loss. They learned and made changes in good faith with their Leaf customers.

@Panoz - can you provide a link to the post you read?

wcreeden | 22 juli 2013

I too studied the Leaf. They did a good job getting some chargers placed around. When the Volt came out I looked at that too. Both had problems with me. Range, use of gas engine, ect. They were a $30-$40,000 car. I drove a Prius, almost the same price. The Prius is a great car, but not what I really wanted for my next car.
When I first heard of the Tesla, it sounded just right. When I saw one I knew.
Cost, does any car pay for itself? Not unless your a Taxi driver.What I want is reliable,well built,confortable,good looking car.
Range,would the range suite my lifestyle. I checked what I drove my Prius each day. Came out to 50 mi.a day. What if I wanted to take a trip. We needed the SC installed.
I got my Model S in March.
This week I can now go from Vancouver CA to Portland with two 20 minute free charges. I know its a risk because its new,costly and much depends on the future which I cannot predict.
I have owned many cars in my 76 years, this is the best so far.

Brian H | 22 juli 2013

Nissan tried to mash the Leaf into an existing market segment/niche. Tesla invented its own. Tesla wins, game, set, match.

cloroxbb | 22 juli 2013

Panoz taught me a new word today - "defray."

Learning is fun :)

GeekEV | 22 juli 2013

Nissan's choice not to have temperature management might be just fine for a wide variety of US climates, but clearly not all. If the rationale was to keep costs down (and it was), they should have made a "hot weather" package to complement their "cold weather" package and provided adequate education about which markets needed it and which didn't. Tesla's advantage comes from working the top down - they can afford to make technology driven decisions rather than cost driven ones. All the while building up the brand reputation for quality.

Timo | 22 juli 2013

@Panoz . You must admit that many Tesla owners grasp at any strraw they can to justify a $100K car to save fuel, save the environment, etc..

Actually if some of that is going around it is to give an excuse to spouse to buy a car. Real reason Tesla buyers buy the car is because it is d*mn fun car to have. It is better than its ICE competition in almost all possible categories. You don't need any "straws" to grasp in order to justify buying it if you just have the money to buy it.