Nissan LEAF Battery Warranty Update

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Shortly after Chevrolet announced that the Volt would come with a battery warranty of 8 years, 100,000 miles, Nissan followed suit saying also would offer 8/100 coverage themselves. 

So when GM detailed just how their warranty would work in practice (which was basically that  the pack was covered to not lose anymore than 10%-30% of its total capacity0depending on the age/mileage of the vehicle), we wondered if Nissan would offer something similar in the LEAF.

During a seemingly innocuous interview with Autoblog Green late last week, Mark Perry, who is Nissan’s Director of Product Planning, seems to have given us the answer.  And unfortunately, the answer is no, it does not work the same:

“The warranty is not related to battery capacity. The warranty is related to motor output. So if the battery has degraded to a point where the motor can’t get enough power from the battery, then it’s a warrantable event. But if someone abuses the battery – parks it outside in 140 degrees and all that – and they have 60 percent capacity after eight years, that’s on them. They abused it.”  (As FYI, the LEAF has a expected retained capacity of 70%-80% at the 8 year mark)

And that is it…no further explanation given.  From the sounds of that, you could theoretically have a LEAF that is only getting 50 miles range in year two, but if you took it to Nissan to say there was a problem, they basically test the car to see if the battery can still operate the motor at optimal performance for those 50 miles, and if it does, you are out of luck.  /ouch

LEAF Battery Modules Get Moved Into Place In Oppama, Japan

Now to be fair, sometimes quotes get twisted, or misinterpreted.  Curiously, the title of this Autoblog story was not about the warranty at all…it was simply entitled “2011 Nissan Leaf – Some things you probably didn’t know.”  

Generally when news of this magnitude turns up that really doesn’t pass the ‘common sense’ test, we like to inquire about its validity before going to press…to avoid disseminating misinformation.    And most every time there is some return clarification that a mistake has been made along the way.  This time, we were met with no comments/no explanations.  Silence.  So does this mean the report is accurate?  Maybe.   Or it could mean that Nissan has not yet fully decided/articulated the warranty?  Again, who knows.  However, December deliveries are coming fast and consumers need to know to be able to make a informed purchase.

The only specific information was had heard previously from Nissan was that they “… plan on providing a warranty coverage suitable for a major component of an automobile,” and that seems to still be inline with Mark Perry’s latest quote on battery warranty.   Namely, if it is broke, we will fix it.  If it functions, we won’t.

Until we hear otherwise, our suggestion is to treat your LEAFs with a lot of care.  As for Nissan’s suggestion to not park it outside when it is really, really hot, because that is abuse…we beg to differ with their definition of abuse. (I’m glad I don’t live in Phoenix).  

For myself personally, if this report is indeed confirmed accurate, Nissan has just converted my purchase into a lease.   /and I will not guarantee the range when I turn it in either

(Original quote – ABG)

51 Responses

  1. yoyo says:

    Since Leaf battery is larger, the same driver will discharge the Leaf battery a lot less than a Volt battery on the same commute. This will hopefully translate to a longer battery life (a big maybe).

    For example, my commute is 20 miles each way, so I expect to use about 40% of the 24 kwh Leaf battery each day. If I bought a Volt, I’ll use 100% of the 40% DoD Volt battery, which means I’ll discharge the Volt battery 60% each day. If I can convince my workplace to install a charger, then I’ll only draw down 20% of the battery each day and extend the life.

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  2. Stan Stein says:

    Wow!!!! This is a show stopper. Nissan needs to clarify quickly!! I still have confidence that Nissan will do the “right” thing. Continued silence would be a huge mistake.

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  3. Unlimited_MPG says:

    How much you wanna bet that the Nissan’s Director of Product Planning didn’t get the “memo” right and now Nissan will have to clarify what he “meant” to say. I love drama! :)

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  4. kyle says:

    50% capacity and they might not replace it? Count me out.

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  5. Herm says:

    Statik Says: “For myself personally, if this report is indeed confirmed accurate, Nissan has just converted my purchase into a lease. /and I will not guarantee the range when I turn it in either”

    That is a very reasonable attitude, in any case I am not sure their warranty as stated is legal anyways.

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  6. Herm says:

    Since Leaf battery is larger, the same driver will discharge the Leaf battery a lot less than a Volt battery on the same commute. This will hopefully translate to a longer battery life (a big maybe).For example, my commute is 20 miles each way, so I expect to use about 40% of the 24 kwh Leaf battery each day.If I bought a Volt, I’ll use 100% of the 40% DoD Volt battery, which means I’ll discharge the Volt battery 60% each day.If I can convince my workplace to install a charger, then I’ll only draw down 20% of the battery each day and extend the life.

    Reposting this, sorry if it gets duplicated.

    Yoyo this is a different issue.. high temperature aging will steal capacity from your lithium ion battery even if it sits idle, and sometimes it happens quickly. Pehaps Nissan is counting on statistics and the average customer to keep the warranty issues under financial control. Nissan may have tweaked the chemistry to allow for this and it may turn out no to be an issue.

    I believe a “correction” will be issued quickly, Mark Perry should update his resume soon.
    BTW, even the Volts active cooling system is not a complete cure for this.

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  7. RB says:

    As for Nissan’s suggestion to not park it outside…
    .
    And don’t drive outside either. The design is indoor only. Very fragile.

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  8. Stan Stein said:
    Wow!!!! This is a show stopper. Nissan needs to clarify quickly!! I still have confidence that Nissan will do the “right” thing. Continued silence would be a huge mistake.  (Quote)

    I think that reaction is justified, and you have come to a good conclusion. We do still have to see what Nissan comes out and says/does, it could turn out to be a none issue and there is some other kind of coverage applicable to battery capacity in the end. And sooner is better than later in this case.

    The issue is that the quote is just out there hanging. We really did not want to go to press with anything untrue, or misleading, so we gave them a little time to react/debunk if they wanted to.

    At some point though, you just have to put it out there for what it is. While Nissan-LEAF.net is a site devoted to the LEAF, we did not envision it being a ‘fanboy’ site…so good with the bad (or the confusing) as the case may be. Yesterday, that meant publishing the internal dealer memo about allocations, today is this battery warranty issue.

    Hopefully, the next story is more positive, (=
    (If nothing else breaks, and your Canadian, it probably will be)

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  9. DonC says:

    A lease is the RX for many things. I’ve personally been surprised that so many people are intent on a purchase. If I could rent any new technology for a decent price I would. In a sense given the contract deals on mobile phones maybe I do lease that iPhone!

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  10. RB says:

    DonC said:

    A lease is the RX for many things.

    .
    A lease is not a free lunch. For individuals, a lease is a price increase, effectively adding the cost of an insurance policy against the risk of premature failure. Or you can just rent a Leaf week by week, a still higher price but even less risk. In this situation, all of these plans are a vote of no confidence in the Leaf.

    I’m sorry to be negative, but negativity seems more and more justified.

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  11. Gwido says:

    Hopefully, the next story is more positive, (=
    (If nothing else breaks, and your Canadian, it probably will be)  

    I look forward to that positive story. I hope it’s about the price… :-)
    Could it be about the timing for reservations, ordering and delivery? Or the fact that the cold weather package will be standard in Canada? Arghh Jay you’re driving me crazy with these “hints”!

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  12. Gwido says:

    “The warranty is not related to battery capacity. The warranty is related to motor output.”

    I wonder if a drop in capacity will also cause a drop in power… Batteries are built to provide (or take) a specific amount of power. Anybody knows that spec for the LEAF’s batteries? How much more powerful is the battery compared to the motor (which is 80 kW)?

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  13. Carcus says:

    Nissan has a battery temperature gauge displayed very prominently on the Leaf’s dash.

    Yet ,AFAIK, Nissan has never explained what the Leaf’s owner is supposed to do with that information.

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  14. Stan Stein says:

    Statik, Your philosophy and writings with respect to your site are right on. You call it fair and without bias as a good journalist should. The reason i enjoy your site is that you state your honest opinion and are candid. I also believe that quality companys like Nissan and quality people like Mark Perry need to be proded on occasion.—or maybe, he may need help from comments such as yours to motivate Perry`s superiors to pony up the correct direction to him. As a corporate executive he sometimes has to support things he may not agree with or is told to say something to see what customer reaction would be on the matter even if he disagrees. Nissan needs to step up and communicate now. I have to believe that this issue will go away if they do. They are too smart to have come this far with EV`s to spoil their marketing with an unreasonable articulation of their warranty.

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  15. Van says:

    Well I certainly do not understand this thread. “Capacity” is a little vague – was Nissan talking about “power capacity” (i.e. “x” kilowatts) or “energy storage capacity” (I.e “X” kilowatt hours.) Obviously, both aspects of “capacity” need to be warranted.

    So if the motor output is supposed to be above 70 kw provided the battery SOC is above 20% of initial capacity (i.e 4.8 kwh) and that is warranted, that would be a power output from motor warranty. This does not address the battery “energy storage capacity.” The statement from Nissan does not address that issue. To assume “energy storage capacity” is not warranted seem premature.

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  16. RB says:

    Stan Stein said:

    I also believe that quality companys like Nissan and quality people like Mark Perry need to be proded on occasion.

    .
    It is a good point. An optimistic interpretation is that all that is happening is that the detailed language of the warranty is not yet available. Perhaps when it is we will all find it satisfactory or even excellent. There is every reason for Nissan, which after all is a huge company with a long-term interest in a successful start for an innovative product, to have an exceptionally strong warranty during the Leaf’s first years on sale.

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  17. GeorgeS says:

    I would think that power output and energy capacity is linked. As the pack degrades, the C rate of the pack would degrade also.

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  18. JEff says:

    I think Mark Perry’s comments do not provide us much new information. They are superficial and qualitative, still no specifics. Saying that degradation caused by abusive treatment will not be covered by the warranty is nothing unusual and is to be expected. Most warranties have such a provision.

    As to his ‘off the cuff’ comment about parking it “outside in 140 degrees and all that “, I think even Phoenecians are safe. The highest temperature ever recorded there, in June 1990, was 122 degrees, and the highest temoerature ever recorded in North America, in Furnace Creek CA (in Death Valley), was 134 degrees on October 7, 1913. Parking it inside a closed un-air conditioned garage would be worse. Just leave the windows open!

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  19. Herm says:

    Batteries are built to provide (or take) a specific amount of power. Anybody knows that spec for the LEAF’s batteries? How much more powerful is the battery compared to the motor (which is 80 kW)?

    There are some reports from AESC on the batteries.. apparently their batteries were mostly designed to be capable of fast charges, a freebie from this design is that the batteries produce an excess of power and that they dont produce much heat when used.. a drawback is that they are heavier than ususal.

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/05/aesc-lithium-io.html

    2060w/kg power density, since the cells in the LEAF are 260kg (Goshn interview) then the maximum power it can output is 535kw, about 6 times what the motor is rated at. So the batteries can be in pretty bad shape and they should still be able to deliver full power..

      (Quote)

  20. Herm says:

    Note that most likely neither the wiring nor the cell tabs can handle an output of 535kw.. it just means the cells will not heat up producing a measly 90kw, and you will hardly see any voltage sag at those power levels.. it probably also means that they should be able to produce 90kw even at Canadian winter temperatures.

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  21. blind guy says:

    I lived in Phoenix for 23 yrs. and Tucson for 6 and would definately have concerns about this heat/warranty issue. Leaving windows cracked, using windshield shades and installing the best window tint can all help, but without pluging in and having battery conditioning available the inside of your car gets very hot! I would want perfect understanding of the warranty before purchase or leasing because “abuse” could apply to both situations IMO

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  22. RB says:

    I lived in Phoenix for 23 yrs. and Tucson for 6 and would definately have concerns about this heat/warranty issue.Leaving windows cracked, using windshield shades and installing the best window tint can all help, but without pluging in and having battery conditioning available the inside of your car gets very hot!I would want perfect understanding of the warranty before purchase or leasing because “abuse” could apply to both situations IMO  

    .
    Again optimistically, if a Leaf is sold in Phoenix, the seller is saying that the product is suitable for normal use in Phoenix. This aspect is not dependent on the warranty, as it is what the seller is doing by offering the car for sale there. And I’m sure Nissan intends that the Leaf will work fine in Phoenix.

      (Quote)

  23. GeorgeS says:

    There are some reports from AESC on the batteries.. apparently their batteries were mostly designed to be capable of fast charges, a freebie from this design is that the batteries produce an excess of power and that they dont produce much heat when used.. a drawback is that they are heavier than ususal.http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/05/aesc-lithium-io.html2060w/kg power density, since the cells in the LEAF are 260kg (Goshn interview) then the maximum power it can output is 535kw, about 6 times what the motor is rated at. So the batteries can be in pretty bad shape and they should still be able to deliver full power..  

    Herm,
    I think there is something wrong with those numbers as they equate to a 22C discharge rate. Also (and this is just my understanding and I may be wrong), a high charging C rate does not imply a high discharge C rate at one pertains to cathode design and one to anode design.

      (Quote)

  24. DonC says:

    Well I certainly do not understand this thread. “Capacity” is a little vague – was Nissan talking about “power capacity” (i.e. “x” kilowatts) or “energy storage capacity” (I.e “X” kilowatt hours.) Obviously, both aspects of “capacity” need to be warranted.

    I don’t think it’s vague. Capacity is energy and the unit is kWh. Power is the rate at which you use that energy, the first derivative if you prefer, and its unit is KW. The problem is of course that very limited capacity could support a given power output — for a very short period of time.

    Of course you could relate capacity and power in a different way if you specified a power level and a C or discharge rate. I suspect this is what Nissan has in mind and this would satisfy your criteria that both power and capacity be warranted.

    In my mind this is not going to be a big issue. That’s obviously a minority view but since simply specifying a power level is so meaningless, and since Mark Perry is mentioning capacity levels even when saying that’s not what is warranted, that’s what I’m going with. But note that Nissan is worried about heat, which shouldn’t be surprising given how big problem heat will be given the lack of active thermal management for the battery pack. Be prepared for a lot of fine print dealing with “heated” situations which void the warranty.

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  25. GeorgeS says:

    I lived in Phoenix for 23 yrs. and Tucson for 6 and would definately have concerns about this heat/warranty issue.Leaving windows cracked, using windshield shades and installing the best window tint can all help, but without pluging in and having battery conditioning available the inside of your car gets very hot!I would want perfect understanding of the warranty before purchase or leasing because “abuse” could apply to both situations IMO  

    Anyone in Phx is going to have to be a little careful with their Leaf. Do we know if the Leaf draws it’s battery cooling air from inside the passenger compartment?? If it does, and the cooling fans inside the pack one could be plugged in at work and keep the A/c on to some reasonable temp and cool the pack that way.

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  26. DonC says:

    I would want perfect understanding of the warranty before purchase or leasing because “abuse” could apply to both situations IMO 

    Leases don’t work that way. There are normal wear and tear provisions in a lease but those relate to the external state of the vehicle not the innards. As a lessee you’re not responsible for the state of the powertrain and I can’t imagine this would be any different with respect to the battery. Not being responsible for these types of things is the primary attraction of leasing. IOW these are the risks you offload onto the leasing company.

    FWIW I’ve said for some time that people living in Phoenix or Tucson would be well advised to lease unless there is some compelling reason not to. The battery pack in the Leaf is just not well enough designed for high temperature climates.

      (Quote)

  27. DonC says:

    If it does, and the cooling fans inside the pack one could be plugged in at work and keep the A/c on to some reasonable temp and cool the pack that way.  

    AFAIK the fan just circulates air in order to eliminate hot spots by keeping all areas of the pack at a similar temperature. Cooling is by conduction and radiation not convection.

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  28. yoyo says:

    park it outside

    you seem to be implying that it’s not being irresponsible to park it outside in 140deg temperature (which is 60deg celsius).

    should there be a temperature cutoff when it does become irresponsible? what temperature should it be? keep in mind Intel’s CPU room temperature spec is 40deg (inlet temperature).
    http://www.intel.com/support/processors/pentium4/sb/cs-007999.htm

      (Quote)

  29. CaptJackSparrow says:

    I think they should incorporate some TEC (Thermo Electric Cooling/Peltier Junction) on the LEAF for cooling/heating the cab. The roof should have enough space to accommodate two 60W flex solar strips. You’ll be using free energy from the sun to cool the cabin.
    That should be enough to keep it well below 110deg F.
    Sure TEC isn’t efficient, but it’s quick and easy and the same energy that heats the inside will help cool the inside. Just harness the Sun.
    KISS maaaaan!

      (Quote)

  30. Herm says:

    Anyone in Phx is going to have to be a little careful with their Leaf. Do we know if the Leaf draws it’s battery cooling air from inside the passenger compartment?? If it does, and the cooling fans inside the pack one could be plugged in at work and keep the A/c on to some reasonable temp and cool the pack that way. 

    There is no air drawn into the battery case, in pictures you can see its a sealed pack. They even submerge the pack into ice water to test the integrity of the case.

    http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewforum.php?f=9

      (Quote)

  31. blind guy says:

    George S., I don’t have a source, but my understanding is that the battery would use cabin air to condition the battery since we like similar temperatures as the battery. Since no where gets 140 degrees, I am assuming the cabin air temp. and or blacktop temp. would be the temperature abuse Nissan refers too? Oh, and I don’t mean “No Where AZ.”. IMO we need more info. on the purpose of the battery temp. meter and warranty.

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  32. DonC says:

    A lease is not a free lunch. For individuals, a lease is a price increase, effectively adding the cost of an insurance policy against the risk of premature failure

    A lease is most definitely not a price increase. The lease price is the same as the purchase price. If you run the numbers on a 60 month purchase and a 60 month lease with no residual they’ll be more or less the same (with the lease in some states better for the lease and in some better for the purchase, depending on how the rebate is treated for state sales tax purposes).

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  33. Tall Pete says:

    /and I will not guarantee the range when I turn it in either

    Funny.

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  34. CaptJackSparrow says:

    A lease is most definitely not a price increase. The lease price is the same as the purchase price. If you run the numbers on a 60 month purchase and a 60 month lease with no residual they’ll be more or less the same (with the lease in some states better for the lease and in some better for the purchase, depending on how the rebate is treated for state sales tax purposes).  

    But you don’t own the car at the end of the LEASE.payments.

    /that’s the limit of my knowledge of a LEASE…. :o )

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  35. CaptJackSparrow says:

    /and I will not guarantee the range when I turn it in either

    lol…..technically that’s not your job. Nobody does that for an ICE car when they return the LEASE right? There;s no guarantee it still gets xxMPG upon LEASE return.

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  36. GeorgeS says:

    AFAIK the fan just circulates air in order to eliminate hot spots by keeping all areas of the pack at a similar temperature. Cooling is by conduction and radiation not convection.  

    Yes I have heard that also but it doesn’t make any sense.

      (Quote)

  37. GeorgeS says:

    There is no air drawn into the battery case, in pictures you can see its a sealed pack. They even submerge the pack into ice water to test the integrity of the case.http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewforum.php?f=9  

    Could you be more specific as to where in the forum it is??-Thx-GSB

      (Quote)

  38. BLIND GUY says:

    I was under the impression that cabin air would be blown in and out of the battery pack. It now seems to be that the cabin air does not blow inside of the battery pack but only has an indirect effect on the battery temp. By the time I’m ready to buy much more should be known about battery performance in hot climates.

      (Quote)

  39. DonC says:

    I was under the impression that cabin air would be blown in and out of the battery pack. It now seems to be that the cabin air does not blow inside of the battery pack but only has an indirect effect on the battery temp.

    No offense, but if it worked that way I wouldn’t suggest that anyone buy or lease it! Batteries are chemical plants. They’re dangerous. You want to isolate them from the passengers. If you blew cabin air into and out of the battery pack you’d be blowing all kinds of potentially noxious stuff from the pack into the cabin. Sort of the equivalent of putting your mouth over the tailpipe.

    There is also the problem of fire and explosions. By keeping the pack isolated from the passenger compartment you’re reducing the dangers.

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  40. DonC says:

    But you don’t own the car at the end of the LEASE.payments.

    OK. My bad. Technically you wouldn’t own it. You’d have to exercise your right to “buy” it for $0. (The buyout price = the residual = $0).

    Tough crowd! LOL

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  41. evnow says:

    “For myself personally, if this report is indeed confirmed accurate, Nissan has just converted my purchase into a lease.”

    Oh, finally. Anyone who can add 1 & 1 would come to that conclusion. I’m going to do a lease blog post soon to explain why – but to me it is “no brainer” at this point.

    I wish I had this choice when I was buying all those expesinve HDTVs in late 90s.

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  42. TRONZ says:

    To be honest if I were really worried about “batteries” I would be staying away from EV’s period, much less be getting one the first day they are available (like us). It is really a risk/benefit equation and I’m fine with the LEAF as spec’d. Batteries will only get better and cheaper. It’s good to be fluid when you are an early adopter. In reality, Japanese corporations don’t do anything without a long-term plan. I would not be surprised if a 200 mile pack is already in development/testing… and will fit in the LEAF. Plug and play is good. Now if the wheels might fall off… thats another story!

      (Quote)

  43. James says:

    I was not going to bring this up but now that we are on the subject, it clearly states in the range section of the LEAF website that at 95 degrees and driving at 55 mph you range will be reduced to 70 miles. In Arizona it is 95 degrees or higher 7 months out of the year. So what is the range during the 2-3 months of One teens? (<110) It is clear to me that an EV needs some sort of thermal battery temperature management in AZ – like the Focus BEV….and yes I put the dots in for you Jay.

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  44. James said:
    I was not going to bring this up but now that we are on the subject, it clearly states in the range section of the LEAF website that at 95 degrees and driving at 55 mph you range will be reduced to 70 miles. In Arizona it is 95 degrees or higher 7 months out of the year. So what is the range during the 2-3 months of One teens? (<110) It is clear to me that an EV needs some sort of thermal battery temperature management in AZ – like the Focus BEV….and yes I put the dots in for you Jay.  (Quote)

    Whats this about dots?
    …I don’t do that

      (Quote)

  45. Bill says:

    James, check that chart again. Wasn’t that 70 miles WITH the A/C on? When it’s only 95 degrees here, I sure don’t need A/C because it is really dry and only feels like the 80′s.

      (Quote)

  46. Herm says:

    James, check that chart again.Wasn’t that 70 miles WITH the A/C on?When it’s only 95 degrees here, I sure don’t need A/C because it is really dry and only feels like the 80′s.

    I recently learned the AC in the LEAF only uses 600w at the max setting, the battery could power that for around 36 hours.

      (Quote)

  47. JEff says:

    you seem to be implying that it’s not being irresponsible to park it outside in 140deg temperature (which is 60deg celsius).should there be a temperature cutoff when it does become irresponsible? what temperature should it be?

    Moot point, isn’t it? Let me know when you find somplace with 140F heat in which to park it.

      (Quote)

  48. Herm said:
    I recently learned the AC in the LEAF only uses 600w at the max setting, the battery could power that for around 36 hours.  (Quote)

    I’ve seen some people ‘math’ that out for the A/C, but do you have a cite for that? That would be a good thing for people to know if confirmed

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  49. Gary says:

    “/and I will not guarantee the range when I turn it in either”

    If the car can only go 30 miles on a charge after the lease is up, I wonder if Nissan can ding you for “excessive wear and tear” like on any other leased vehicle when you bring it back. The definition of “wear and tear” depends on the standards of an individual… be it from an OCD neat freak or an unshaven hobo living on the streets.

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