Batteries

Published on March 25th, 2015 | by Christopher DeMorro

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99.99% Of Nissan LEAF Batteries Still In Operation

March 25th, 2015 by  

One of the “boogeymen” that anti-EV idiots like to mention is the high cost of replacing a broken battery. It’s true, EV batteries aren’t cheap; a replacement pack for the Nissan LEAF costs $5,500 plus the old battery. But do LEAF batteries fail frequently? New data show that out of 35,000 Nissan LEAF sales in Europe, just 0.01%, or 3 units total, have failed.

leaf-battery

Now, obviously there are some caveats to take with this news. For one, the 35,000 LEAF sales are spread out over five years… some of those cars may be five years old, but some are fewer than 5 months old. Furthermore, the battery, while expensive, is but one component of the LEAF EV. That said, the rest of the electric drivetrain is pretty dang simple, with the motor having just a handful of moving parts.

“The facts speak for themselves. The rate of battery faults in our vehicles is negligible, even the most ardent critic cannot argue with that,” said Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Director of EVs for Nissan Europe. “The battery technology is just part of our success story. With over 165,000 customers globally, it’s clear that we’re not the only people who are thrilled by the success of this state-of-the-art technology.”

There also aren’t any oil or transmission fluid changes to worry about, which Nissan claims lowers maintenance costs by some 40% compared to conventional cars, and no smog checks in places where those are required. Furthermore, Nissan provides an 8-year, 100,000 mile/160,000 km battery warranty. For the few power drivers that have already eclipsed the mileage warranty, Nissan also provides a battery replacement option for packs with less than 70% of their original capacity… provided the owner pays a small monthly fee for the insurance, as it were.

Can electric cars change what we know about vehicle reliability? Considering Nissan sold some 30,000 LEAFs in the US last year alone, it seems like they already are.


Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Just dropped by to say 71,000 miles on my ’11 and 84% SOH still gives me plenty of range for my daily commute plus running errands. (60 mile range typical)

    • Stephen Hodges

      Compared to 26,000 miles on my ’11 and 66% SOH makes thing rather difficult… still 9 bars though keeping one eye on the last one!

  • jfreed27

    I rather drive my Leaf than any car I have owned

  • Ben Helton

    One in 10,000? That means only a handful of batteries have been replaced….. That can’t be right. Look at how many people sued Nissan in class action lawsuits and it will very clearly contradict these percentages to be true in the US

    • GCO

      “Look at how many people”… “lawsuits”… Sorry, I don’t know, but it sounds like you have numbers — care to share them with us?

      Also, do you have any indication that whatever vehicle(s) you talk about had their battery replaced — as opposed to purchased back by Nissan, and resold used, for example?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Yes, Ben, bring the numbers.

        What I’ve found is that a class action lawsuit was filed by with two named as plaintiffs – Humberto Daniel Klee and David Wallak.

        http://www.autoblog.com/2012/10/01/nissan-class-action-lawsuit-leaf-batteries-lacks-merit/

        http://classaction.kccllc.net/Documents/NNK0001/NNK%20-%20Executed%20Preliminary%20Approval%20Order.pdf

        And that Nissan bought back Leafs from two unhappy customers.

        http://www.autoblog.com/2012/09/28/nissan-buys-back-two-leafs-in-arizona-under-lemon-laws/

        For some reason I’m not finding those big numbers when I search “Leaf owners sue Nissan”.

        At the time of the ‘great unhappiness’ Nissan had apparently sold 38,000 Leafs globally, 14,000 in the US and 450 in the Phoenix area which seems to have been the epicenter of misery.

        What numbers do you see, Ben?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Oh, we’re working our way up from 0.03%. (4/14,000)

          Ben?

        • Ben Helton

          Jon Chun

          Mervyn Devine

          Patricia Devine

          Collen Walsh Eckhart

          Jonathan Eckhart

          Roberta Friedman

          Robin Jans

          Humberto Daniel Klee

          Represented by:

          Jordan L Lurie, Capstone Law APC

          Cody R Padgett, Capstone Law APC

          Tarek H Zohdy, Capstone Law APC

          Andrew Joseph Sokolowski, The Law Office of Andrew J Sokolowski

          Gene Arthur Meneses, Initiative Legal Group APC

          Sue Kim Leung, Capstone Law APC

          David L Cheng, Ford and Harrison LLP

          Arvin Ratanavongse, The Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C.

          Leslie Kornblum

          Alex Kozinski

          Represented by:

          Marcy J K Tiffany, Tiffany Law Group PC

          Mark D Larsen

          • Bob_Wallace

            There’s some double counting going on there.

            Looks like 8 out of 14,000. 0.06% And the settlement was not replacement but warranty extension.

      • Ben Helton

        Actually – lemon law forced Nissan to buy many of them back.

        “After just 15 months of ownership, three of the capacity bars on his Leaf’s dashboard had disappeared, representing a 27.5 percent loss in battery capacity.”

    • PS

      I attended the class action Nissan Leaf class action lawsuit final hearing 6.9.15. Nissan lawyers admitted they replaced 400 batteries under 4 bar voluntary “warranty”. I would add untold numbers of folks who simply packed the car back to Nissan under lease completion. It is unclear from testimony if I can answer the question if replacement warranty will apply to 2nd owners. I left hearing with belief that it didn’t apply to 2nd owners. When my 4th bar drops, my car will get new battery and I’m selling / dumping this P.O.S.

      • Bob_Wallace

        400 out of how many, PS? What’s your estimate of how large the problem might be? And was the majority of the problem in the Phoenix area?

        Earlier I posted the numbers I found.

        “At the time of the ‘great unhappiness’ Nissan had apparently sold 38,000 Leafs globally, 14,000 in the US and 450 in the Phoenix area which seems to have been the epicenter of misery.”

        400 out of 38,000 would be 1%.

  • VFanRJ

    As a Leaf owner there are two dynamics that still concern me.
    1) Nissan has defined failure as 67% or below. When you calculate how far you can drive on 67% that is too low of range for most people.
    2) Since most of those who have complained about the battery live in NA it would be interesting to see this same statistic for the U.S./Canada.

    It’s too early to understand what effect the Lizard battery has on battery longevity but I’m hopeful. Once Nissan gains greater confidence in their battery perhaps they will consider raising their definition of failure to 80% of initial capacity.

  • vensonata

    There was a study by JoeVicoe who sometimes shows up here as a commenter on leaf batteries throughout the US. The hotter the state the shorter the life. Alaska life expectations were something like 12 years. Arizona 3 years. Heat kills because they don’t have liquid cooling like Tesla. The new leafs may have fixed the whole issue with better batteries and pack design. Time will tell.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Nissan has been replacing the batteries that have lost range in hotter climates. Since the web is not ablaze with complaints about the “lizard battery” I would assume they solved the problem.

      http://insideevs.com/nissan-leaf-battery-swap-under-warranty-video/

    • Joe Viocoe

      Hi… Thanks for the credit… But I was only referencing the Wikipedia pages on the My Nissan Leaf forum regarding the battery degradation. I helped compile some stats for the drivers who reported abnormal degradation, but the majority of the work was done by the LEAF owners of San Diego and Phoenix.

  • Offgridman

    Would it be possible to get the reports for the number or percentage of failures in the US?
    This is great news for the European drivers, however it is from the US southwest with its high temperatures during the summer that there have been reports of battery failure and/or degradation.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Nissan had some problems with batteries in some hotter areas. They modified their battery and those problems seem to have gone away.

      • Offgridman

        Good morning Bob,
        Yes I remember hearing about the modifications to their cooling systems a few years back. But it would be nice to have an idea on how things are going since then for US drivers or those considering getting one of the used 2012`s that have come off lease and can be picked up for a reasonable price.
        Have also heard talk about Nissan including the Leaf in their drive train extended warranty program for buyers of used cars. If this is true it could help encourage sales and alleviate the concerns of those buying the used Leaf’s.

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, this a different battery formulation. A different chemistry (I would assume).

          Still air cooled but using a battery that doesn’t suffer from rapid charging when atmospheric temperatures are high.

          I’m sure that the people who were most upset (the list of public complainers was short) are now watching their new batteries very closely and would be very vocal if their problems had not been solved.

          It’s like Tesla ‘bricking’ and battery fires. If something bad is happening with EVs it is all over the media. Fix the problem and nothing more is said.

          Why people aren’t snapping up lightly used Leafs for ~$12k to $14k is a mystery to me. What an excellent vehicle for most multi-vehicle households.

          • Martin

            Did not know you could find used ones already, as far as I know, had someone check in Canada, and they only found a used Tesla.

          • Bob_Wallace

            CarMax has 200 listed in the US. Bunch starting at ~$12k.

            http://www.carmax.com/search?ASc=14&D=90&zip=95526&ASTc=nissan%20leaf&Q=c407f361-83b8-49e9-b635-4be0e42b546d&Ep=search:results:results%20page

            A lot of people got them on three year leases and the lease period is now up for many of the 2012s.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Canadian Black Book is listing 57.

            Their cheapest has sort of had a rough life….

          • sjc_1

            Southern California has several 2011 LEAFs with around 40k miles for $10K.

          • Offgridman

            “Why people aren’t snapping up lightly used Leafs……”
            As for others I don’t know? When checking with the dealer just outside of Chattanooga in the first half of February they only had five available and before dickering were asking for 12,500 – 16$K, and were unable to confirm if the like new warranty extension was available. The salesman seemed pretty sure that by May-June they would be so over stocked with returns that 10K cash would have us driving one home.
            Of course this is just word of mouth here say from a car salesman so no guarantees.
            The wife would prefer to get a Soul EV for the extra space and little longer range (and she thinks the hamsters are cute….. what a reason to pick a car) and it would work better for her business as she currently uses a CUV. So maybe by that time they will be available around the Atlanta area and she will end up going with it. I know it won’t be until next winter or spring, but I am still holding out for my X reservation as it will let me take two vehicles off the road not just one.
            If Nissan gets hard enough up that they start doing secondary leases on the used ones for a year or two I might consider it, but otherwise they just don’t have the range to cover enough of my trips to be practical for a regular purchase.

          • DianeH

            Why buy used when you can get a new one for 16K? In CA the state will give you $2500 and the feds will reduce your income tax by $7500. Right now Nissan is offering $5K cash back on purchase, driving the cost down into the “used” range.

          • Offgridman

            It is wonderful that in California you have the various incentives and a build out of charging infrastructure that make the purchase of a new Leaf economical. But did you notice that my purchase is being attempted in Tennessee? Where a couple of the cities are starting to install chargers, but there is not the other incentives available to you. Also while we manage to live comfortably on a lower income, it means that there is not the income tax liability to use the federal rebate.
            There are a lot of places in the US that don’t have the same government incentives, or the charging infrastructure of California and thus the purchase of a new Leaf does not make sense either economically or in usability.

          • danwat1234

            That’s if your income is high enough to get those tax breaks. For lower middle class, a used Leaf (and eventually used Volts when they drop some more) is where it’s at.

  • Martin

    I have read yesterday an article that a “professor” wrote and came to the conclusion that in Canada some places it is less of an environmental impact to drice an ICE than electric!
    Zach – Somebody NEEDS to write about the total ENERGY USE, for using electricity, supply, transportation, and using it in a EV and as for oil, extraction, refining, transportation, and using it for driving in and ICE!
    Even without the impact on the environment, I do KNOW already what that comparison will be, but it NEEDS to be out there and SHARED.
    Sorry about the capital letters, but most people on this site will share my frustration about all of this and the ignorance of other people.

    • Already done, and well done at that. See Rob here:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQpX-9OyEr4

      Quote : “How much electricity do we use to refine crude oil in the UK?”

      • Martin

        Yes very well done,but extraction was not taken into account and the transportation of the crude and then the pertol, like they say in England, that may change the whole number just a bit! :(( for the environment.

  • jburt56

    I know of a Prius pushing 200000 miles with no battery replacement. There does seem to be paranoia about this out there.

    • Michael G

      Here’s a Consumer Reports comparison of a 2K mile 2002 Prius vs. 208K mile 2002 Prius. Not much difference.

      http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/02/the-200-000-mile-question-how-does-the-toyota-prius-hold-up/index.htm

      • Andrew Newman

        I notice they don’t claim the batteries were the original batteries.
        I think its standard to replace the batteries after 10 years.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You might want to look and see if you can find a factual basis for your belief.

          • Andrew Newman

            If they don’t specifically say so then it must be assumed they are not.

            Quote: “We were also surprised to learn that the engine, transmission, and even shocks were all original.”

            Batteries not mentioned.

          • Bob_Wallace

            With no information you are free to assume what you wish?

            Hummmm……………..

        • No_name_Mcklusky

          We had a Prius, did every scheduled maintenance at the dealer, drove about 50k miles/year. At 150k miles the ICE engine blew and had to be replaced. At 200k miles the batteries (hybrid and the other one) died. It’s messed up that you can’t drive with just the ICE engine. Big design flaw. Every 5 miles or so you pull over and reboot the car trying to make it home…yeah when them batteries die they die quickly.
          At the time there was another $2k+ of repairs to be done, so we scrapped the damn car.
          We know others that did not get such a lemon, but the experience soured us.

    • Ben Helton

      NiMH are more reliable, especially in thermal stress situations.

      Either way, Toyota knows most hybrids will see a replacement battery pack to keep the hybrid on the road with the same gas mileage. For that 1.3KWh pack, even with mass production systems, aftermarket players getting involved (like Dorman), returning cores, etc, it’s still over $1000 / KWh for the battery in these things.

    • jondoe

      A friend just replaced hers at 200k. Incredible!

      • Bob_Wallace

        Do know any details? Such as what sort of performance decrease said it’s time to replace the battery or the cost to replace.

  • Frank

    If they increase the range to 200 miles, and the packs are equally sturdy, and the customer drives the same number of miles, then they should last much longer, maybe double.

    • Ben Helton

      Not necessarily.

      If you know much about lithium ion batteries, they will go bad and expire if not even used at all. The moment a battery is built, it is being taxed by age before it even gets packaged. (This is why most manufacturers ship the batteries with about 50% charge).

      • Bob_Wallace

        And what is your data source for that, Ben?

        • danwat1234

          It is well known (Look up Battery University website, etc) that Lithium batteries will gradually lose capacity just by time at a certain temperature. The hotter the battery or battery pack is for some amount of time, the pack will degrade a certain amount, depending on the exact battery chemistry too.
          This is exasperated (right word?) by being fully charged. So storing a battery pack at 70 degrees Fahrenheit at 70% or less charge most of the time will let it last a lot longer than at 70 degrees and 95% charge for instance, or 100 degrees and 70% average charge, etc.

          NiMH batteries are affected by this too I’m sure, but I don’t know how much

  • Radical Ignorant

    That’s great from Nissan that they provide clear rules about guarantee. And a very reasonable ones.

    • Michael G

      In the US the battery is considered by the EPA to be an anti-pollution device. All anti-pollution devices on all cars are required to last 100K miles or be replaced under warranty by the manufacturer. So Nissan is guranteeing what they are legally required to guarantee in the US.

      In CA and several states that follow CA rules, that limit is 150,000 miles for hybrid batteries, though they might have different rules for pure EVs – I haven’t kept up.

      When I was working at the EPA testing labs we would see cars have “unscheduled maintenance” – like a new engine – as they ran the car around a track to get the 100K miles in. As long as it wasn’t an anti-pollution device we didn’t care.

      I was shopping for a used car recently and noticed the Civic hybrids often mentioned a new battery replacement around 130K. Those are NiMH not Li-ion so I can’t say what is normal for Li-Ion.

      • Radical Ignorant

        Thanks for interesting explanations. Nice to know. However between the lines I was refering to Tesla. And from what you said it’s required that they will work, not how well they will work. Nissan is saying >70% of capacity and it’s clear information for customer. Unfortunately not such clear in case of Tesla.

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