Nissan Buys Back Two Electric Cars from Angry Owners; Turning Over a New Leaf?

By Jacob Brown | September 28, 2012
Nissan Leaf customers in Arizona have faced conditions the automaker maybe didn't plan for. With temperatures that oftentimes soared past 110 degrees Fahrenheit during summer, some Leaf owners reported subpar driving range. The news made its way to Nissan, which sent out consultants and engineers to test each of the cars. There were seven big complaints in the midst of this brouhaha; now two cars are being bought back by Nissan due to their prematurely shortened range. "We are not happy that we have any customers with concerns and we're working hard to improve our customer communications to better meet their expectations," said Nissan's chief spokesperson David Reuter in an interview with Automotive News. "In Phoenix, we have some approximately 450 vehicles, with the majority of those to very satisfied owners. In fact, worldwide Leaf customers are some of Nissan's most satisfied."
So what went wrong with the two cars Nissan repurchased? Nissan hasn't said yet. The automaker has mentioned time and time again that it expected the Leaf's lithium-ion battery pack to deplete by about 20 percent after the first five years. The 2012 Nissan Leaf is rated with an EPA-estimated range of 73 miles per charge. Some of these cars have apparently had battery deterioration occur at a quicker rate in the hot desert. Nissan's Carla Bailo, the head of the automaker's North American research and development, said several of the cars in question that were not bought back had unusually high mileage, leading to a quicker than expected battery depletion. Nissan estimated its battery integrity assuming 12,500 miles of travel per year. Heat would appear to be the biggest culprit. Unlike some of its newer competitors, the Nissan Leaf has an air-cooled battery pack whereas vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 EV have a water-cooled system. It could also be that electric vehicle drivers just expect to use their cars more often, seeing as it greatly reduces costs. Through the past two years, Nissan has sold more than 14,000 Leaf hatchbacks in the U.S. and 37,000 worldwide. In the future, Nissan is planning on using its lithium-ion packs in a wide array of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles, and rumors persist that it will be upgrading its electronics systems soon. Here's hoping it alleviates any more problems that crop up in the future. Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)