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Nissan Offers First Ever Battery Capacity Warranty On Leaf

Nissan Motor Co. in an attempt to reassure customers about the durability of the batteries in the all-electric Leaf are upping the current warranty. Nissan will be notifying current owners as well as dealers early in the new year that Nissan will repair or replace the lithium-ion battery if it loses 30 percent or more of its ability to hold a charge up to 60,000 miles or 5 years, whichever comes first.

This is a big change from the current warranty, which doesn’t directly spell out battery coverage. The new warranty will also apply to all new Leafs being sold.

Andy Palmer, executive vice president of Nissan Motor Co. in Japan recently released the warranty change on mynissanleaf.com, the U.S. Leaf owner Web site.

The change is most likely a result of months of arguments between a number of Leaf owners in the Phoenix area and Nissan. The Phoenix owners have been claiming that the batteries in their Leaf are aging much quicker than Nissan had led them to believe. This can be a very expensive problem as the Leaf is completely dependent on the integrated lithium-ion battery system, which runs the vehicle. The battery is by far the most expensive component of the vehicle.

Batteries will eventually lose charge

Nissan was up front with owners from its 2010 launch that the rechargeable batteries in the Leaf would slowly lose the ability to hold a full charge, behaving much like cell phone batteries. According to Nissan Leaf owners, they were told to expect up to a 20 percent loss of charging capacity after five years of normal driving. Unfortunately, seven Phoenix owners claim they are experiencing capacity losses at much greater rates.

These complaints have hit the Internet and are spawning customer concern, which is affecting sales. Nissan recently starting marketing the Leaf in all 50 states and had forecast sales in the range of 20,000 cars by the end of the year. It seems unlikely that they will meet these sales goals, having sold only 8,330 Leafs through the month of November, down 5 percent from last year.

Nissan, concerned about the battery issues investigated the claims this summer, sending both product planners and engineers to Phoenix to investigate. They concluded that these drivers were putting twice as many miles on the cars as would be considered normal.

Most typical Leaf owners will not be affected by the new warranty coverage. According to a Nissan spokesperson, only Leaf owners that drive heavily or live in areas where the summer heat is extreme are likely to experience rapid battery deterioration.

One of a Kind Warranty

According to the press release, Nissan is now the “first and only manufacturer in the automotive industry to provide limited warranty coverage for battery capacity loss for electric vehicles.”

The release continues “Under an expanded new Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty, Nissan will protect against capacity loss in Leaf batteries that fall below nine bars, of the available 12 bars displayed on the vehicle’s battery capacity gauge, for the first five years or 60,000 miles in the United States, whichever comes first. For Leaf vehicles whose batteries have fallen below nine bars during this period, Nissan will repair or replace the battery under warranty with a new or remanufactured battery to restore capacity at or above a minimum of nine bars.”

Nissan is also planning to unveil a gauge improvement that will increase the precision of the battery capacity display.