I think my head is about to explode!
I’ve reviewed another twenty pages or so of posts, which now brings us to page 100 of what is now an almost 300 page long conversation on the My Nissan LEAF (MNL) forum regarding the Nissan LEAF battery capacity loss issue. With every passing post one can feel that the energy being sapped from the Nissan LEAF is being absorbed by this vocal group of owners as their commentary gets more heated with seemingly every additional page.
While a few more owners reported the loss of a battery capacity segment in this group of pages, of more interest to note is that at least two owners reported the loss of a second battery capacity segment. In one instance, this occured only six weeks after he reported the loss of his first battery capacity segment. Clearly, this was not the expectation of anyone buying a Nissan LEAF, whether that person would reside in Phoenix or in Portland – another initial launch city. At this point, as many as five LEAFs are reported on the MNL wiki page as having lost as many as three battery capacity segments. More interesting to me is that at least one of these is a low mileage car – less than 8,000 miles. Unfortunately, from an owner reported data standpoint, most of the driving and charging history of this particular car is unavailable as this owner just purchased the LEAF as a pre-owned vehicle. I took a peek into his future posts and found that this particular car was a lease return vehicle with one capacity bar gone when purchased by this second owner from CarMax. As expected, a Nissan dealer would not wish to have a used LEAF missing a battery capacity segment available for sale on their lot.
What is clear is that many LEAF owners expect a response – the sooner the better – from Nissan. While we have no idea what that ultimate response from Nissan will be, it is pretty clear from Nissan’s earlier open letter to Nissan LEAF owners, with less than one percent of all U.S. LEAF owners impacted by this problem, Nissan will claim that the problem is not widespread. Based on the available public numbers reported to date, it would be difficult to challenge that assessment. It is likely that there are other owners impacted by this problem that are not reported on the MNL forum, but it is also true that this particular forum has a large number of LEAF owners represented among its ranks. One could statistically extrapolate from this database to generate a reasonable picture of the larger problem. Too, Nissan has all of the CARWINGS data to review for those that have opted to use the system.
As we continue to wade through this information, it is becoming clear that the vast majority of these instances are occuring in extremely hot climate areas. While some instances are occuring in other locales besides Arizona, it could also reasonably be concluded that other factors may have been at play in those other circumstances. It has been previously stated that Nissan chose to forgo an active cooling mechanism in order to preserve passenger space. Whatever the ultimate reason, designing any car – gasoline or electric – is always an exercise in tradeoffs. For that matter, designing anything from a computer to a pencil requires making decisions that can later be looked at and scrutinized in great detail for their creativeness or foolhardiness. Such is the way in business. The perfect solution will never present itself, so the best combination (in someone’s view), is what finally makes it out the door. Had Nissan included a costly active cooling mechanism it would have raised the price of the car, and perhaps reduced passenger carrying capacity, in all areas not just those potentially affected by the accelerated battery degradation. In turn, those issues may have resulted in fewer potential units sold making it less likely that the vehicle would have made it out the door to begin with.
Are we trying to defend Nissan? Not particularly – we are just stating the obvious. At some point, someone is going to look at this and ask themselves (and likely a room filled with others as well), what are we to do? Ultimately we feel that this decision will be laid at the feet of none other than Carlos Ghosn – Nissan’s passionate electric vehicle (EV) advocate. The answer served up will not only impact Nissan, but potentially the entire EV marketplace as not only Nissan’s consumers, but other EV manufacturers, will be looking to Nissan’s response as a factor that could impact the EV world for some time to come.