October 3, 2012
Nissan has bought back Leaf all-electric vehicles from two U.S. customers in Phoenix after repeated complaints of a permanent loss of battery capacity and range, reports an official company press release.
The automaker has made the repurchase as a “good will gesture in the interest of customer satisfaction,” according to a statement from David Reuter, Nissan’s vice president of corporate communications. Nissan's action is viewed by some observers as a way to silence the two troubled customers, although discussions at the MyNissanLEAF forum suggest Leaf owners have been anything but quiet on the matter.
Nissan has sold more than 450 Leafs in Arizona, and there are complaints from a handful of customers about their vehicles permanently losing battery capacity and, therefore, range, resulting in total mileage of as low as 45 miles on a single charge.
The extreme hot weather conditions in Arizona have been held responsible for the gradual loss of battery capacity, although Nissan claims to have found no defect in the batteries during recent testing. The incidents appear to have begun to damage the vehicle’s reputation, evident from its constantly deteriorating sales in the United States.
The repurchase deals might trigger similar requests from other troubled owners in Arizona, which could make matters worse for Nissan. But the repurchases may now allow the automaker to conduct elaborate testing on the batteries, helping it to probe potential issues at the cell or material level.
Some observers have pointed to a potential source of the problem being the Leaf’s use of air-cooled lithium-ion battery packs rather than liquid thermal control, which is used to maintain optimal battery temperature in competitors, such as the Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Roadster and Ford Focus Electric.
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