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Leaf owners: Your thoughts on the battery pack?

Discussion in 'Nissan Hybrids and EVs' started by daniel, Jun 23, 2011.

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  1. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    First off, let me say I'd have bought a Leaf, in spite of everything below, if Nissan hadn't screwed with me so much. (Long story I won't go into here, but I finally got sick of being jacked around and I canceled the order.)

    But to the battery pack:

    Unlike some other EVs, Nissan has chosen not to have any sort of active battery cooling. That might not even be an issue if they explained why their particular kind of battery does not need cooling, but they've been very closed-mouthed about all aspects of the car and have refused to explain why their technology does not need it. And even that might not be an issue if they guaranteed some specified battery life, but on the contrary, they specifically exclude loss of range from their warranty.

    I have a friend who canceled his Leaf order when he was unable to get any explanation from Nissan about why their car does not employ active cooling.

    Tesla, by contrast, uses liquid cooling (albeit with a different battery chemistry that may have very different thermal properties) and active balancing: Even when the car is shut off the batteries are constantly being balanced, and any time it is on or plugged in, battery temperature is maintained at a set level which depends on the mode chosen by the owner: Performance mode keeps the batteries warmer so they can deliver more current.

    Again, I'd have been willing to take my chances, if they'd deigned to sell me a car. But I'm wondering if owners have any misgivings. Clearly, if you bought the car you did so willing to take whatever risks you perceived, or else you trust Nissan to do it right even if they refuse to explain their reasons. Maybe some people leased specifically because they didn't trust Nissan about the battery.

    What are your feelings? Would you have preferred an actively cooled battery pack? Do you feel Nissan would have cooled the pack if there was any need for it? Or did you just want the car so badly that you bought it expecting to have to replace the pack at some undetermined time?
  2. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    DaveinOly owns a LEAF in this forum, I think our total is two or three. A LEAF forum would get more responses I imagine.

    However, I think you are wrong about the LEAF battery warranty. IIRC it is warranted based on capacity. It makes no sense to warrant range since driving habits and terrain are so variable.

    Complaining about being 'jerked around' by Nissan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami is at best sour grapes, and smells of puerile egotism I thought beneath you Daniel. Anyway, let it go since you will have your Tesla toy shortly.
    GasFreeLeaf likes this.
  3. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    My understanding is that Leaf DOES have active cooling by air with the fan. It is not have liquid cooling but air cooling is active.

    Prius PHV prototype is also actively cooled by fans.
  4. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    Leaf buyers are required to sign a 4-page waiver stating that they understand that the warranty does NOT cover deterioration of the battery, as it is considered a "wear" item. That may seem to make no sense, but it is the reason that some people have chosen to lease, rather than buy the car, and it is a component of the reason a friend of mine canceled his order. The battery is warranted against manufacturing defects. It is not warranted to have any specific range at any specific time after purchase.

    And the jerking around of me and many other early orderers began long before the tsunami, and continued long after they resumed "normal" delivery of cars ordered in February, five months after we early orderers. I remained patient for about 4 months after the car was originally promised, then I began to get upset, and finally, five months after the car was originally promised, and 4 or 5 promised deadlines had passed with no explanation or information, I canceled my order and bought a different car instead.

    But I didn't want to start a thread about my gripes. I was hoping to hear what people felt about Nissan's choice to: 1. have no active cooling; 2. refuse to explain why, and 3. refuse to guarantee how long the battery would last. At the very least they could have offered an explanation of why their technology does not require it.
  5. GeekEV

    GeekEV Member

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    I have a LEAF. I'm not concerned with the engineering decisions, they're Nissan's to make. I have no clue if it needs active cooling or not. All I want is a nice car I can drive and the LEAF definitely delivers on that. As for capacity, while it's true the battery isn't warranted against gradual capacity loss, it IS warranted for 10yr/100,000mi against FAILURE (including sudden capacity loss).

    I'm sure you're aware that ALL rechargeable batteries loose capacity over time. How quickly usually depends on how many full charge/discharge cycles. Nissan can't say what capacity your battery will have after a given time because they don't know how you're going to drive. If you only drive 10 miles a day, your battery will last much longer than someone who drives 200 miles a day since they'll be doing a full charge/discharge twice a day, versus you doing it every 10 days. I believe 60% capacity is a typical number at which point a battery would be considered in need of replacement and it would be nice if they told us that so we could do the math ourselves. Temperature also plays a key factor, so drive times and charge times come into play too. There's far more variability here than with a gas engine. But even those lose horsepower and mpg over time - does your car manufacturer guarantee those numbers? Don't think so...
  6. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    (Not a Leaf owner...)


    I thought it was 8 years/100K miles as I'd always heard and is listed at Nissan LEAF Warranty Information | Nissan USA.

    I was at the Tesla showroom in Seattle last year and heard a car with its coolant circulating the whole time as it was sitting there and got the explanation about the car maintaining battery temp.

    That said, from the above, in the back of my mind, I've always had some concerns that Nissan might've under-engineered battery cooling/thermal management because they'd originally planned (or at least kept publicly talking about) leasing the batteries, prior to any announcement of battery warranty length. For all we know, they might've gone to the point of no return and had to ship and just slap on a warranty, while being unable to lease the batteries.

    Time will time how they hold up. I personally wouldn't be surprised if we see large capacity losses or failures from people who live in very hot areas w/no shaded parking where the cars bake outside w/a full or pretty fully battery. How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries – Battery University claims that high temps in combination w/full charge are very bad for whatever chemistry of li-ion battery they tested.

    For those leasing and not intending to buy at the end of the lease, I suppose those folks don't need to care much. I haven't run the lease vs. buy numbers (since leasing terminology is all Greek to me), but it sure seems a lot less risky to lease.
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  7. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    This battery warranty issue is tricky. Hard driving and deep recurrent DODs are going to take their toll on the battery, no doubt. I'm fine with letting the driver pay for aggressive driving habits and can understand Nissan not wanting to warrant every LEAF for driving extremes. The flip side though is that uncertainty is present how 25-75 percentile use batteries will perform, or finding that Nissan denies coverage to a median use battery that is still within 99th percentile degradation.

    One possibility is using Nissan's demand that the battery be checked every 12 months or so to trend the battery. If degradation accelerates it could imply defect.
  8. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    Tesla, BTW, has three modes: Range, Standard, and Performance. In Range mode the battery charges to 100% and discharges to zero or near zero, with the warning that this will shorten battery life. Range mode also limits power to 50%. Performance mode maintains a higher battery temperature, to allow the batteries to supply higher current, also with the warning that this will shorten battery life. Standard mode charges the battery to only 90% SoC, and prevents it going below 10%, and maintains it at a cooler temperature than Performance, both of which measures prolong battery life. Batteries are actively heated and actively cooled as needed to maintain desired temperature.

    I'll use performance mode seldom if ever. The car has more power than I expect to be able to handle in standard mode. Once I'm comfortable with the car I may try performance mode once to see if it really feels any different, and if it does I may use it if I want to impress someone. I've been told that passengers often scream when you floor it. But I'm not buying it for the zero-to-sixty time. I'm buying it for the range, and because it's electric, and because I gave up on Nissan ever shipping "my" Leaf. And because it's a truly beautiful car, especially the bright "very orange" color.
  9. Southern Dad

    Southern Dad Active Member

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    I don't have a Leaf but in my life I've owned one electric vehicle (S-10 EV) and I've leased one (GM EV-1).

    The EV-1 Gen II was a great experience. My battery seemed to have no degradation over the entire two year period. I always got great range, better than 85-90 miles. I was sad when the lease ended.

    The S-10 was a bad experience. I bought it used at a govt auction and really never got much use out of it. The range was around 30 miles.

    My hope is that the Leaf batteries hold up like the EV-1. I'm waiting to see how owners are doing after the first couple years before I consider that route.
  10. rainnw

    rainnw New Member

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    No cooling? I am confused where you are getting your data from.

    The battery temperature is regulated by a fluid coolant loop, a sort of radiator and a fan. You can usually only hear this engage during charging. I suspect a quick charge, however, generates a massive amount of heat, and this is probably where the system is really necessary.
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  11. GasFreeLeaf

    GasFreeLeaf New Member

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    The Leaf has exceeded my expectations in every way, especially range and recharge time. I recharge at home with the provided portable 120v J-1772 EVSE and find that the estimated and published recharge time is about 1/4 less in reality. They recommend to charge at 80% to extend battery life. That gives me 90 miles in economy mode.
  12. psusi

    psusi Junior Member

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    Not according to all of the articles I have read about it. They all have stated that the Leaf battery has no active thermal regulation. Do you have a source saying otherwise?



    Obviously if you start with 25% charge left in the battery, it is only going to take about 75% as long to charge.



    How does 80% of the stated 100 mile max range equal 90 miles?
  13. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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  14. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    I think rainnw is thinking of the Tesla, which has the coolant loop and the fans & radiator.

    I'm not surprised that GasFreeLeaf gets 90 miles range. The Leaf gets 100 miles on the LA4 cycle, but driving gently in eco mode people have gotten significantly more. So 90 miles in eco mode after an 80% charge is entirely within reason.

    The Tesla Roadster has been on the roads for a couple of years now, and has had no battery issues. The batteries heat up, and the cooling system cools them down. The system also heats them in cold weather. Note that ANY battery will heat up under hard use, and the Roadster, with its zero-to-sixty of 3.9 seconds, works its batteries hard. It also has very hard regen. Drive the Roadster like a Leaf and the batteries will run a lot cooler.

    Both are excellent cars. The Roadster has stood the test of two years on the roads. It remains to be seen how the Leaf's batteries will hold up. Apparently they are of a chemistry that tolerates heat better, but charging and discharging a battery is always going to generate heat.

    Note: The Tesla is a sports car, not a race car. Racing it will generate more heat and make the cooling system work harder. The system will shut itself down if the batteries become too hot.
  15. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    Same way people get 1000 miles out of the 500 'mile max range' Prius.
  16. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Hi Daniel,
    Lot's of folks were torqued out about delivery delays and fairness perception. Personally, we really really really had to work hard, to remain at the front of the line, and still we got bumped around. We've never run multi national automotive corporations, nor their logistics, so it's hard to say how much better things could go, theoretically, if at all ... especially with a brand new product. I figured it might not be until 2012 before we got our delivery, only we'd purposed to be patient, regardless. Now that it's July, there have been more Leafs manufactured/sold than all other brands ever sold (unless you count leased/crushed EV's). If some other company could do it better, they already would have. But no one has. That speaks volumes as how complex things likely are. And all this production has been in spite of the devastating 8.9 earth quake - tidal wave - 18,000+ dead - electric power out - supply chain chaos, etc.

    In any even let me opine to your other points.

    - As for the Leaf's traction pack warranty (at least in California, which requires certain environmental standards), ours is for 100,000 miles, just like RAV4-EV's had ... or for 8 years from date of purchase ... which is 3 years longer than the RAV4-EV pack warranty. I read through our warranty and it wasn't 4 pages long - as it pertained to the traction pack. Maybe WA is different from CA. ... I don't know.
    - Active cooling: As others point out, your concern seems to "Focus" (point intended) on liquid cooling ... as Ford's EV will have. Note; no price yet stated on the focus ev. Liquid cooling is more complex, and in part, that's why the Transit (Ford's mini van EV) costs OVER $57,000. Part of the huge cost is because it's EV guts are made by another company, and it's not a high volume item. Even if you knock off $7,000 for that ... the Focus MAY cost a whole lot more than the Leaf ... making it like the Volt ... not affordable for most. Even so - liquid cooling is NOT a silver bullet. Ford's EV battery chemistries MAY be crappier quality compared to the Leaf ... and thus REQUIRE liquid cooling, just to make due. it's too early to tell. Nissan was the only manufacturer back in the 1990's to make an EV with Lithium (in it's altra). It was a disaster, and they pulled them back from the Lessees faster than most other manufacturers. Still, that experience (failure) likely gave them a great foundational knowledge base.
    - No explanation about why no liquid cooling? Do they need to explain? Those why say liquid is de facto best are the folks using or planning to use it ... but might that simply mean those folks HAVE to use it? ... ie, a battery chemistry more prone to be less robust? Yes. But even so, Nissan does explain their traction pack choise. When asked, Nissan has stated the Leaf pack doesn't need liquid cooling. The proof is in the pudding my friend. Many Leafs are now traveling the Arizona summers (109 - 113 degree Fahrenheit) daily with no issues - apparently just like Nissan expected. AZ residents (reporting on mynissanleaf dotcom) say their temp gauges show only a couple extra bars ... well below the red line. We've had a few mid 90 degree days here in So Cal this summer already, and I have yet to see the temp gauge hit any thing higher than the half way mark (only one bar - above the usual place) - and one time, that was pulling a grade, to 4,100 feet in the heat.
    - Lastly - "refuse to guarantee how long their battery would last"
    Here's my warranty:


    See, here's the trick. EPA rates the battery (average) for about 100 miles. EPA requires the battery warranty to extend to 100,000. The Leaf's 100,000 battery life/warranty is inextricably linked to EPA emissions standard. So - should the charge drop down to 80% ... 50% ... 25% ... or less ... and you bought the Leaf 10 months ago ... 8,500 mile ago ... you ARE good for a remedy ... just like a traction pack in a prius that dumps 25% or 50% of its "EPA RATED" capacity prior to warranty expiration. Does Nissan want to advertise that to a world full of abusive drivers? Well ... if you read between the lines ... put the pieces together - you can understand that all the elements are there to make a claim, should the Leaf traction pack come up short.

    Hope that helps - fwiw

    .
  17. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    "See, here's the trick. EPA rates the battery (average) for about 100 miles. EPA requires the battery warranty to extend to 100,000. The Leaf's 100,000 battery life/warranty is inextricably linked to EPA emissions standard. So - should the charge drop down to 80% ... 50% ... 25% ... or less ... and you bought the Leaf 10 months ago ... 8,500 mile ago ... you ARE good for a remedy ... just like a traction pack in a prius that dumps 25% or 50% of its "EPA RATED" capacity prior to warranty expiration. Does Nissan want to advertise that to a world full of abusive drivers? Well ... if you read between the lines ... put the pieces together - you can understand that all the elements are there to make a claim, should the Leaf traction pack come up short."

    I am not following you here Hill. Are you saying that you think a valid battery claim warranty will be present if it degrades faster than 1%/1000 miles or ~ 1%/month ?
  18. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    I'm saying that everything you hear from your dealer is not necessarily the way it is. Take your maintenance schedule for example. The dealer TELLS you that you need to come in for maintenance or replace items at 3,000 or 4,000 or 12,000 miles for "warranty items" when in fact many items don't need replacement for MUCH longer. See here, for example:
    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-...70-what-services-you-need-what-you-don-t.html
    Ergo - NOT 1%/1,000 miles. No, the EPA requires a stated life expectancy, and they state Leaf's traction pack range is (appx) 100 miles for a duration of 100,000 miles or 8 years. Violate any of the proscribed "no-no's" (in post #16 ) above though, and all bets are off. That's as straight forward as it can get.

    How many time have you read a warranty that's disclaiming everything and anything (incidentals, consequentials, implied warranties of merchantability, fit for the particular purpose, etc)? Only some states say otherwise, contrary to a manufacturer's disclaimer. So, why do manufacturers try to write up warranty disclaimers if they're invalid? simple. Some people won't bother to put in a valid claim.

    .
  19. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    ^^ Unless the customer plans to document a battery defect by demonstrating less than 100 miles by standardized testing on a LF4 (is that the correct name?) cycle, I am not convinced. Hopefully Nissan will be reasonable, although that is certainly in the eye of the beholder, and customers will show up with unreasonable demands and threats of negative PR if their demands are not met.

    As I said before -- tricky.
  20. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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