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Nissan Leaf battery degrades quickly in hot climates

Judging from comments received on other posts, many owners of the Nissan Leaf all-electric car love their vehicles. But some Leaf owners in Phoenix are less sanguine. These owners are experiencing a great decrease in range over time for their cars.

Leaf owners in Phoenix noticed that upon full battery charge, their dashboard charge indicator showed a decreasing capacity. According to hybridCARS website range per battery charge has dropped from the advertised 100 miles to as low as 44 miles.

At first Nissan claimed it was a fault of the dashboard gauge, but that proved not to be the case. The lithium ion battery was actually losing charging capacity over time. (See here for a detailed discussion on the physical and chemical processes which cause battery capacity reduction.) Tests show that the battery “ages” more than twice as fast in hot climates compared to cool climates.

Last weekend, a group of Phoenix Leaf owners decided to conduct their own tests. Green Car Report described the test as follows (abridged, see original article for full report):

The test, organized by Leaf owner and electric car advocate Tony Williams, took place over the past weekend in Phoenix, Arizona.

Using twelve different Nissan Leafs with varying amounts of battery capacity bar loss, Williams and his team of volunteers meticulously recorded each car’s state of charge versus distance traveled on a pre-planned route, using the popular third-party GID state of charge meter for added accuracy.

In order to eliminate as much noise from the data as possible, each driver was given a set of strict test conditions to follow, including no use of air conditioning, and traveling at a pre-set speed where possible.
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