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USA: Nissan addresses Leaf battery woes, customer communication shortcomings

While the firestorm of controversy over the woes regarding the battery in the Nissan Leaf continues to rage, the company has stepped up to the inferno with a couple buckets of PR water and a promise to bring out a very large hose. According to a statement from Carla Bailo, Nissan Americas Senior vice president of research and development, everything is cool with the Leaf’s battery. Mostly.

Bailo, who is, incidentally, also a Leaf driver, placed an open letter to the Leaf community on the MyNissanLeaf discussion forum. It makes two keys points:

The Nissan Leafs inspected in Arizona are operating to specification and their battery capacity loss over time is consistent with their usage and operating environment. No battery defects were found.
A small number of Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona are experiencing a greater than average battery capacity loss due to their unique usage cycle, which includes operating mileages that are higher than average in a high-temperature environment over a short period of time.

Nissan also announces the creation of an independent global advisory board – to be headed by well-known EV advocate Chelsea Sexton – to help the company with customer communications and advise them on strategy.

As one might expect from a diverse and passionate group of owners who have just been witness to some worrying independent testing, the response has been mixed. Some owners feel that their battery’s capacity has been diminished more than what Nissan claims is normal and want to be “made whole.” Others have expressed relief that the automaker appears to be taking their concerns seriously and becoming more involved with the owner community.

Nissan is considering a series of town hall meetings to address the issue.

The thread has also been addressed by Nissan’s head of global communications, Jeff Kuhlman, who announced that Nissan vice president Andy Palmer will take questions on the issue at the Paris Motor Show this week and that Nissan is considering a series of town hall meetings.


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