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USA: Recent Trend Sees LEAF Owners in Harsh Climates Selling Their Cars

Almost two years after Nissan triumphantly introduced the first mass-market electric vehicle to the American market, there are signs the car is in serious trouble. The problem isn’t so much disappointing sales numbers—few people expected a technology as radically different as the LEAF’s to take off overnight. Rather, there is growing customer dissatisfaction in some areas that threatens Nissan’s efforts to grow demand for battery electric vehicles in the United States.

At the heart of the backlash lie two issues. First, despite pledges from Nissan that the LEAF would carry a range of “about 100 miles,” for most drivers, it simply isn’t true. To be fair, the EPA debunked the 100-mile range claim before the first LEAF had been delivered, rating the car at 73 miles using official testing procedures. Still, some drivers in colder climates have found that decreased battery efficiency drops range significantly below the 73-mile mark during the winter—enough to render the car unsuitable for their needs.

The second gripe—one that many owners in warmer climates like Texas and Arizona have become more and more vocal about over the past few months—is much more troubling. On web forums like MyNissanLeaf.com, dozens of users have experienced battery degradation early on in the life of their vehicles, causing them to “lose bars” of charge capacity. In nearly all of these cases, hot weather is suspected as the major contributing factor.
Fears Stoked by Lackluster Response

Most owners experiencing these problems expressed dissatisfaction over Nissan’s handling of the issue. In several cases, LEAF drivers have been told that the battery loss is “normal,” and as recently as last week, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer denied to an Australian newspaper that a problem even exists.
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