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Something interesting came together recently. Just looking at what Nissan has done with their Battery Warranty, Capacity Warranty, Battery Lease Program and most recent Certified Pre-Owned Leaf Program, it became clear that the consumer who actually buys a Nissan Leaf and tries to keep it past 5 years or 60k miles will get screwed.

Let's start with a little back story.

Ford, GM and Tesla have done a great job with designing their Thermal Battery Temperature Management Systems for the Focus Electric, Volt and Model S. It's a more expensive temperature management system, but it ensures the long life of the battery.

But Nissan went the cheap route with the Leaf by using fans. Consumers complained about battery capacity, so Nissan offered a workaround for cold climates by adding a more powerful heater to keep the battery from freezing. Then owners in hot climates about more battery capacity loss. But Nissan decided not to make any improvements with the battery temperature management system, but to replace the batteries that drop below 9 bars(80%) capacity, and kicked off a 5 year 60k mile Battery Capacity Warranty to manage the situation and owners in hot climates, stating that a drop in capacity to 9 bars is acceptable and not a battery default or problem.

Nissan calls this their 'long term revenue stream'.

The result more still looking to drive the Leaf just leased it, not wanting to have the responsibility of owning and maintaining the battery.

The Battery Lease-ONLY Program

But many who could not qualify for the lease had to buy. Which is what Nissan was banking on. Which is why Nissan kicked off their Battery Lease-ONLY Program. Where Leaf owners with batteries older than 5 years that lose more than 80% capacity(around 60 miles) and below can now lease a 'refurbished' battery with a max of 80% capacity, 9 bars or about 60 miles for $100 a month. With no option to buy the battery. Very much like leasing furniture or home electronics indefinitely.

So Leaf owners who thought they would pay off their Leaf, and then drive with no car payment, no lease payment and just cheap electricity for years to come, have a surprise coming. Which means instead of paying $199/mo to lease a new Leaf, now the old 5-10 year old Leaf will still cost $100/mo FOREVER, or as long as the owner want's a battery in the car.

Certified Pre-Owned Leaf

Next, Nissan offers their Certified Pre-Owned Leaf Program for those who might want to buy or lease a used Leaf. Nissan does check the cars out, but for the vehicle to qualify it has to be less than 5years old and have less than 60k miles and have at least 9 bars or 80% battery capacity. Nissan is NOT offering any additional warranty on the battery capacity. Most would expect Nissan would restart the battery capacity warranty for another 5 years or 60k miles, but that's not happening.

Which means the poor sucker who actually bought a Leaf, and does not dump their Leaf before the 5 years or before battery capacity drops to 9 bars, or who buys a used Leaf already with a loss in capacity, will soon become part of the Nissan Long Term Revenue Stream/Battery Lease-ONLY Program.

Not only will the new owner be making the car payment for the vehicle, but also a never ending $100/mo lease payment for the battery.

The Competition

On the other hand, Ford, GM, Tesla and launching in 2014, VW, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, BMW EVs will have thermal battery management systems to protect and extend the battery life, with no need for a separate capacity warranty.

Which means that EV owners who buy the Focus Electric compared with the Leaf, will continue to maintain higher residual valuers. KBB already dropped Leaf residual values down $2,500 this month. Consumers will also be able to purchase a used Focus Electric with more confidence, knowing the battery pack has been durability tested in Taxi cabs for over 200k miles. Along with Ford not having a separate revenue stream tied to battery guaranteed/expected battery failure, and a plan to rent the owner a battery, as long as the want to drive the car that they own.

The Coverage

But what I find interesting about this chain of events with the Nissan Leaf, is the related EV, Plug-In and Hybrid blogs choose to ignore the impact of what Nissan is setting up, that will have a negative impact on the EV consumer and the industry. But instead, the related blogs try and gloss over each 'program' as if they are stand alone. Even when their readers are beginning to connect the dots and voicing concern.

Either way, it's a curious turn of events, and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the end for Nissan.

219 Posts
I have not ever read about anyone who needed a battery replacement from anyone on FIN or GMI. Has anyone on other blogs been talking about replacements needed
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