Battery capacity loss — the usually slow, gradual reduction in how much energy a battery can store — is an everyday fact of electric vehicle ownership. In most situations however, it happens so gradually over time that you probably won’t notice it, even if your car covers large distances every year.
More rapid capacity loss, which is often caused by excess heat, is more of a problem and is covered under your electric vehicle’s warranty to ensure you’re not left with a premature ageing battery pack.
But what happens if you’re an electric car owner whose battery pack has suffered dramatic battery capacity loss and your car’s maker has agreed to replace your battery free of charge under its battery warranty program?
Over the past few years, we’ve heard of the occasional electric car undergoing battery pack replacement, either because of manufacturing defects, recalls, or premature capacity loss. But we’ve never seen a video explaining exactly what happens — until now.
Enter Californian Jonathan Stewart, whose 2011 Nissan LEAF’s lithium-ion battery had suffered some serious capacity degradation after just over 47,000 miles. Under Nissan’s retrospective Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty from last year, Nissan LEAF battery packs are warrantied against a capacity loss of 9 bars (approximately 70 per cent of the battery pack’s original capacity) for a period of 60 months or 60,000 miles. With eight bars of capacity remaining, translating to just 46 miles of range on a full charge, Jonathan’s LEAF well and truly qualified.
Thankfully, Jonathan documented the process as best he could in a very informative YouTube video.
While Jonathan wasn’t able to watch the process take place due to health and safety concerns, he did manage to talk to some of the service staff who were responsible for the swap.
Apparently, his replacement battery pack — a brand new, 2015 model year ‘lizard’ battery pack — arrived from Japan in a specially-designed package. Built with updated battery chemistry, the lizard packs are supposed to be more resistant to extreme heat, meaning they don’t lose their battery capacity as quickly in hot climates.
As the parts manager in the video explains, the battery pack for Jonathan’s car came without the external battery case, meaning the service centre had to follow some pretty careful high-voltage precautions when unpacking the battery.
Once unpacked, the battery was then inserted into the battery case from Jonathan’s car — after service technicians had removed the faulty pack, of course — and the new pack then fitted onto Jonathan’s car. As his car was a 2011 model, Jonathan said his car needed a special retrofit package to make the new battery fit, since Nissan subtly changed the battery pack design back in 2013 when it began production of the 2013 model year LEAF.
Impressively, the service centre were able to replace the entire battery pack in less than a day, and Jonathan reports his new battery pack has made his beloved LEAF feel like a brand new car. Range is also far improved, back up to triple-digit figures on the car’s guessometer.
It’s also worth noting that while Nissan’s battery warranty only requires it to replace a low-capacity battery with one that has a battery capacity greater than 70 percent, Jonathan was treated to a brand new battery pack — something we’d guess Nissan will want to continue to keep its current LEAF owners happy.
And while there are very few LEAF owners in the world who have sent their cars in for a battery replacement, we’re happy to see that technical staff are well-versed, and well-trained, to make sure if your car needs this transplant it will be as quick and painless as possible.
Have you sent your car in for a battery replacement under warranty? How was your experience? Leave your stories in the Comments below.
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