Back in 2010 when the Nissan LEAF first launched, critics of electric cars claimed that the LEAF’s lithium-ion battery pack would last just three years before it needed a costly replacement in excess of $10,000+, making the LEAF hatchback something of a automotive paperweight in the process.
Yet after more than four and a half years of being on the market, Nissan says the majority of LEAFs on the road are still operating with their original battery packs. And while some LEAF owners in hot U.S. states like Arizona and California have been given replacement battery packs for their cars under warranty due to premature battery ageing in extreme summer heat, the number of LEAFs in Europe which have been given full battery replacements account for less than 0.01 percent of all LEAFs sold there.
To date, more than 35,000 LEAF electric hatches have been registered on the roads of Europe, but as Nissan detailed earlier this week, only three cars so far in Europe have been given battery replacements.
To celebrate that fact, it enlisted the help of our good friend and Transport Evolved regular Robert Llewellyn, who tracked down the very Nissan LEAF that BBC Top Gear famously ran flat during a filming stunt in Lincolnshire, England. No-longer part of the Nissan press fleet, the car is owned and driven daily by London resident Rebecca Pinero, who purchased the infamous car second-hand without knowing its heritage.
“I didn’t know at first, but I found out after I bought it,” she said. “As soon as I found out, I went and watched the episode.”
But despite its past, Pinero says she hasn’t noticed any loss in capacity or range, despite it being four years old.
“The facts speak for themselves,” said Jean-Pierre Diernaz, director of electric vehicles for Nissan Europe. “The rate of battery faults in our vehicles is negligible, even the most ardent critic cannot argue with that.”
Since late last year, Nissan Europe has offered customers with Nissan LEAF hatchbacks or Nissan e-NV200 electric vans the chance to purchase a brand-new replacement battery pack for their car for just €5,000, including a €1,000 rebate for the old pack.
To date however, no-one has purchased a replacement pack.
Here at Transport Evolved, we’ve two 2011 model-year Nissan LEAFs in our staff fleet, plus the 2011 Nissan LEAF owned by Robert.
Hiro, our highest-mileage LEAF at 72,300 miles, has lost approximately 20 percent battery capacity since being new in March 2011, yet can still manage a range of between 50 and 73 miles per charge, depending on weather conditions and road type. The all-black 2011 Nissan LEAF owned by Mark has covered more than 47,800 miles, and can easily manage 60 miles per charge, with 70+ possible with careful driving.
Do you have a Nissan LEAF? How is your car’s battery pack faring? Leave your reports in the Comments below.
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