Depending on temperature profile, driving style and a whole list of other factors, my personal expectation of BEV Li ion battery life without TMS (battery Thermal Management System) over the range of US conditions and drivers is from about 500 to about 4000 full battery cycles to 70% capacity. This is from 37,500 miles to 300,000 miles, based on 75 miles per full battery cycle. A few batteries will be outside this range. I think that this is a very reasonable expectation, and is supported by personal Li ion experience and by journal papers. One might argue this issue at length, and perhaps it should be. I'm just not going to do that now.
I know some people seemed to like this post but I had to sit back and say... really? This is like saying: "Today I predict I will walk between 50 feet and 10 miles." Or, "The sun shall rise sometime between 2AM and noon." While it is most likely true it is also a given and does nothing to help perspective EV owners. Yes, batteries are greatly affected by how much you do or do not abuse them but in this case Nissan promised us the battery was protected and we could not damage it. With such protection eliminating the extreme cases it is absolutely not reasonable to to expect the battery to give out before most cars would be out of their bumper-to-bumper warranty!
Reality, at least so far, seems to be matching my expectations. While a faster decline in gid count has been seen, it is not clear how much of this is a software issue and how much is a real capacity decrease. It seems to be at least a little of both. I may be a little optimistic, but that's my own personal issue, I don't expect Nissan or anyone else to cover the risks I chose to take. A new technology is a risk. I know that, everyone should know that. I took that risk with my eyes open.
Most technology is new in some fashion so I don't buy this excuse. A company must stand behind their products. There is an expectation that companies do the proper research and testing to ensure that some reasonable level of quality is met. There is an expectation that products can be used for their purpose. The risk we all took is: 1) can we live with a 80ish-mile range vehicle and 2) will the cost of replacing the battery 5-10 years from now be far less than it is today. We did not
take a risk that you could not use the car in natural activities for a car--driving it in the rain for example. In fact Nissan bent over backward with ads, examples, and testimonials that the Leaf was just a regular car that happened to be powered by electricity.
This is not to be confused with natural limitations. Driving the Leaf 80MPH will get you far less range than at 60MPH. That was clearly communicated and accepted. Driving in hot weather, however, is a natural activity. If they told us such heat would reduce the battery life from 10 years to 8, I think that is reasonable in the same way that driving in northern states causes more body wear because of the ice and salted roads. But we are seeing 10 years down to potentially 3 if the degradation does not level off.
The information needed to make an informed purchase was out there. There was an excess of optimism, there is now an excess of pessimism. There is a point to having a BEV like the Leaf (Li ion with no TMS) in much of the country.
The information was faulty. Nissan was pretty careful not to make any promises on capacity but they did imply that the car would retain 80% after 5-10 years--another overly broad range but far short of the 1-2 years we are seeing. While I agree there is an excess of pessimism and like some I believe Nissan will set this right because they care about their name, I also think much of the loud complaining is justified because a car is a major purchase and one your whole livelihood depends on. People naturally get really upset when things go wrong with something like that.
Yes, a full court legal press might maximize your payout, and will surely maximize the lawyer's pay. But is that a good thing? If it convinces other car companies to not offer a comparable BEV, is it a bad thing? I guess the answer depends a little on point of view, and on the time period, and what costs you consider.
This idea of not pressuring or punishing Nissan "for the good of the EV movement" is ridiculous. You do not help a person or a cause by coddling their weaknesses. All great successes have had their failures which have helped in the long run. EVs will learn from their failures and grow better as a result. If the worst should happen and Nissan and the Leaf go down in a fiery lawsuit this won't discourage a competing company from making an EV but it will teach them not to repeat the same mistakes. And that is all good.
Is it lawsuit time? Of course not yet. But one should not be afraid of that remedy and we should not be critical of anyone who goes that route. The complaint is legitimate and some kind of restitution is most definitely in order. Hopefully Nissan will recognize this and do the right thing.
Thank you SierraQ, for this post. I couldn't have said it better.