Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona say heat is destroying their cars’ batteries

2012 Nissan LeafThe Nissan Leaf may be able to drive quickly in reverse, but it may not be able to handle intense summer heat. Several Leaf owners in Arizona say their cars are losing range, CBS5-TV Phoenix reports, and they think the heat is to blame.

One Leaf owner said that when they bought their car a year ago it returned 90 miles on one charge, enough to get them to work and back. Now the Leaf will only go 44 miles on a single charge.

In addition, owners have seen two or three of the 12 lights on the Leafs’ battery capacity gauges stay off, even with a full charge. That indicates that the battery is no longer holding the extra charge.

There are 400 Leafs on the road in Arizona, and five owners have complained of reduced battery range so far. They say their Leafs have lost 30 percent of their battery capacity, despite impeccable maintenance, proper driving techniques, and a clean bill of health from Nissan dealers.

According to Nissan, a battery should not lose 30 percent of its charge until the car is seven years old. However, director of product planning Mark Perry said the company does not consider the Arizona complaints a problem, although it is investigating them.

“We want to learn more about what’s going on, but it’s something we’ve just been made aware of, and we don’t have any conclusions yet,” Perry told CBS5. He said owners who are having problems should have their dealers call a regional technical service manager.

In a separate Youtube video about the Leaf and its battery, Perry did say that, “Heat is definitely not a friend of batteries,” but that only temperatures of 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit could damage them. Things haven’t been that hot in Arizona, although highs of 100 to 110 degrees have been observed pretty consistently since June.

Nissan says a new Leaf will drive “up to 100 miles” on a full charge, but the EPA pegs its range at 73 miles. The car has a 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.