Some hot Arizona weather is cooling some Nissan Leaf owners' enthusiasm for their electric vehicles.
Nissan is addressing complaints from five Arizona owners of Leafs who say the electric vehicles are losing battery capacity at a faster rate than advertised, reported KPHO, CBS's Phoenix affiliate.
Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning, told KPHO that the automaker is investigating complaints from drivers who say the region's heat is draining the EVs' battery capacity. One Arizona driver said his single-charge driving range is down to 44 miles from about 90 miles a year ago, while another says that three of the car's 12 battery-capacity indicator lights are already out, according to KPHO. The forums at MyNissanLeaf.com indicate similar complaints have been recorded in other parts of Arizona, Texas and California. A table of battery capacity losses is being kept online here. Nissan North America Director of Product Planning Mark Perry said in a recent video, "Heat is definitely not a friend of batteries. But I'm talking about severe 130-, 140-degree Fahrenheit kind of heat... Don't park your Nissan Leaf – or any electric vehicle – where it's going to be more than 120 or 130 degrees." We contacted Nissan regarding the issue of reduced capacity in hot climes and received this response from spokesman John Schilling:
Last month, Nissan reiterated that the Leaf battery should have about 80 percent of its original capacity after five years of use, and stating that any capacity-deterioration incidents were "isolated." It's interesting to note that the issue of the Leaf battery's lack of an active thermal management solution was brought up way back in January of 2010. At the time, Nissan's Perry said, "We don't need thermal management in the U.S. ... We've gone on record saying that the pack has a 70 to 80 percent capacity after 10 years."
"We are aware of the handful of customers that are concerned; we are studying their individual situations and experiences."
Regardless, such complaints spell bad news for the Leaf, whose sales have lagged this year as the Japanese automaker prepares to move domestic production to its Tennessee plant. Through June, Nissan sold 3,148 Leafs in the U.S. in 2012, down 19 percent from year-to-date numbers for 2011.
As you'll see in the video below, however, Nissan's warranty only covers the output of the Leaf's battery pack, not its capacity. Where that leaves heat-drenched Leaf owners remains to be seen. Scroll down for videos from both Nissan and CBS5.
Related Gallery2012 Nissan Leaf
CBS 5 - KPHO
Autoblog's Jeremy Korzeniewski contributed to this report.