2012 nissan leaf red with palm tree

Ouch. There's now some independent analysis that says the Nissan Leaf wilts in the heat.

Led by Leaf owner Tony Williams, a group of Nissan EV owners tested a dozen Leafs in Phoenix last weekend. The group put the Leafs on a pre-planned route at pre-determined speeds to measure their fully charged ranges and to find out if extensive heat has led to premature degradation of the car's battery capacity, according to posts on the My Nissan Leaf forums and Green Car Reports.

The group found that half the Leafs tested had, at "full" charge, battery-capacity indicators showing just 10 out of the original 12 bars and averaged slightly less than the 73-mile single-charge range certified by the EPA. One Leaf had just eight bars showing – indicating about a third of the battery capacity was gone – and went just 59 miles before petering out. And one Leaf, purchased new only a month ago, was already missing a battery-capacity bar.

Leaf owners in Arizona started making noise this summer about how the desert heat was causing their cars to lose battery capacity quicker than Nissan originally said. The automaker, which hasn't commented on the most recent Arizona results, previously estimated that the Leaf's battery pack will keep as much as 80 percent of its capacity after a decade of use.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn recently told The Wall Street Journal that the company is working on a second-generation Leaf battery that will be cheaper than the current one. That could spell good news for a model whose U.S. sales through August were down 31 percent from a year earlier.

AutoblogGreen inquired with Nissan about the Phoenix test, and spokeswoman Katherine Zachary offered the following:

Nissan has been working hard to understand some Leaf customers' concerns in the desert southwest. We've tested a number of individual vehicles and will be contacting those owners to discuss their individual results in the near term. We also anticipate having more information to release to the wider Arizona customer base soon. We are taking Phoenix customer concerns seriously and are working hard to ensure their full satisfaction.

In other words, there will be more on this topic down the road.
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