Nissan Leaf’s Batteries Getting Upgraded Warranty

Nissan has announced that they will improve warranty coverage for their Leaf model’s battery systems and will also offer to replace some batteries that are performing poorly.

The decision comes as the company closes a year of disappointing sales and complaints by US Customers about the Leaf’s battery capacity.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Japanese automaker will repair or replace the electric car’s lithium-ion batteries, as long as they fall under a specific capacity. They will also expand the warranty currently offered for the batteries to cover for lost capacity for 60,000 miles of the first five years of the car’s life.

In a post on Thursday, Executive Vice President Andy Palmer wrote:

“Our actions today are intended to put customer minds at ease regarding the topic of battery capacity loss.”

The changes made for Nissan’s Leaf electric car will apply around the world. The company will notify owners of the decision in the coming markets. The program will roll out in the US next spring.

The move is also likely the result of the Japanese car company falling behind on its goal to double the sales of the Leaf in its current fiscal year, which ends March 2013. Sales of the car in the US have been especially weak.

Auto Week notes that this is the first time battery life has been spelled out specifically in the Nissan Leaf’s overall warranty. Nissan has made it no secret that the Nissan Leaf’s battery will act much like the battery in a cell phone, computer, or other electronic device .It will slowly lose its ability to hold a full charge over time.

With normal driving of the vehicle, owners can expect battery loss of about 20 percent in five years. But some owners in Phoenix, Arizona have claimed that the capacity loss is happening much faster than anticipated. The complaints generate concern for would-be customers around the US.

Despite the fact that the owners in Phoenix were found to be putting twice as many miles on the vehicles as “normal use” drivers, consumers are still concerned. The new warranty coverage will likely not make a difference for normal Nissan Leaf drivers.

David Reuter, chief spokesman for Nissan in North America stated that the warranty is more for those who experience extreme summer heat and heavier-than-normal driving, both of which may result in battery deterioration that is more rapid than expected. Reuter added:

“This is really to give owners confidence in the battery. The vast majority of Leaf drivers simply won’t see that kind of capacity loss.”

Palmer also stated that the warranty for the Leaf’s battery is the first of its kind. He added that the company is the “only manufacturer in the automotive industry to provide limited warranty coverage for battery capacity loss for electric vehicles.”