One of the oldest electric cars out there available for purchase is the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf started in the US as model year 2011.
The Leaf might be the most well-know EV out there.
What the Leaf is not really known for is the fact that the Leaf offers limited thermal management of its battery pack.
What this means is that it does not do a good job of making sure its battery pack stays around 70F, which is the temperature at which Lithium Ion batteries give their best performance and also live the longest.
As soon as you go colder, the battery's range will start to be limited. Conversely, the higher the temperature of the battery pack, and the more internal damage the battery pack will get. The more damage it gets and the faster the battery will lose capacity, over time, to hold a charge.
Because of this, the more serious EV makers have been incorporating mechanisms to heat up and cool down the battery through circulating coolant fluids that can be heated or cooled to achieve the desired effet. Chevrolet, Tesla and BMW are using such mechanisms.
The Leaf battery pack is not completely left to its surrounding weather conditions, it has a battery warmer to warm its batteries when it gets colder than -1F but it stops when the battery gets to 14F. Far from the cozy 70F batteries want to be at.
What is al lot worse though is that the battery is not actively cooled at all by any mechanism. Nissan relies on the outside weather to cool the battery!!!!
Because of this, to prevent premature battery degradation, Nissan offers the following advice to its new Nissan Leaf owners. Here is an excerpt:
• Avoid storing a vehicle in temperaturesbelow −13°F (−25°C) for more than seven days.
• Avoid leaving your vehicle for more than 14 days where the Li-ion battery availablecharge gauge reaches a zero or near zero(state of charge).
• Allow the vehicle and Li-ion battery to cool down after use before charging.
• Park/store your vehicle in cool locations out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.
• Avoid sustained high battery temperatures (caused, for example, by exposure to very high ambient temperatures or extending highway driving with multiple quick charges [if so equipped]) .
• Use the normal charging or trickle charging methods to charge the Li-ion battery and minimize the use of public Fast Charge or Quick Charger.
• Moderate driving.
• Use of ECO mode
If you read the above correctly, this means that Leaf owners need to use ECO mode, drive moderately, not do extended highway driving with multiple quick charges, not use Fast charge and...allow the car to cool down before charging it, in order to maxime the longevity of their battery!
This is pretty limiting. Imagine coming home from work in the summer and having to let the car cool down before plugging it in. And what is the use of quick charging if you should not use it very much, especially after highway driving!
Nissan's omission of a proper battery cooling system is imposing the above restrictions on Leaf owners in order for them to have decent battery life from their car.
For one of the oldest maker of EVs, I think this is not acceptable.
My advice to you is to simply not to buy a Leaf, unless you live in a place that does not get too warm or to cold, you drive slow and only do city driving with no fast charging.
Thanks Nissan but no thanks, the Leaf is definitely not for me.