Does Global Warming Kill Electric Cars?
Next Tuesday, Nissan will buy back Randy Miller’s LEAF electric car, one of two Arizonans who are forcing the carmaker to take back their EV under the state’s “lemon” law. The ironic thing is, Miller says he loves the car and he wishes Nissan would work with him and other Arizona residents who are experiencing noticeable loss of driving range.
Miller and an estimated 100 other early adopters — not all in Arizona — who either bought, as he did, or leased the LEAF, are complaining that their cars are prematurely losing their battery capacity, largely due, Miller believes, to the excessive heat in the greater Phoenix metroplex where the problem first began to materialize.
“It’s a heat issue is what it boils down to,” Miller told EV World today during a telephone interview. “Nissan didn’t even provide a fan for the battery.”
High temperatures are known of negatively impact the life of any battery. Miller says the lead acid starter batteries used in conventional cars in his area last less than two years. The U.S. Army experienced similar problems with its equipment in Iraq, where disposal yards are filled with hills of discarded starter batteries.
For its part, Nissan is claiming the loss of range is because the drivers are putting too many miles on their cars. The company, Miller explained, took the LEAFs of the initial seven Phoenix residents who began noticing the range on their cars dropping, as measure in capacity bars on the car’s display, and kept them for two weeks, presumably to run tests. According to Miller, Nissan then returned the cars without an word of explanation. One of the driver’s whose car was part of the test, noticed it had only 20 additional miles on the odometer, suggesting Nissan simply drove it to its test site and let it sit, apparently running tests on the battery, but not actually driving it.
The amount of loss of driving range experienced by at least 100 people ranges from one bar to four bars, the latter representing an estimated loss of one-third of capacity. In practical terms, the affected car was only able to drive some 42 miles, when it should able to do 70 or more. Nissan advertises the car will do 100. The EPA rates it at 73 miles per charge.