Today, Andy Palmer announced an update to the warranty of the Nissan LEAF retroactive back to the very first LEAF sold in the US two years ago. Starting sometime this Spring 2013, If any LEAF loses its 9th capacity bar within 5 years or 60,000 miles, Nissan will replace or refurbished whatever component necessary to get back to a minimum of 70% of the original capacity or more. I am guessing the actual capacity restored will be highly dependent upon the mileage the vehicle has. I would venture to say that someone with qualifying losses with barely 10,000 miles on the odometer would get a much "fuller" pack than someone with 40,000 miles.
Currently the capacity bars disappear at 15% loss on the 12th bar and about 6 % on each successive bar. The ninth bar would disappear about 33% so the warranty would return some capacity. Now, I am just over 26,000 miles and have lost roughly 5% capacity so this wont do a thing for me. I got the LEAF on the premise that a 30% range reduction to about 50-55 miles would still be workable for me. It would still do most of the trips I need to make.
But this is the first real sign that Nissan is amenable to our needs. This weak terms of this warranty will make very few existing owners happy but I have to think this announcement is really a setup to a purchase/exchange program that Nissan will be able to offer at very attractive rates as soon as the much cheaper TN built batteries start to fill up the supply pipeline.
Right now there is a fellow WA State LEAFer who is struggling with a only a 15% loss of range. Now, he loves his LEAF. He also has over 60,000 miles and his transportation need is great. A program that would allow him to pay for a replacement battery that would get him back up to near 100% of his original capacity is the logical next step.
This program would enable LEAFers to maintain a minimal level of SOC for as long as they want for a price. The higher the SOC desired, the more it will cost in more frequent exchanges. But that is what many people need. The ability to "see" options 10 years down the road. Introducing "EV Friendly" long term financial planning!
More importantly, it is good solid business sense.
Exchanged batteries will still have significant capacity that can be used in other charge storage applications where weight/performance is not critical further bolstering Nissan's revenues. +1 for the manufacturer
Dealerships will gain a revenue stream from installations of the packs. This will "hopefully" improve dealer attitudes towards selling a car that requires nearly no maintenance. +1 for the dealer (by far the weakest link!)
This program could provide possible upgrade of capacity/power or even "weatherization" enhancements (although I believe TMS to be the super secret surprise for 2013) in the future. +1 for the customer