Sunday, August 6, 2017

30 Days To Redemption; Reading Between Blank Lines.

My  sister has worked in the auto service industry for years and all dealerships have the ability to get "off paper"  things done for those out of warranty facing expensive repairs and actually has a fund for exactly that purpose so the reality is it is a lot of how you present your case,  previous history with the dealership, etc.

Online forums are a pretty small sample of LEAF owners out there and by and large started by a small core of hard core EVers most of which still remain here despite many not even driving LEAFs anymore.   The overwhelming majority of new people ONLY come here to complain. This has caused a lot of us to get a pretty negative view of Nissan but that is how we Humans roll.

When things go as expected, it simply does not make an impression on us.  Now did Nissan have issues? Yep, they did. Even in the "best rated" climate in the US for EVs, I still lost 12-13% capacity in 45,000 miles and 3 years on my 2011.  I leased so it was a somewhat of an inconvenience at first but I leased because like any new tech, I wasn't all that sure it was going to work for me.  It was compromise, no doubt but EVERY car is a compromise.  I have a gasser and I soon realized that it was a  much higher level of compromise masked by decades of acceptance of "that is how it is"

So when it came time to dump the 2011, I examined my options and found that the LEAF was basically my only choice, So got a 2013 but this time at SUPER CHEAP prices.  It undoubtedly proved that Nissan had made progress. I drove pretty much the same way, same areas, same location but ended up with roughly 8% degradation after nearly identical miles.  There is no amount of variance that can account for that much improvement.  FYI; I think LEAF Spy only helped me to abuse my pack more if deeper cycling is bad because I literally came home EVERY days for months at a time under 10 GIDs.

But the 2013 again was a lease and despite a crazy discount to buy it, I knew that the 2013 LEAF was simply not a "purchaseable" car for many of the same reasons the 2011 wasn't.  So again, I looked at the options and now there was good competition out there including the option toe extend my lease (remember I had one third less degradation so a few more months was easily doable)  for a Bolt but realized rather early in the game that Chevy wasn't a company I was going to be happy to deal with.

But Nissan incentives to return were simply too much to ignore. I thought about a 2 year lease but also looked at the timing of other manufacturers and the current nearly comatose build up of public charging and decided to make it a 3 year lease.  Whether that works out is still up in the air but the 30 kwh pack was bigger and for the first time in 6 years, I got the 2 free years of charging but again, the price was simply not to be believed making other manufacturers options simply too much more money.  But again, the 30 kwh LEAF was not a viable long term option and I ended up with what is essentially a 3 year test drive. A near zero interest loan for a LEAF whose out the door price would be barely more than half its selling price.  I figured I had little to lose with a $9,000 residual which I felt could be negotiated down if I decided the car was worth buying later.  But the reality was I had the chance to really evaluate Nissan's progress in making a better battery. With free charging, I could abuse the Hell out of the pack with the extra range assuring I would not be too inconvenienced at the end of the lease and that is exactly what I have done. More on that later.

But one thing I have noticed that started just about a year ago is Nissan taking a dramatic change in customer service and huge incentives on new cars was only part of it.  Previously I had heard of just a handful of people getting a decent resolution from Nissan if that.  The reality was even people completely under warranty were having issues getting things done and when it did happen it was after several weeks or even months.  Battery supply issues?  Nah, Nissan has a ton of facilities with MUCH more capacity than they were putting out.

But late last year, evidence of huge policy shifts became evident.  All of a sudden, I was hearing about people out of warranty sometimes by a year or several thousand miles getting packs hugely discounted or in some cases free.  It started a bit slowly but I realized that what we were seeing here wasn't representative of what was really happening.  The great deals were actually happening in bunches.

Again, it seemed like Nissan had added a page to its customer service rules without telling anyone. This is typical of how they operate. They have been tweaking the LEAF for a better customer service experience without letting us know any progress they have made.  Remember the announcement of the 24 to 30 kwh upgrade for the S trim on the 2016 LEAF?  Yeah, neither do I since there essentially wasn't one.

But the news of deals on replacement packs kept rolling in.  I am now hearing 3-5 a week including one guy who has over 100,000 miles on his 2011 and got a battery for 80% off. He is almost double the warranty mileage and several years past his 5 year time line.  But he is not alone.  Its almost as if Nissan knew the earlier replacement packs were not going to be significantly better than what the customer had and was hesitant to provide them but now that they had improved the chemistry, BMS, etc.  They had something that they could be proud of and wanted to pass them out to anyone who asked, hence the crazy discounts.

So back to my 2016 LEAF.  I got the car Nov 11, 2016.  Since the 30 kwh S trim upgrade wasn't really announced, its anyone's guess as to when they started building them in TN but my build date was 10/16.

So why did Nissan upgrade the S trim literally weeks  before the 2017's hit the streets?  Wouldn't have been better to hold off until then? Or was it simply "proud parent" syndrome winning the day?

To date I have driven 18,226 miles  with (just checked 5 mins ago) ahr 82.34, SOH 100%, Hx  100.56%,  363 GIDs, 28.1 kwh available (GIDs = 77.5 wh)  with 159 QCs,  189 L2s.   All these numbers are the same as the day I picked up the car (Actually Hx was 99%)   Now, our "perfect" climate for battery longevity is on hiatus this Summer.  On Thurs night according to someone on Facebook (did not verify because I was too hot to care at the time) but at 11 PM, Seattle had a higher temperature than Phoenix AZ.   Granted we don't (does anyone?) touch Phoenix for daytime temps but only provided the info to show that this Summer is as far from normal as... well as this past Winter was from our normal Winters.

So does this mean that despite baking the pack to 125º a few dozen times during both cold and hot weather without any signs of battery fade mean that Nissan has finally hit one of their performance goals?  Well, its simply too early to tell to be honest with you. But the signs bode well so far.  My 2013 started its decline at roughly the same time period (but 5,000 less miles) so I might be just around the corner from seeing 99%.  FYI; because of out of town job assignments, a long 4th of July weekend (trust in the fact that going anywhere that weekend is insanity) combined with a few local jobs, my LEAF actually did see 81.90 ahr and 98% SOH after 9 days of averaging 25 miles a day and charging only a few hours every 2-3 days including one QC that literally lasted me almost a week. But my normal driving patterns made that a memory after 3 days.

We are now one month away from another "proud parent" day for Nissan.  This time the stakes are much higher. Gone is the pie in the sky expectations present in December of 2010.  Present on September 6th will be the still vivid memories of "100 miles of range"  "70% after 10 years"  "30 cents on the dollar for lightly used LEAFs"   For those of you that have had negative dealership or corporate interactions in the past, this will be a hard thing to believe, but this is Nissan's chance to thank the early adopters for their loyalty.  Already, they have made it clear that current LEAFers will have incentives available to them on the 2018 LEAF and whether you took an extension on a lease ending this year (along with the 3 free months) or you bought yours so many years ago,  you will be the beneficiaries.  Just as Tesla rewarded their current customers, Nissan will do the same.

6 comments:

  1. I so wish I could believe it. My 2012 Leaf delivered in Dec 2011 in Maryland was not all that was promised but still a lot of fun over the years. With 60k miles my limping range no remote start $40K SL won't be worth much as a trade in for a Tesla. Still I think it's time to see if Tesla can do a little better with a customer.

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    1. Well, my lease runs till Nov 2019 so I have plenty of time but we shall soon see what the LEAF has to offer and rest assured it will not compete with the Tesla. I love the T3 but have doubt storage, seating position or price is going to work for me.

      But its all about what Nissan is willing to do for me as a current customer so we shall see in a month!

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    2. Well seriously - I hope it goes great. I have to give credit to most of the Leaf which has been super reliable. If only the battery had been a little larger and tougher.... I would have been willing throw in for 2G EOL fix but with the battery declining it just was the straw that broke me. Will continue to read with interest as more quality options are good for everyone in the EV community.

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    3. Well, the whole reason I am purposely running my battery hard is to determine whether or not the hardiness of the pack has improved and not looking for small improvements using anecdotal evidence. This is why I am going overboard with the driving and the charging. I want there to be no doubt.

      I am confident that just as April 2013 is an important build date threshold, I think Nov 2016 will turn out to be the same.

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  2. Another great post Dave, and good comments DG.

    I hope you are right re Nissan turning a corner and taking care of it currently customers. They did right by me with my leased then purchased 2012 Leaf water pump issue so like you I am cautiously optimistic.

    According to Leaf Spy, I still have 77% of my battery left and my battery loss warranty is still good until early February on next year.

    I am kinda caught between a rock and a hard place as I sure wouldn't mind it if I lost another 8% by the end of January to get a battery replacement under warranty but I also want my battery to last as long as possible so that I can put off purchasing a new one for as long as possible.

    Doing a Renault Zoe like battery upgrade to something on the order of 40 kwr would be my almost ideal outcome/solution.

    I am also a Tesla Model 3 first day reservation holder who would love to have a dual motor car, even without the bigger battery and other accutraments that I might like but doubt I could afford/justify $, so I am keeping my options open and keeping Nissan's feet to the fire.

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