Tired of being ignored, Nissan LEAF owners in Arizona recently staged a rigorous test to prove their complaints about premature battery degradation were well-founded. This summer was one of the hottest on record in human history, and many suspected that the pricey batteries inside their electric vehicles were losing effectiveness. Results of the grassroots test seem to support this theory, and many LEAF owners are wondering how long it will take Nissan to respond.

We’ve heard it over and over: range anxiety, the fear that electric vehicle batteries can only survive short trips, is a major roadblock to EV adoption. Newer electric vehicles boast stronger, more efficient batteries, and EV manufacturers make bold claims about the mileage each can travel before recharging. The company’s website states that the Nissan LEAF battery should be able to travel at least 73 miles on a single charge (and up to 100 miles depending on speed). It also claims that the battery should retain 80 percent charging capacity for up to seven years. Yet those entering their second or third summers with the car noticed that their mileage per charge is plummeting, and fast. Online complaints quickly reached Nissan’s ears, but the company merely stated that it was investigating the issue and ‘would make things right.’

Months later, EV owners were tired of waiting to see results from this “investigation” so they decided to orchestrate a test of their own. Just days ago, twelve LEAF owners gathered in a Tempe parking lot that featured several charging stations. Some of the vehicles were practically brand new, while others had odometer readings of up to 29,000 miles. Starting with fully charged batteries, each car drove mapped route until their batteries literally ran out of juice. According to a summary published on InsideEVs, the newest of the cars, those with the lowest mileage, lasted about 80 miles on average. Older cars, however, and those claimed to have suffered battery degradation were doing far less than that with one only getting 59.3 miles out of a full charge.

Confronted with the news, Nissan has pointed to the annual mileage and driving style of  LEAF owners as an explanation. Upon an internal investigation, the company found that most of the LEAFs covered much higher mileage per year than the 12,500 miles Nissan used to estimate the rate of battery capacity loss over time. Under these conditions, Nissan’s Mark Perry told Green Car Reports, “The cars and the battery packs are behaving as we expected.” However, that likely comes as small consolation to EV drivers looking for a reliable vehicle that can truly replace their gas powered cars.

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