Building Confidence in this New TechnologyNissan has just announced that it will update its LEAF electric car warranty in the Spring of 2013, and there's a big change that could cause ripples across the whole industry and help accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. Andy Palmer, a Nissan executive VP, wrote a note on the MyNissanLeaf.com forums explaining that Nissan's new warranty will "protect against capacity loss in LEAF batteries that fall below nine bars, of the available 12 bars displayed on the vehicle’s battery capacity gauge [so around 70%], for the first five years or 60,000 miles in the United States, whichever comes first. For LEAF vehicles whose batteries have fallen below nine bars during this period, Nissan will repair or replace the battery under warranty with a new or remanufactured battery to restore capacity at or above a minimum of nine bars."
This policy change tells us a few things: First, Nissan is very confident that its batteries won't suffer from too much capacity loss within those 5 years or 60,000 miles. No manufacturer wants to be stuck with huge warranty expenses down the road, so they usually only cover things that they are confident won't break. Second, other electric vehicle manufacturers will probably have to follow Nissan's lead if they want to stay competitive. It now won't be enough to only cover battery failure or major capacity loss. Electric vehicle (EV) buyers will now expect even relatively small capacity loss to be covered. And thirdly, I think it's a great idea to build up confidence in EVs. When a new automotive technology comes out (like hybrids a decade ago), it always takes a few years before the average Joes and Janes become familiar enough with it and trust it enough to consider buying it. By beefing up its warranty, and indirectly probably forcing the rest of the industry to do the same, Nissan could help speed up electric vehicle adoption. Nice move!
You can read Andy Palmer's note here. He also mentions that they are looking at "opportunities to improve the precision of the battery capacity gauge that displays remaining capacity in the LEAFs electric vehicle battery, and intend to have more to report on this topic in the New Year." That's certainly a good idea, and I wish these battery capacity gauges would be standardized across models and brands so that we could truly compare apples to apples.