Some UK buyers of Nissan’s new 2018 LEAF are ever so cross. As the BBC reports, some say charging the LEAF can take three times longer than claimed on Nissan’s website, and others have found that the range is far shorter than the 235 miles (378 km) they were promised.
Nissan denies that there’s a problem, saying only that charging times can vary. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority is considering whether to launch an investigation.
Some 2,600 units of the second-generation LEAF have been sold in the UK, and the new EV was named Electric Car of the Year for 2018 by What Car? magazine.
In 2017, Nissan told UK buyers that DC fast charging should take about 40 minutes for an 80% charge “in moderate driving conditions” (the company later amended its marketing material to read “between 40 and 60 minutes”).
However, some drivers making long journeys have told the BBC that they spent far longer times recharging at motorway service stations. There appears to be no problem with the first two charges on any given day – one at home, and then one DC fast charge en route. It’s the second fast charge of the day that can slow to a crawl. When LEAF owner John Weatherley made a 300-mile journey to the Lake District, he found himself waiting for two and a half hours for his second “fast” charge. Mr Weatherley wrote to Nissan, and was told that DC fast charging was only intended for use once per journey – something buyers are probably unaware of.
Nissan told the BBC that charging depends on conditions. “External ambient temperature, the type of driving you’ve been doing beforehand, and the heat you put into the battery if you’ve been doing successive charges can impact the timing,” said Gareth Dunsmore, Director of EVs for Nissan Europe. He said the LEAF automatically slows charging to preserve the battery’s longevity. “We make this clear in the owner’s manual.”
Owner Tony Pitcairn was disappointed not only by long charging times, but also by the overall range. Nissan advertises a range of 235 miles, but Mr Pitcairn wasn’t able to get more than 155 miles. When What Car? tested the new Leaf, it found a real-world range of only 108 miles.
Nissan’s quoted range of 235 miles relies on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which EV industry insiders have long known greatly overestimates real-world range. Fortunately, automakers are moving to a different testing regimen known as the Worldwide Harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which gives the new LEAF a range of 168 miles.
To its credit, Nissan has invited unhappy customers to get in contact. “Come and speak to us if there’s anything you’re not happy with,” says Mr Dunsmore.
Jonathan Porterfield, a long-time EV driver and the creator of EV information source eco-cars.net, brought the issue to the BBC’s attention. “I don’t want this episode to knock Nissan, but at the same time they need to sit up and take notice,” says he. “Just telling people you’ve got to wait longer at a rapid charger – it’s not good enough.”
Image: Jakob Härter