UK LEAF buyers claim Nissan misled them about range, charging times

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.”

 

Source: BBC
Image: Jakob Härter

  • Randy George

    Interesting… We’ve had a 2018 LEAF since February (U.S. customer), and have found it easy to get between 150 and 160 miles per charge. It was always advertised as such, so we have been very happy as a result. Maybe the U.K. advertising was different. As for the charge times of fast charging, this seems like a case of “both sides have a point.” It’s hard to make marketing claims that hold up under every circumstance. Personally, I wouldn’t take the LEAF on a trip that exceeded its range if I needed to be there in a certain time. That just seems like a lot to expect. You could just as easily find that the charger was occupied. Having to charge in the middle of a trip is usually a PITA, even if it’s just 40 minutes. I would hate to see the few limitations of current EV technology give this otherwise stellar (and rapidly improving) technology a bad rap. I have no affiliation with Nissan, but I think they deserve kudos for producing a relatively affordable EV with a range that is adequate for the vast majority of the trips that people take.

    • Sam Price

      The difference in certified range is because US vehicles are ran over an ‘FTP’ drive cycle whereas European vehicles are certified over an ‘NEDC’ drive cycle. The FTP is much more accurate to ‘real world’ driving so I suspect that is why you are seeing range values more closely aligned to the ‘sticker value’ but Euro customers are finding it falling short. As the article has stated, this will improve for European customers soon as it moves across to the more realistic ‘WLTC’ drive cycle for future vehicle certification.

    • Lance Pickup

      It’s a tough one. It’s a question of expectations and marketing vs. actual capabilities of a vehicle.

      I consider a BEV80 (such as the original Nissan LEAF) to pretty much be a local EV. A BEV100 (30kWh LEAF) is an extra-local EV. With compromise you can (and I have) take the vehicle outside your local area, but as you said, you would not want to do this regularly and you had better be prepared to wait at the charging station. A BEV150 (new LEAF) is what I would call small regional, and a BEV200 (Chevy BoltEV and standard range Tesla Model 3) a true regional vehicle. You can take the Bolt up to about 2X its range (which is still pretty good), but I would not suggest stringing together more than 2 quick charges. To their credit, GM doesn’t market the Bolt as a true long distance EV.

      It’s not until you get to 280 mile range with 100kW charging ability that I would consider a vehicle capable of long range travel. And at 350 miles of range and 150kW charging ability, there starts to be no reason to even improve on that, as the limitation becomes the drivers & passengers, not the vehicle.

      Using my scale, the 40kWh LEAF falls into the small regional category. I don’t know how this translates to Europe, or the UK specifically, but it would be more or less inadequate in the US as a primary trip vehicle. Most people have travel requirements at least in the regional category.

  • Mark Willing

    Averaging 5.0 miles/kWh (200 mi/322 km range) on my 2018 Leaf. I’ve never seen this 200+ mile range they seem to be advertising in the UK. All the US ratings are 150 – 170 mile range. The vast majority of the US is lacking DC-fast charging, so most charge at home and never go far enough to really challenge the battery. We’ll see what happens over the next 5-10 years once the infrastructure builds up. Love the car. First electric vehicle.

    • Randy George

      Wow, that’s impressive range you are getting! You must drive slowly… or downhill both ways! We do quite a bit of highway miles on ours and usually don’t get much more than 4 miles/kWh. But I agree, it is a fabulous car… a real game-changer.

      • Mark Willing

        LOL! I do make a point of using secondary roads whenever I can, which tend to be 40-50 mph. I use the e-pedal, eco mode, and the “B” drive. I have found that once you get up to speed, back off the pedal to one bar on the power graph and hold it, you can get 8 miles/kWh consistently. I also modulate the pedal to coast as much as I can before coming to a stop. If I am on the highway driving 70-75 mph, then I am like you, at 4-4.5 miles/kWh.