Nissan reaches settlement over Leaf EV battery

The 2011 Nissan Leaf, subject to a class action lawsuit. Image courtesy of Nissan.
The 2011 Nissan Leaf, subject to a class action lawsuit. Image courtesy of Nissan.

Japanese automaker Nissan has reached a final settlement in a long running class action regarding its Leaf electric vehicle.

The class action, which was pursued by owners of Nissan Leaf vehicles, purchased between 2011 and 2012 in California, related to allegations that the car’s batteries were poorly advertised.

“Before purchase or lease, Nissan failed to disclose its own recommendations that owners avoid charging the battery beyond 80% in order to mitigate battery damage and failed to disclose that Nissan’s estimated 100 mile range was based on a full charge battery, which is contrary to Nissan’s own recommendation for battery charging,” the class action claimed.

Further claims were also made relating to the performance of these batteries when used in regions with hot climates.

In what has been described as a final settlement with Nissan, the claimants will now reportedly have to compensate owners and replace their battery packs.

Specifically, Nissan will no longer have the option to repair battery packs which read less than 9 ‘bars’ of capacity on the car’s gauge, rather they will have to replace them with upgraded battery packs from the 2015 Nissan Leaf.

Additionally, Nissan will offer Leaf owners 90 days of free charging at some of the company’s ‘No Charge To Charge’ locations.

This is seen as an improvement to an earlier $38 million settlement offered by Nissan but rejected by Alex Kozinski, a 2011 Leaf owner and Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kozinski rejected the deal, claiming it only helped those involved in the class action, rather than all Leaf owners who had been affected by this problem.

Nissan declined to comment on this recent settlement, however has long maintained that the lawsuit is “without merit”.

Nissan Leaf sales continue to grow

Despite this lawsuit, the Nissan Leaf continues to be the top selling plug-in electric vehicle globally.

In 2014 alone, Nissan sold 30,200 of the vehicles in the US, a significant increase on the 22,610 vehicles sold over the same period in 2013.

This being said, in 2015 Nissan is facing strong competition from high-profile challenger Tesla, and its Model S vehicle as well as the upcoming global release of the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.