How to cool an electric car battery
What is a manufacturer to do about electric car batteries susceptibility to heat? As it turns out, the answer depends on what the warranty says, not so much on what the owner’s manual warns you not to do, Finley writes.
Before the Chevy Volt (a plug-in hybrid) went on sale, Volt Chief Engineer Andrew Farah openly acknowledged that the extreme temperatures found in the Southwest have the potential to permanently reduce the battery pack’s capacity to store energy:Skip to next paragraph
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“The Volt may not be right for everyone. If you live in the Southwest, depending on how you use your car, the Volt might not be right for you.”
So what is a manufacturer to do if a given customer’s driving habits consistently exposes his or her battery pack to excessively high temperatures in a place like Tucson, or charges it five times a day, or maybe applies a blowtorch to it? As it turns out, the answer depends on what the warranty says, not so much on what the owner’s manual warns you not to do.
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As the chief engineer for the Volt warned above, Nissan’s owner’s manual also warned that excessive exposure to ambient temperatures above 120 degrees F would degrade battery capacity. However, when a handful of Leaf owners in the Southwest realized that their batteries were losing capacity faster than batteries not repeatedly exposed to temperatures over 120 degrees F, they filed a class action lawsuit.
How Nissan responded:
“So today, we are announcing that we are enhancing the warranty coverage of the battery system that powers the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle. With this action, Nissan becomes the first and only manufacturer in the automotive industry to provide limited warranty coverage for battery capacity loss for electric vehicles.
Under an expanded New Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty, Nissan 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, 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.
A vehicle whose battery has nine remaining bars indicated on the gauge is retaining approximately 70 percent of its original battery capacity. This new limited warranty coverage remains subject to the other terms, conditions and exclusions of the Nissan New Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty, which otherwise remain unchanged.”
How does the new Leaf warranty compare to the Volt warranty?