Nissan buys back Leafs under Arizona Lemon Law

Some Nissan Leaf drivers are returning their vehicles for a full refund, citing reduced range and battery power. But Nissan insists that such problems are rare, and that Leaf owners are among the country's most satisfied car owners. 

Jeff Barnard/AP/FIle
In this March 2012 file photo, a Nissan Leaf tops off it's battery in Central Point, Ore., at one of the charging stations along Interstate 5. Some Arizona Leaf owners are returning their vehicles in exchange for a full refund under that state's Lemon Law. Nissan insists such returns are isolated occurrences, and not an emerging trend of dissatisfaction among Leaf owners.

Yesterday, a local news station in Phoenix, Arizona, confirmed that Nissan has agreed to buy back wilting Leaf electric cars from their owners under the state’s Lemon Law.

The news comes less than a week after Mark Perry, Nissan North America’s product planning and advanced technology director, blamed the premature range loss suffered by some Leaf owners in hot states on excessive high mileage

As CBS5 in Phoenix reports, Andrea and Mason Convey, and Scott Yarosh, are among those who are selling their Leafs back to Nissan.

Earlier this year, Convey and Yarosh’s cars were among seven Leafs taken to Nissan’s testing facility in Case Grande for official Nissan examination, after continued complaints to the automaker. 

“I had to get rid of it,” Yarosh told CBS5. “When I turned my car in, I was only able to get 42 miles on a single charge,” he explained, pointing out that his work commute was 45 miles. 

After just 15 months of ownership, three of the capacity bars on his Leaf’s dashboard had disappeared, representing a 27.5 percent loss in battery capacity.

Unable to drive his car to work, Yarosh turned his car in, and was hit by almost $700 in fees. A week later, Nissan gave him a full refund. 

“I think they’re trying to get me to shut up to be honest, to keep my mouth shut,” he said.

The Conveys are similarly suspicious.

“We’re not sure if this is the beginning of their admission that there is an issue or if this is them trying to quiet a few isolated individuals,” Mason Convey said. “It’s been a long four months and there’s still a lot of bitterness still left over from the way they treated us.”

Other Leaf owners have also accepted a buy-back offer from Nissan, including Randy Miller, owner of the appropriately named blog.

“One thing I will point out is that the repurchase price is based on the mileage (reasonable use charge according to AZ Lemon Law), and that mileage is based on the first complaint to Nissan,” Miller wrote. “So if you are a Leaf owner and are having range / battery capacity issues, be sure to file a complaint with the BBB Auto Line as soon as possible.”

According to Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary, the decision to buy back cars isn't an admittance of fault on Nissan's part: it's a way to keep customers happy.

"Nissan works hard to satisfy individual customers when they express unhappiness with their ownership experience," she told us. "In the interest of customer satisfaction, Nissan has recently repurchased two customer vehicles as a good will gesture. The company's investigation has determined that there is no defect with the Nissan Leaf, but we did use a buyback formula modelled on an Arizona state repurchase law, given its established criteria."

Reiterating that Nissan believes the issue of premature battery loss to be confined to a small number of cases, and that globally, Nissan Leaf customers remain one of the most satisfied car owners in the world, Zachary added, "Remember, this is a small group of owners we're talking about, and it's not a pervasive problem. It's a combination of high temperatures and high miles in a small number of cases."

Nissan has not made an official statement on the subject of the first  class-action lawsuit now filed against Nissan in California for the same complaint. 

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