Assessing your Leaf’s battery health

Bryces Leaf

In the second part of a series about EV batteries, Bryce Gaton looks at the ways you can test and monitor the battery pack in a Nissan Leaf—useful info for both owners and potential purchasers.

When the Nissan Leaf was first on sale in 2011, it came with a 24 kWh battery and a reported range of 175 km, according to the European NEDC test. New owners soon realised that this reported range was highly optimistic and that the actual range varied widely depending on driving style and conditions.

Nissan then performed a series of tests in the USA, with results as shown in Table 1. Nissan also stated the Leaf battery would slowly reduce in capacity as it aged and, under normal use, it should have 80% capacity after five years and 70% after ten.

In the real world, owners found that early Leafs rapidly lost capacity if operated in very hot climates, at something like double the rate stated by Nissan. In 2015 Nissan addressed this issue with a slight change to the battery chemistry to enhance its operation under extreme conditions (this newer 24 kWh battery is sometimes referred to as the ‘lizard’ battery). Note that system design and efficiency changes in late 2013 raised the range to 200 km (NEDC) and, in 2016, the Leaf battery size was increased to 30 kWh, giving an NEDC range of almost 250 km.

Secondhand Leafs in Australia
What does this mean for Leaf owners or potential purchasers in Australia? First, all the Leafs in Australia are 2011 or 2012 models, with the original chemistry 24 kWh batteries; none have any of the later efficiency or battery size upgrades. Second, because they are all now five to six years old, they likely have, at best, 80% remaining battery capacity.

So how can you tell if that secondhand Leaf you are planning to buy has the expected, or less, battery capacity, other than driving it fully charged until it stops? (And, given the data in Table 1, this may still not be an accurate reflection of its remaining capacity.)
Well, luckily, there are multiple ways to assess the health and capacity of a Nissan Leaf battery, both Nissan-provided and via aftermarket apps that can directly access vehicle data via its OBDII (on-board diagnostics, version 2) port.

Read the full article in ReNew 142.

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