Nissan sets out to repair software glitch on Leaf for start-up defect

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 16, 2011

Nissan Motor Co. has started a repair campaign for about 5,300 Leaf cars to fix a glitch in the software of these vehicles that causes some of them to fail to start. In a statement, Nissan asserted that it is “not a safety issue” as the Leaf will not stop while it’s being driven. The Leaf vehicles affected have been sold in Japan, North America and Europe. About 500 of the affected Leaf cars were sold to U.S. customers.

Next week, Nissan will start to inform Leaf drivers of the repair campaign. The message will be sent via the vehicle's on-board communications system. Nissan said that dealers will repair the programming in the control module of the vehicles.

Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman said that there will be some cases wherein dealers may agree to repair the software at the customer’s workplace or home.

In a statement, Nissan said that it is “fully aware” that it had inconvenienced some customers. The Leaf is a big part of Nissan's plan to be the leader in the emerging market for electric vehicles along with partner Renault SA.

The five-seater Leaf was launched in Japan and the U.S. last December. Earlier this month, Nissan said that it had received complaints from customers in both countries that their vehicles won’t start. This is a risky setback for this vehicle, which had only been available in the market a few months.

No matter how small the detail is, there is the possibility that it can have a large impact. A good example is how the front of the Nissan LEAF has been styled. It is characterized with the upright and sharp V-shaped design that makes use of up-slanting and long light-emitting diode headlights and then utilizes a blue internal reflective design, as if to tell the world that this is indeed a special car. However the same headlights are only there in terms of looks. The way they have been designed, the headlights allow airflow to be split and then redirected away from its door mirrors and there lower drag and wind noise.

In addition, since the headlights use LEDs, it only uses 10% of the electricity that would have been consumed if standard lamps had been used. This allows the Nissan LEAF to attain the world-class range autonomy. On the inside, bright trim colors have been used, resulting in a cabin environment that is not only stylish but also pleasing.

There is the blue earth color theme that is inspired from the Aqua Globe body color of the introductory model of the LEAF. This theme can be seen all throughout the interior like the lighting of the instrument and the highlights on the dashboard.

One of the strong features in the Nissan LEAF is that it exclusively utilizes an advanced IT system. Since the system is connected to a global data center, it can deliver the needed information, support, and entertainment that drivers need for 24 hours a day. A monitor mounted on the dashboard shows the current power remaining in the LEAF, the reachable area, and even a choice of charging stations in the immediate vicinity.

Being able to set charging functions or activate the air-conditioning through mobile phones are some its other interesting features. In the Nissan LEAF, it takes this to a different level as it can be done even if the car has been powered down.

There is however a remote-controlled timer inside that can be preprogrammed in order to recharge batteries. Chief Product Specialist Tooru ABE shares that the most critical advantage remains to be the IT system. The brand, he added, had long wanted a car that would act as the driver’s partner but would also improve the experience especially for its passengers. The brand also wanted a vehicle that would pave the way to making a zero-emission community, and with the IT features in place, is likely to be possible, he continued.

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