Nissan Motor Co. has reached an agreement to reacquire two of the seven Leaf electric vehicles whose owners in Phoenix, Arizona have publicly expressed concern over aging batteries. Nissan’s actions could help appease a small group of Leaf owners and green-car enthusiasts who have been questioning the ability of the electric vehicle’s battery to hold a sufficient charge as it ages. In response to their qualms, Nissan has announced that it would commission an independent, global panel to conduct a study that would find out whether the Leaf’s batteries are aging on a rapid pace, hoping that it would prove that there is nothing wrong with them. Dave Reuter, Nissan chief spokesman, said that the carmaker is not happy that there are customers with concerns.
He also said that the company has been working hard to improve its customer communications to better meet their expectations. Reuter noted that they have sold around 450 Leafs in Phoenix, with majority of the new electric vehicle owners being very satisfied. He also noted that worldwide, Leaf customers are some of Nissan's most satisfied. Reuter remarked that the perceived issue should be placed in context.
The concerns by the owners, which are posted on environmental web sites and online forums, came as Nissan is about to commence the mass production of the Leaf at a Smyrna plant in Tennessee. Nissan will soon start the operation of the plant, which has an annual production capacity of up to 200,000 lithium ion battery modules. The Smyrna plant will be supporting a new Leaf assembly plant built to supply dealers in the United States with 150,000 electric cars annually. This project, which costs Nissan around $1.6 billion, is part of a worldwide, multi-site $5 billion Leaf manufacturing program.