Phillip Carlson bought a Nissan Leaf in August 2012, which cost about $53,500. It’s seven years old today, and it’s worth maybe $12,000 – if you can find someone dumb enough to buy it. Let’s let him tell the story.
“I bought an electric car from Nissan with 5 years warranty on the battery. They claimed 175km range.
From new I only ever got 120km. Now I can BARELY get 35-40km during winter or even 25km if I use the heater. The warranty says the battery is bad if it drops to 8 out of 12 bars, which mine has.
“I took it in and they claim the battery is totally fine and there’s nothing wrong with it and gave me a $33,000 invoice for a new one!!!!! Nissan just won’t listen and I’ve run out of all hope. I paid $53,500 for this car and it’s pretty useless now.” – Phillip Carlson
The $33k quote
Here’s the official battery replacement quote from Lennock Motors in the ACT. $750 to replace the battery, an incredible $29,600 for the battery, you Nissan chumps. Plus GST: that’s $33,385 in total. On a shitheap worth $12k, on a good day today.
I note Nissan and other carmakers bitching and moaning about the lack of government support for EVs in Australia. And I’d suggest that if you’re a carmaker like Nissan, seemingly hell-bent on taking your small group of EV first adopters to the prison shower in this way, then you simply do not deserve any taxpayer support. You short-sighted imbeciles.
And I say this because that kind of behaviour ignores the fact that the easiest guy on earth to sell a new Leaf to is the satisfied owner of an old Leaf.
This extortionate conduct hardly screams: ‘We’ll take care of you.’ Maybe it does – in a Bill Cosby way.
And if you think that’s expensive, check out this $50,000 Jeep repair bill, on another car worth maybe $15k.
Is the Leaf a disposable EV?
So, let’s think about this, and what it really means, because the conduct of organisations tells you more about them than the statements they make.
This is a tacit admission by Nissan that the Leaf is a disposable car. A $50,000 disposable car. Which doesn’t seem very environmentally sustainable to me.
Obvious conclusion on the cost of replacing this battery: For $30,000 you could buy about 20,000 litres of petrol. Which is enough to drive a Leaf-sized conventional car about 400,000 kilometres.
So if you are buying your Leaf EV to save money on fuel, even if you are getting your electricity free from a fat rooftop solar array, every day, you better hope you get 400,000 kms out of the battery.
If you don’t, you’re just kidding yourself. And the leaf is about $30,000 more expensive than a Leaf-sized conventional car. So make that 800,000 kms – to break even, financially. In what universe does that sound like a sound financial plan?
If you’re saving the planet, with your Leaf, it’s even worse: Consigning the Leaf to landfill at seven years of age because it’s grossly uneconomical to repair seems to me like a fairly unsustainable use of the earth’s limited resources. So does throwing away the old battery and replacing it with a new one every seven years.
This is a vital point. EVs and internal combustion are in a race to reduce CO2. And there’s no question: Internal combustion starts off ahead because EVs are filthier to produce – that’s mainly the battery. So, in other words, on a lifecycle assessment basis, EVs start filthy and get cleaner over time, while internal combustion starts cleaner and gets filthier as the kays mount up.
An ADAC report out of Europe from April 2018 found that equivalent EVs and petrol cars broke even on CO2 (on a lifecycle basis) at about 116,000 kilometres, and after that, EVs crept ahead. That’s based on Germany’s grid composition.
(Australia’s grid is filthier, admittedly – so it takes a greater distance to reach this point of emissions equivalence.)
This means EVs cleaning things up is – at best – a long-term proposition. And if you’re throwing the vehicle away at 88,907 kilometres, which is where Mr Carlson’s shitbox Leaf is at right now, or if you’re replacing the battery, your EV is never going to be cleaner than an equivalent small petrol powered car.
ACCC & Consumer Law?
You might wonder where the ACCC is on this.
Regardless of the warranty, a reasonable consumer would expect the battery on Nissan’s flagship EV – a $50,000 car – to last more than 89,000 kilometres……ouch!!!
The fact that it has not is a breach of the Acceptable Quality consumer guarantee. This is a major failure.
That’s not just a trigger to have the battery replaced for free, either. Under the legislation, it’s a trigger to have the purchase price refunded in full. You dealership and Nissan Australia dickheads.
A customer comes in, entitled to a full refund. He’ll accept a replacement battery, and you chumps still just try to stitch him up. This is what happens when toxic waste leaches into the drinking water.
Major failure. Not reasonably durable. Equals refund. That’s how consumer law is written in Australia. And that’s how it would friggin’ work if the ACCC had balls, and not merely an undignified, empty sack, flapping in the breeze.
How you can help
And so, I’m going to do something unprecedented here, which I don’t normally do: I’m going to ask you for your help.
Karla Leach is the PR dudette for Nissan Australia. Correction: General manager of corporate communications.
I’d like you to send her an e-mail, if you feel so inclined. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you wouldn’t mind expressing what you think and how you feel about a $30,000 battery replacement bill on a Nissan Leaf that’s less than 10 years old, with way less than 100,000 kilometres on the clock.
If you’ve got a view on the environmental reprehensibility of making the Leaf effectively disposable and therefore effectively filthier than a conventional car, please let Ms Leach know.
Ditto, this issue of apparently not giving a shit about supporting customers and leaving them (literally, in the case of Canberra) out in the cold. Breaching consumer law.
Thanks for taking a punt on us and trying our brand new technology – here’s your $30,000 battery replacement bill. You Muppets.
These are important issues, and companies typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in focus group research each year in an attempt to learn what consumers think. You can help here. I’m sure Ms Leach will be highly motivated indeed to refer your comments to the boys upstairs.
I’ll make just one final request of you, however: Please don’t be offensive or abusive – just stick to the facts: The outrageous battery replacement cost. The environmentally fraudulent marketing. The ‘shitbox’ and ‘disposable’ status to which that premature replacement consigns the Leaf. And of course what not giving a shit about customers says about the possibility of you buying a Nissan in future.
I’m not taking the piss: if you’ve got 10 minutes, you might be able to achieve something the ACCC cannot – a win for the good guys.