A handful of Nissan Leaf owners located in the arid desert city of Phoenix, Arizona, have reported an abnormally quick loss of battery capacity over the last year.
While Nissan claims that the Leaf has a driving range of up to 100 miles, some owners report that the lithium-ion battery in their one-year old Leaf runs out of electricity after driving for just 44 miles.
The Leaf owners who have run into the problem say that they do not drive aggressively and that their cars are well-maintained. The owners unanimously attribute the loss in capacity to Arizona's extremely hot summer.
"Soon I'll be left with a very expensive paperweight in my garage," says one disgruntled owner.
Industry analysts believe that the problem can be blamed on the fact that the Leaf's battery is air-cooled and not liquid-cooled. Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, predicted the problem in August of 2010 when he claimed that the Leaf's battery would "shut off" in hot climates due to its air-cooled design.
Nissan says that out of the 400 Leaf EVs that are currently registered in the state of Arizona, only five owners have filed a complaint about heat-related battery problems. The company is dealing with the issue on a case-by-case basis and it does not consider it a nationwide problem.
"We want to learn more about what's going on," said Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning, in an interview with Phoenix-based television station CBS5. "We've just been made aware of the problem so we have not made any conclusions yet," he added.
A topic posted in an online forum dedicated to the Nissan Leaf indicates that owners in Texas and California have reported similar problems.