Can your electric car go the distance?
VANCOUVER -- Electric vehicles are increasingly popular as consumers seek clean energy solutions and cash in on government incentives. But they can still have drawbacks, depending on how you use them.
It seems simple – charge it up and take off. That’s fine if you’re sticking close to home, but Erik Minty was hoping to do more with his 2018 Nissan Leaf.
“The main issue is you can’t take it on long road trips in the summer,” he says.
That’s because the battery heats up while charging, and heats up even more on the “quick charge” setting. That’s what Minty used on a recent summer road trip in the B.C. mountains, and the battery got too hot.
“It just turned our trip into a complete nightmare," he says. “We’d be having to pull over several times just to make it up a hill because the battery has no way to cool off.”
Minty says they lost both power and range.
George Iny of the Automobile Protection Association says the Nissan Leaf uses a cheaper air-cooled battery system which has caused problems for some owners. Many other electric vehicles use a more expensive liquid-cooled battery system.
“The Leaf has a primitive battery-cooling system,” Iny says, adding that the car is good for urban trips. “But it’s definitely not a long-distance tourer. It’s not your choice if you need range.”
McLaughlin On Your Side reached out to Nissan, which tested the battery on Minty’s Leaf and said it found nothing wrong.
But the company did tell CTV News Vancouver that Minty’s issue “…was quick charging too many times in a row, which elevates battery temperature.”
That doesn’t sit right with Minty.
“If we had known about it, if they had told us about this limitation, we would have just gotten another electric vehicle,” Minty says.
Nissan has been in the hot seat before because of the batteries. The company settled a class action suit with U.S. Leaf owners in 2015 who experienced a loss of battery power in their vehicles, particularly in California and Arizona. In response, Nissan extended the warranties on Leaf batteries.
The company says the Leaf meets most customers’ daily urban driving needs and occasional road trips, and said it did a software update on Minty’s car to improve his vehicle’s quick charging.
But, moving forward, Nissan is planning to make changes to its electric battery cooling system. The new 2021 Ariya electric SUV will be equipped with a liquid-cooled battery system.
Minty is still driving his Leaf but wants out of his lease without penalty. He says he was told that isn’t possible.
“They’re going to lose ground if they treat their customers this way,” he says.