Pulling the Plug: Nissan buys back 2 Leafs under AZ Lemon LawPosted: Updated:
CBS 5 News was the first to break the story with a series of reports about problems with the eco-friendly Nissan Leaf.
Owners in Arizona have been desperate to get the carmaker's attention, saying scorching desert temperatures are wilting their new Leafs.
The Leaf owners were Nissan's guinea pigs. They were first in line to buy the new car.
Now Nissan has acknowledged at least two of the cars are lemons, and they are voluntarily buying them back. According to information obtained by CBS 5 News, several owners have recently pulled the plug.
"It's going back to Nissan," said Andrea Convey about her 2011 Leaf.
She and her husband, Mason, feel vindicated because Nissan is buying back their all-electric car.
"It's being bought back under the terms of the Arizona Lemon Law," said Convey.
The Conveys have fought hard to get to this point after countless complaints about their dramatic drop in driving range seemed to fall on deaf ears at Nissan.
"We're not sure if this is the beginning of their admission that there is an issue, or if this is them trying to quiet a few isolated individuals," Mason Convey said.
Another owner also is getting a Lemon Law buyback, and they aren't the only ones getting some relief.
"I had to get rid of it," said Scott Yarosh about his Leaf, widely considered the worst of the bunch in Arizona. After only 15 months, he couldn't even make his 45-mile one-way commute to work.
"When I turned my car in, I was only able to get 42 miles on a single charge," Yarosh said.
The EV enthusiast turned in his leased Leaf early and was hit with almost $700 in fees, but a week later Nissan offered him a full refund.
"I think they're trying to get me to shut up to be honest, to keep my mouth shut," Yarosh said.
Two months ago, Nissan's Mark Perry spoke with CBS 5 News over the phone about complaints of battery capacity loss in Arizona.
"I don't think there is a problem," Perry said.
The Conveys' and Yarosh's car were among seven Nissan tested in Casa Grande recently. To this day, the company still insists there is no problem with the lithium-ion battery, even given Arizona's extreme heat.
In an official letter to the Leaf community, a Nissan executive ties the complaints to high mileage. The miles from the seven cars tested averaged about 16,000 miles a year. Nissan's owner manual states the one-year checkup for the car is at 15,000 miles. The company now states 7,500 miles a year is the average commute for a Phoenix driver.
"I couldn't believe that Nissan was trying to pin it on me," said Yarosh, who was never personally contacted about the test results from his car.
In reality, there are Leafs with high miles all over the country. Some are even celebrated by Nissan on their Facebook page and Twitter. None are experiencing what owners in the Arizona desert are going through. Most of them believe the region's extreme heat is baking the batteries far beyond what Nissan expected, and the company refuses to admit it.
"I believe temperature is the No. 1 key factor in this whole range loss," Yarosh said.
For Mason Convey and his wife, even though the company is buying back their car next week, the couple still has hard feelings against Nissan for the way they've handled the issue.
"It's been a long four months and there's still a lot of bitterness still left over from the way they treated us," he said.
There are 400 Leaf owners in Arizona and dozens more of them have similar complaints.
An inside source with the company told CBS 5 News there's talk that the car might be yanked from dealerships in the desert.
Nissan offered to speak with CBS 5 early this week, but after several attempts by CBS 5 News to contact them, there was no response.
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