Chloé: R.I.P.

Chloe, Our Nissan Leaf

Back in 2011, we bought our first fully electric vehicle, a red Nissan Leaf we named Chloe1. We have solar panels; so, Chloe, a Nissan Leaf, also runs on sunshine. We drive it for the vast majority of our in-town driving, in excess of 27,000 miles.

We both love this car. It had a significant amount of space inside. In fact, in all of those years, very few things we needed to transport would not fit in it. It zipped along. Also, getting into and out of the car is very easy as the doors are large, and the car is not low to the ground.

We knew the battery would eventually wear out, as all rechargeable batteries do. And, sure enough, the battery indicator showed a gradual decline as the battery would fully charge to a more and more limited range. Out of the 10 battery health indicators, we were down to 8.

It’s maximum range started out at about 110 miles per charge. In the last year, when it was cold, it would only charge to a 47 mile range. In the summer it would charge up to about 67 miles. We rarely go more than 20 miles in the car at a time as we use it for all of our local driving.

Is It Dead?!

On Monday, Steve was heading to work. He rushed back into the house and sounded terribly anxious. He said something was wrong with Chloe. It wouldn’t start. I am the keep-everything-working guy and had just changed the battery in the key fob. I feared the new battery was either defective or dead. I gave him my key.

He said he didn’t think it was the key. He sounded a bit freaked out. So, I went to the garage with him. Sure enough. Chloe’s battery is dead. Totally dead. Nothing. No range. No battery health indicator. Dead.

I was surprised about a couple of things…

One: I expected the battery to continue to gradually fade away as it was doing. So I thought the battery would easily last another couple of years. I didn’t expect it to suddenly and without any warning of any kind fall off the face of the earth.

Second: The battery lasted us 8 years and about 4 months. It was warrantied for 8 years. Damn. But in that 8 years, the car was only driven just over 27,000 miles. So, I’m really sort of appalled that the car only lived 8 years/27k miles.

I’ve driven gasoline powered cars over 300,000 miles with little non-standard maintenance (Kermit my Acura Integra). If all EVs have this type of lifespan, driving electric is a bit less shiny from a cost perspective than it otherwise would be.

Nissan ended their $5,500 total cost battery replacement option in 2017. Today, to replace the battery would cost $8,500 plus labor! The car, while otherwise in very good shape (like new), is not worth that amount of money.

Third: And there is this to think about: The per mile cost of driving the car. Since we drive on sunshine (solar power charges our cars), the only cost per mile (besides the cost of the vehicle itself and tire expenses–no oil for an electric car) is the cost of the battery if you consider it a consumable instead of part of the cost of the car. If we sunk $9k into the car for a new battery, we would be spending 33 cents per miles if the battery lasted another 8 years. The last time gas cost 33 cents per gallon was in 1967.

So we are now wondering what to do.

Options

We only need another car in Atlanta for a few years. When Steve retires [He subsequently has retired.], we will go from three cars (in two cities) down to one or two cars in one location.

Sinking probably 9 grand into Chloe should make it run another 8 years or so. Maybe. Should we?

Is it time to buy some used little something?

Major Update

Well, as it turned out, the big battery that propels the car is not what died. The little 12volt battery is what died. We replaced it, and Chloe is as happy as ever! We are now zipping around town in our Nissan Leaf as if nothing ever happened.

Yay!


  1. which was short for chlorophyll, the “active ingredient” that makes leaves run on sunshine