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Nissan Leafs Have Problems Starting... And Not Just Because The Electricity's Drained

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On: Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 9:11AM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Leafs Have Problems Starting... And Not Just Because The Electricity's Drained

Well, this isn't good news for Nissan. After getting off to a rather sluggish start in terms of sales, the Leaf, Nissan's much-hyped electric vehicle, has been experiencing problems with starting. Those few customers who have bought the Leaf have reported that it sometimes fails to start. Nissan announced that it is launching an official probe into the matter.

Nissan says that the problem is limited to a select number of Leaf models and that it is caused by a sensor in the air conditioning unit. Models in both the U.S. and Japan have experienced problems.

The company explained in a statement: "Nissan has recently become aware of an issue on a small number of Nissan Leafs with a sensor in the air-conditioning system. If this sensor is activated, it will illuminate a warning light on the instrument panel and may cause the vehicle to not restart once it has been turned off. We are actively investigating to determine the root cause and what action is necessary to address the issue."

Nissan says that the Leaf's engine will not shut down during driving and the problem, therefore, does not pose a safety hazard. No problems, unless, of course, you're relying on your Nissan Leaf to escape an armed stalker or herd of wild animals.

The issue is not an ideal situation in terms of the Leaf's public image. The Leaf, which launched late last year at roughly the same time as the Chevy Volt, already suffers from range anxiety—the feeling that an electric car that promises only 100 miles of driving per charge could leave you stranded. With this new problem relating to the engine starting, the Leaf could leave you stranded even when it's fully charged.

After taking 20,000 reservations for the Leaf last year and having a positive media campaign focused on the car's efficiency and the fact that it was the first mass-produced EV, Nissan Leaf sales have been slow. The company previously indicated that it is unlikely to sell all 20,000 models this year, and that only about 40 percent of reservees have been following through with buying the Leaf. Estimates put the number of Leafs sold in the U.S. through March at around 450; about half of the 928 Volts Chevy had sold through February.


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