Well the discussion at EV club this month has centered around two issues for the Leaf.
First a slowdown in sales this year. Clearly they are down from 2011- the year one for the Leaf. I originally believed the issue was Nissan constraining supply because of the extreme weakness of the dollar to the yen. At least one dealer in discussions has admitted though that they are not selling as well and they are on the lot longer. While various pro C02 folks claim the vehicle is the problem I lean towards the fact the Leaf buyers tend to do deep research. After all the car is expensive if well appointed and basically we buyers really check out everything we can find on bleeding edge (grin) of technology before we jump. As I advised here months ago the 2013 will be made in the US, have half the charge time required, and have a heater that doesn't hammer range in the winter. Those improvements are a big deal. This is all published and can be easily found. While I was asked and did hold some of this information when first told, basically all this information was available in print in late Dec '11 - plenty of time to slow buyers.
One more point is the US made batteries and US made cars - will this allow a price drop on the 2013 Leaf? Ghosn - the Nissan CEO has said in the press his Leaf price target in five years was the VW Golf price. That's 17-28k so with incentives they are close but I would not expect incentives to last beyond the next two-three years, so eventually thats head to head.
Makes sense when you read industry analysis that Lithium ion batteries are rapidly dropping in price and are projected to drop tremendously during the decade. Makes sense, lithium turns out to be plentiful, easily recycled, and have several extraction options. While current production is low in the US it turns out we have large amounts. Oil shills pass around a dated study clearly backed by the petrol folks claiming we are hurting on Lithium. Not true and this bourn out by the price. Name me a scarce resource we are running out of whose price has dropped by 10% this year.
Second topic is more serious. All major battery chemistries to date have limited lifespan and lose capacity. This is true of Lithium. It's important the Leaf make it's stated goals of 8 year 100k mark with 80% capacity intact. For me that means my 5 year loan has been over for three years and I've saved 10k for a replacement (hopefully improved!) at about half my current payments for three years. Hey- its a plan. This isn't a problem for folks who lease or trade in but I tend to keep a car til it dies.
In Arizona though several owners of year old cars are reporting 10% loss in a year. They have 115 degree days and this appears to accelerate battery capacity loss. For the moment on any day predicted to be 100 or greater in Maryland I'm just charging to 80% which is one way to prevent loss with heat. Still it's worrisome as I'm counting on no more then 2.5% loss a year.
Will keep you posted on that - no one has yet to really research it but a lot of discussion is flying.
PS & BTW - They may be discounting 2012's as this continues - I'll post what I hear.