• Builds on existing Nissan Leaf battery warranty
  • Available to new and existing Leaf owners
  • Officially launches in first half of 2014

Nissan introduced a new program to provide replacement battery packs to owners and buyers of the Leaf electric vehicle (EV). The optional program, which is expected to launch in the first half of 2014, builds on the existing battery warranty and allows participants to have the Leaf's battery pack replaced for any reason. The cost will be about $100 per month.

Battery reliability remains a roadblock for some would-be EV buyers. Battery replacement for electric cars is expensive, and the newness of the technology can lead some shoppers to uncertainty about the future costs of maintaining their vehicles.

Nissan's new program removes that uncertainty, allowing owners to opt for a new battery pack at any time. It expands on the existing battery warranty, which currently covers degradation and defects in EV battery packs. Nissan covers Leaf batteries for five years or 60,000 miles against degradation of capacity, or the ability to hold a charge. If the battery pack's capacity falls below 70 percent during that term, Nissan will replace it. Furthermore, Nissan Leaf batteries are covered against defects for eight years or 100,000 miles.

In Europe, EV batteries are typically leased separately from the vehicle. Nissan says the new battery replacement program will be priced similarly to the European battery pack lease rates at about $100 per month.

Erik Gottfried, Nissan's director of electric vehicle sales and marketing, says the new program will give peace of mind to owners of the Leaf EV.

"This new battery program today affords more flexibility for the future so that customers can both upgrade to the latest available technology for their Leaf and enjoy more predictable vehicle operating costs," Gottfried said.

Of course, as more EVs arrive in America's driveways and roadways, drivers will become more comfortable with battery technology. The more miles drivers log in electric vehicles, the more they will understand the costs of operating and maintaining their vehicles.

What it means to you: Is uncertainty about battery life holding you back from making the leap to an EV? If so, it may be wise to choose the Leaf and buy into Nissan's new battery replacement plan when it becomes available.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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