When the smart fortwo electric drive goes on sale in the US next month (at a base price of $25,750), buyers will have the option of renting the battery for a monthly fee.
Is leasing an EV battery, instead of including it in the purchase price of a car, the way to go? That’s the question that many in the EV media have been asking, since Smart and Nissan recently announced that they will offer battery leasing options.
When the smart fortwo electric drive goes on sale in the US next month (at a base price of $25,750), buyers will have the option of renting the battery for a monthly fee. Smart hasn’t announced a price for the battery leasing option, but in Europe, renting the battery means a discount of about $7,000 from the $30,400 starting price, and a monthly battery rental fee of 65 euros (about $83).
Tracey Matura, head of smart USA, told AutoblogGreen that some 97 percent of buyers have opted to rent the battery since the electric two-seater went on sale in Europe last fall. “We thought, why not offer the same in the US?”
Meanwhile, Nissan is now offering a battery leasing option on the 2013 LEAF in the UK. The British LEAF, now being produced at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, comes in three trim levels starting at about £26,000. Leasing the battery knocks five grand off the purchase price, and monthly lease fees range from £70 to £129 a month.
The pioneer of the battery leasing concept was Renault. Buyers of any of the French automaker’s four electric models (which aren’t sold in the US), must lease the battery, at a cost that ranges from 50 to 148 euros per month, depending on the model and the yearly distance travelled.
It’s hard to say whether the policy is a success or not, but CAP, a UK supplier of automotive industry data, is not pleased with it. The company says that the leasing model makes it difficult to forecast used values, and has refused to include Renault’s EVs in its price data, according to The Green Car Website.