Because electric cars require costly batteries, these vehicles are currently relegated to those that can afford the high cost of entry for a vehicle with a limited range. The Holy Grail of battery technology is a pack that offers over $200 miles of range in a package under $25,000. A new report suggests that French car company (and Nissan partner) Renault is working on a second-generation battery pack for the Zoe EV that could offer about 220 miles of driving range in a vehicle that currently costs around €15,000, or about $20,000.
That’s about the same range as the Tesla Roadster or base Model S offer, but at over three-times the price. An EV with a range of over 200 miles will satisfy most people’s daily driving needs, and at a price point that most Americans would find easy to swallow. The secret is that, unlike Nissan and its Leaf, Renault leases the battery to customers, rather than sell the whole package, at a cost of €100, or about $125, per month.
So while the Nissan Leaf starts at €30,000, the much-cheaper Zoe cuts that price in half. And if Renault can deliver on its promise of a 200+ mile battery at a compact car price point, it might convince other manufacturers to do the same. At current gas prices in the U.S., $125 is two, maybe three fill-ups depending on how big your fuel tank is and what gasoline costs in your area. Even if you add in the cost of electricity, the electric vehicle will remain competitive, or even cheaper than, petrol powered cars and even most hybrids.
At first I wasn’t a fan of the battery-leasing idea. But I might be changing my mind. Leasing the battery could bring in more money than the upfront cost of the car over the long term, while making the vehicle more accessible to a wider audience. This might just be the way to go, and if the French can do it, so can we.