Despite being the top-selling electric vehicle around the world, Nissan Leaf sales have not soared as expected. No doubt this is largely the fault of its expensive battery pack, which accounts for much (if not all) of the price premium. But Nissan’s business partner, Renault, has decided to lease the batteries, rather than include them in the price. Might Nissan do the same?
It’s a very distinct possibility, especially in Europe, where Renault’s Zoe EV will go on sale for about €15,700. The Nissan Leaf, by comparison, costs a jaw-dropping €36,990. In American dollars, that is a price difference of about $21,000 for the Renault, and over $49,000 for the Nissan. Renault will charge €70, or about $93 a month, to lease the battery.
No wonder people are holding out against the Leaf, and instead waiting for the Zoe (a technological cousin to the Leaf), which is much, much, much cheaper. That isn’t all though; Renault is also producing the world’s cheapest EV, the Twizy, a city vehicle that won’t even require a license to drive when it hits markets in 2013. It will sell at about €6,200, or about $8,720. It will be limited to a top speed of just 28 mph, but the target audience of city dwellers will rarely have need to go faster.
In an interview with AutoCar, Andy Heiron, head of Renault’s British EV program, says that there is a “fundamental problem” with electric car sales. He notes that while the Leaf has 60% of the UK market, that still amounts to only about 1,000 cars in the whole country. Heiron says that Nissan is thinking about a battery “hire”, or leasing system, similar to Renault. Here in America, that would drop the cost of the Leaf substantially, and give would-be-buyers like myself another option. Nissan wants to sell 1.5 million EV’s by 2016. If they want to hit that goal, they need to start cranking up production, and soon.
I know I initially came out against battery leasing programs, but the reality of electric vehicle prices leave few other options in the short term of cutting prices. It’d be a lot easier for me to pay $25,000 for a Leaf, and an additional $100-a-month battery lease, then shelling out the full $36,000+ for a Leaf (or Volt, or Focus Electric, or what have you). It would also alleviate some of the worry about battery life spans and warranties; if you are leasing it, it’s not your problem. It’s the car companies.
How do you feel about battery leasing options? Would it make cheaper EV’s more appealing to you?