/ Motoring

Battery leasing could be the making of electric cars

Electric car symbol on car

As the electric car market begins to gather steam (or should that be amperes?), it presents a lot of new choices for drivers – not least, how to pay for one of these expensive eco cars. Is battery leasing the answer?

I touched on this when I presented the consumer view on eco cars at the RAC Foundation’s ‘Shades of Green’ event last week.

Put simply, I said most people wouldn’t start switching to eco cars until it will save them money (yes, I know it’s meant to be about saving the planet, but past behaviour suggests most of us are just as keen to save cash).

Right now, with electric cars like the Nissan Leaf costing nearly £26,000 (and that’s after the £5k government grant), there’s no financial incentive to switch. Even when you factor in the ultra-low running costs of using electricity instead of petrol or diesel, it still doesn’t offset the eye-watering purchase price.

Battery anxiety

And then there’s depreciation to worry about. Nobody knows exactly how electric cars will fare on the second-hand market – it’s too soon to tell. But industry experts CAP and Glass’s have both made predictions, and it’s not great news if you’re buying a Nissan Leaf.

Both trade guides expect the Leaf to retain around £9,500 of its list price after three years and 36,000 miles – between 35 and 37% of the original £26k. And the depreciation gets noticeably steeper after year two, when concerns about needing to replace the battery pack (at the cost of several thousand pounds) will inevitably start preying on second-hand buyers’ minds.

You’ve probably heard of ‘range anxiety’ with electric cars, but I’d say this ‘battery anxiety’ could be just as big an issue. In fact, new research from Glass’s suggests that buying an electric car with the battery included (Nissan Leaf-style) is probably not the way forward. It means buyers of the car (first- or second-hand) face a big financial risk around the longevity of the battery.

Battery leasing could work

So how do you get the second-hand buyers of tomorrow to take a punt on a used electric car? Renault believes the answer is to ask the buyer to lease the expensive battery pack.

By doing this, Renault hopes to be able to sell its forthcoming Fluence electric car for a very competitive £18,000 (after grant). And while the buyer will be expected to pay a monthly fee for battery rental, it will be easily affordable (especially given what you’d save on fuel).

With Renault and Nissan being sister companies, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Nissan moves to battery leasing if it proves successful for the Fluence – watch this space.

I was pretty sceptical about the concept of buying a car and then having to lease the battery, but I think I’m coming round to the idea… Maybe we’ll have to get used to it if we want affordable electric cars.

Comments
Member

As far as I’m concerned Battery Leasing is only part of the answer, It still means that people who do not have charging points (or garages) at home will still have to wait hours to charge the car at a public charging point. Not for me.

I think the only real answer is to have replacement charged batteries at garages.

But until the purchase price is similar to a cheap petrol car – I don’t think they will be popular at all.

Member

Unless there is an economic and technological breakthrough in battery design it’s all going to go horribly wrong.
Until this beakthrough happens it might be better to adapt existing engine types to run on more kinds of sustainable fuel. Bio diesel and bio ethanol works already so why mess with heavy, short life battery powered cars? The recharge power mostly at the moment coming from fossil powered energy production? No real gain there anyway?
Why also not develop bio produced methane to run cars, or hydrogen. Far more preferable to electric battery powered cars.

Member

Bio fuels use fields that previously grew food, definitely NOT sustainable.

Methane is a credible option (Top gear ran cars on cow poo and human poo) but gas extraction and compression is the big issue there.

Hydrogen is a great option, but is just too expensive to produce and transport, despite it being one of the most abundant sources in the universe.

Battery power has been stuck in the dark ages for as long as I can remember, the new lithium ion (?) batteries are an improvement, but not a game changing one.

It seems to me that everything in terms of eco cars is just hot air until there is an investment in the infrastructure. Chicken and Egg I feel.

I also think that we shouldn’t discount the power of the oil companies to maintain the status quo 😉

Member

Completely agree with Dean – would also add – Bio fuels are being grown now by destroying forests – so destroying wildlife – hardly a “Green” idea at all.

I am seriously in favour of a methane fuel as methane is a major contributor to global warming through domestic animal emissions (both gas and solid) – to harness those emissions in some way would be great. However I’m not in favour of Hydrogen because it is a seriously explosive element and I do not think it safe for road use.

I agree with investment in infrastructure too – I once did a lecture in the 1970s postulating the idea of electro-magnetic induction as a means of powering cars in the future with radar controlled positioning detection, But nobody took up my idea!! 🙂

Member

Yes growing bio fuel does take up land that could be used to grow food.
But perhaps this a clue to the real problem with planet Earth. Currently 6.5 billion locust like humans. Some predict that this will reach 10 billion in the not too distant future, what then? Dig up rain forests to grow rice and wheat? And what when population grows to 15 billion?
Or, control population growth now, eventually reduce global population, grow some bio fuel and still have land to feed a planetary sustainable number of people?
Get our little blue space ball back in balance.

Member

Chris – Completely agree – but sadly some of the countries with the largest and fastest growing populations are the least likely to control populations.

But it is the only answer – apart from large scale wars.- or “Solent Green”

I am seriously concerned about the effect of bio-fuel production on our global wildlife habitation.

Member
Mike Heathcote says:
22 November 2016

It’s a while since this thread was last posted on but I thought I’d add my two penneth. I like cars and driviing but when I think about it, most of my car journeys throughout my life have been local. Now with traffic congestion around every corner, I think carefully before getting into the car and take the train when I can. I reckon most people use the car for short journeys such as going to the shops. This is a sad indictment of the human condition-many are just too impatient and/or lazy. That electric cars are short range won’t be a problem for most people, and short stop/start journeys ruin petrol and diesel engines. Society, and the planet, is crying out for electric cars. Today’s petrol and diesel engines require turbo’s, dpf filters, dual mass flywheels, catalytic converters all to try to make them more economical or environmentally friendly, and as a consequence they are less reliable and more expensive to fix. As far as the workaday car is concerned, I reckon the age of the internal combustion engine is coming to an end.