Nissan Leaf Customers Get Battery Leasing Option In Europe

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2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

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In America, if you want a new electric car, you go to a dealer and buy one. You might have to wait a bit of course, but generally your money gets you access to both the car and its batteries.

In Europe, things are a little different. If you're Renault, you sell people a car and offer its batteries only on a lease. It alleviates the stress of potential catastrophic battery failure, they say (though they don't use exactly that turn of phrase).

Nissan is now taking the same route, with its freshly-launched 2013 Leaf.

In essence, the Leaf you buy in Europe is very similar to the Leaf you'll buy in the U.S. It even now has its own factory--just as Nissan now builds American Leafs in Tennessee, Nissan Europe now builds them in Sunderland, England.

There are three trim lines, more imaginatively-named than those in the U.S, but the concept is the same--a cheaper option (Visia), a mid-grade car (Acenta), and a fully-loaded Leaf (Tekna).

Where the car deviates from the U.S. Leaf is in how you're able to buy it.

You can still walk into a European Nissan dealer and buy a Leaf outright. In the UK, with the benefit of a $7,700 plug-in car grant from Her Majesty's government, an entry-level Leaf starts at $32,300 or so. This rises to $39,275 for a top-end car.

But rent the batteries, for $108 per month (over 36 months, with annual mileage of 7,500) and the price of entry drops to $24,600.

If you haven't a calculator handy, that's a saving of $7,700.

For a customer keeping the car for just those three years, it could prove good value. 36 months multiplied by $108 per month works out at $3,888, so for those three years a Leaf owner would save over $3,800. Or another three years of driving, safe in the knowledge Nissan will swap in a new battery in the event yours dies or drops any significant range.

They'd have to pay electricity costs on top of that of course, and they'd also be restricted to 7,500 miles per year against a UK average of 10,000-12,000 a year for a car of the Leaf's size.

But really it's about the purchase price. $24,600 slots neatly into the low end of the compact car market--only a token few Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golfs and others cost less in Europe, often with basic equipment levels and engines you'd not select if price wasn't a constraint.

Like the smaller Zoe from Nissan's partner Renault, battery leasing and aggressive pricing has put electric cars on a high-profile par with more conventional vehicles.

And whether you're a fan of battery leasing or not (and we know many of our readers aren't), it's an intriguing strategy. Whether it works or not remains to be seen.


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Comments (11)
  1. Options are always good.

    Personally I either want to buy the whole car, or lease the whole car though... plus I don't like the idea of being restricted in the number of miles that I can do per year.

  2. Leasing a battery is a BAD business model. People will shy away from not having total ownership.

  3. Evidence in France suggests different. In the first quarter Renault Zoe (battery lease) sold 1599 units; Nissan leaf (battery included)224 units.

    There is a reason Nissan is shifting to battery lease : the lower entry price really helps moving the merchandise. The legal system needs to be amenable to these lease constructions though that obligate people to keep leasing the battery for the duration of car ownership, even after the initial term expires. That might not be the case in the US.

  4. That leasing price wouldn't work in the US since you can lease a Leaf for only $139/month with that kind of mileage/year...

  5. I think they should give you the option of buying a battery protection plan just like the road hazard plan dealers sell you for unexpected tire damage. Road hazard protection plans pay for new tires when the tire is damaged, if they did a battery protection plan it could be setup to protect you against battery degradation or failure. Though a plan like this would probably be more realistic when the price of batteries drops below a certain price.

  6. I think it's a great idea. The Zoe battery lease also includes a recovery service in case you run out of juice. You're also not limited in what you're allowed to drive per year, since you have several mileage tarifs. But I think the biggest benefit comes once you want to sell the car eventually. A new buyer doesn't have to worry about the battery, wondering if he might have to shelf out around 10K to 15K for a new battery within a few years, or whether he himself will ever be able to resell the car with a 10 year old battery. On top of that there might be the possibility (although Renault hasn't confirmed yet) one can upgrade to a bigger battery later on. Treating the battery as an expendable sounds like the smart thing to do.

  7. I like the idea of a battery protection Plan, presumably just a form of insurance policy to cover bad things happening. In some ways the makers already do some of this, but being able to buy additional protection would be good.

  8. A battery lease provides an interesting opportunity for improvement of the battery later on. Of course, if you don't renew the lease, you're left with essential a 'vehicle glider' (rolling chassis with no motive power).

  9. bluecar in Italy does this with an unlimited miles lease of the battery for about $100 a month. The car is then only about $12K, the LEAF should be about $14K with that lease.

    Batteries should be $100 a month with the unlimited miles and a replacement if it can't go 100 Miles. Oh, by the way the bluecar has a range of 155 miles on a charge. It uses supercapacitors in parallel with the lithium batteries. That's the most advanced design in the world !

  10. check out true review of this car :

  11. "safe in the knowledge Nissan will swap in a new battery in the event yours dies or drops any significant range."

    What is the basis for this sentence? Doesn't Nissan warrant the battery in either case? What is the supposed advantage of renting then?

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