This article may or may not teach our loyal readers much. But we made a point of dealing with it again in 2020 in the face of an observation: many motorists still think that an electric car battery is necessarily rented.
Perceived as an unavoidable scenario
Whether on the Web, in particular in various forums that deal with subjects not directly related to electromobility, or during real meetings with people who still know little about the subject, we still too often hear: “Me, the car electric it does not interest me because it is expensive and you still have to rent the battery! “.
Those who think this way do not distinguish between brands. For them, this is the business plan imposed on all manufacturers and the scenario is seen as unavoidable. Most often, these are people over 55, men and women, who use the Internet very little, and for whom the automobile is above all a tool for getting around.
Renault, Smart and Bolloré
Three brands have in the past marketed electric cars in France to individuals by requiring the rental of the battery.
Renault is the best known for this, with its bestseller Zoé on the market. Its numerous advertisements and communications for the versatile electric and the other models in the range (Kangoo, Fluence and Twizy at the start) ended up making many French people think that renting a battery was mandatory when buying an EV.
The French manufacturer has held this position firmly for a very long time, ignoring widespread hostile opinions regretting this rigidity. As for the occasional charging cable, the Losange ended up relaxing in the spring of 2018 its sales policy on the subject by including a full purchase offer.
Some time earlier, Smart, which also required battery rental for its plugged-in Fortwo, had also allowed full purchase of the model.
History will remember less than Bolloré did the same for its Bluecar and Bluesummer. Rebadged with chevrons, the latter also flowed exclusively in this way at Citroën under the name e-Méhari. Real commercial flaws with motorists, these last 3 models have disappeared from dealerships in nine, making it possible to definitively turn the page of this practice in France.
From now on, no manufacturer of electric passenger cars (excluding machines classified as heavy or light quadricycles) requires the rental of the battery. They can therefore be purchased in full or leased in full. Sometimes the mixed formula – purchase of the car and rental of the battery – is offered, but as an additional offer, without any obligation.
Why was the rental of the battery imposed?
Renault has always mainly justified the obligation to lease the battery by uncertainty and a lack of perspective on the life of the pack and its aging scenario. The Losange was advancing a very cautious minimum of 5 years of operation.
And after ? The manufacturer invariably argued that the rental was therefore a restful guarantee for buyers of the ZOE, and the other models in the Z.E. In the event of failure and significant degradation of storage capacity (between 25 and 28% loss depending on the contract), the battery would be changed at no cost to the owner of one of the vehicles concerned.
Renault even added that its strategy should allow the price of machinery to hold up well during second-hand resale. This last point does not really hold true today when we compare the ZOE in this market to other models that appeared in the early 2010s and for which battery rental was not compulsory.
And why is she no longer?
Usage has shown that a battery is largely usable over 10 or 12 years, depending on usage. All the more so with increasing energy capacities which still guarantee between 100 and 200 km of autonomy, even with a degradation of around 30% of the storage value. Renault therefore no longer has a really justifiable reason to impose the rental of the battery. By changing its trade policy, the manufacturer is not contradicting itself.
It is also probable that the Losange evaluated the loss in sales of the Zoé which represented its strict position. Many potential buyers have indicated that they have purchased an electric car from a competing brand in order to avoid the rental of the pack. The latter saw it as a trap that would have forced them to always pay the rents, even in the event of prolonged immobilization of the vehicle (breakdown, accident, no more or less temporary use), the impossibility of reselling it, etc.
Projections that have diverted many prospects from the French electric bestseller to a very wide range of models ranging from the Peugeot iOn to the Tesla Model S.
8 year warranty
With the full purchase, Renault and Smart guarantee their battery for 8 years, or on cumulative mileage. The latter is respectively 160,000 and 100,000 kilometers for the Zoe and the Fortwo.
This difference does not mean that the Daimler subsidiary is less generous than the Losange or less assured of the lifespan of its lithium-ion cells. It would even be the opposite, if we disregard that these batteries also degrade with the sole lifespan (even without using the vehicle).
With a lower energy capacity, 17.6 compared to 52 kWh, the two-seater must be recharged more often. Clearly, when the Zoe travels 400 km according to the WLTP mixed cycle, the Fortwo does 135 at best. It must therefore be recharged 3 times to swallow the 400 km.
At Renault, the warranty therefore provides for an annual accumulation of 20,000 km. To have this freedom in Zoe, with the rental of the pack, you would have to subscribe to the Z.E. Relax unlimited km, at 124 euros per month. That is 11,904 euros in rent after 8 years.
Almost 12,000 euros, that’s the price of peace of mind for fans of the leased battery!
To compare, we are missing one piece of data: the price of a new 52 kWh pack in 8 years.