Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt NEWS ANALYSIS: Renault sticks with EV battery lease plans
Cookies on Businesscar

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Business Car website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookies at any time

BusinessCar magazine website email Awards mobile

The start point for the best source of fleet information

NEWS ANALYSIS: Renault sticks with EV battery lease plans

Date: 05 October 2010

Despite concerns expressed by the industry, the French brand is pressing ahead with separately leasing the batteries for its new range of electric vehicles, writes Paul Barker

Renault is calling for leasing companies to embrace its electric vehicle plans as the first EVs begin to close in on production.

The firm is sticking to its principle of leasing the battery itself, separate from the vehicle, which can either be bought outright or leased from a leasing company in the traditional way.

The French brand's first EV arrives next autumn in the form of the Kangoo van (driven on page 16), which will be priced at £16,990 excluding VAT, without any help from the £5000 Government subsidy as it doesn't apply to commercial vehicles. The electric vehicle range expands early in 2012, when the lower medium Fluence and quadricycle Twizy arrive, with the supermini Zoe also on sale by the middle of 2012 (see panel, right).

Renault's UK electric vehicle programme boss, Andy Heiron, said the firm isn't looking to lease the vehicles itself, and will either sell them direct to clients, or, if they have existing lease arrangements, will attempt to work with the leasing company. Heiron is, though, concerned by the reaction of some leasing companies to electric vehicles.

"I don't think we'll sell into ones and twos - butcher, baker and candlestick maker - it will be significant tranches of vehicles into big brand names with clear low-carbon agendas," he said. "With contract hire overall there is a lot of scepticism about it - there are some contract hire firms taking the view that unless you can own the battery they're not prepared to countenance EVs, and there are some who are taking more of a position of how can we make this work?"

He said Renault is trying to work through the issues with lease companies, but one or two have followed the lead of residual value expert Cap, which has set its position out as refusing to quote an RV for a vehicle unless the battery is included as part of the one deal. Renault anticipates battery life will be eight-10 years, and then it sees an additional five years of life in a secondary use for electricity storage in industry or domestically. "The danger of the purchasing route for batteries, is the six- or seven-year value will be extremely questionable as there will be a huge cost looming," said a spokesman.

"There will be no buy-back deals or underwriting - the biggest unknown or risk is the battery so we're taking that risk on their behalf," said Heiron. "Part of the remit of leasing companies is to take an element of the risk. They have approached us about it and we said 'no', though it was a natural discussion to have."

If customers purchase outright, it will negate these issues, but Heiron said solutions will have to be sought in the coming months for fleets that lease.

"If they outright purchase then it's simple, but if they contract hire then it brings in another partner," he said. "We need to work with leasing companies to make it happen, and respect the relationships out there and work with those people. Contract hire companies will have to recognise that if there is pressure from their customers for EVs they will have to work it out." The battery lease will be around £70-£80 per month.

Renault's goal is, with subsidiary Nissan, to become "front of mind" for EVs, said a spokesman, drawing parallels with what Toyota has achieved with hybrids. The basis for EV introduction is "mass-market affordability for all" in an attempt to establish them as a credible alternative to traditionally fuelled vehicles, although even with that, the market is only predicted to account for 10% of new car and van sales in the UK by 2020.

Renault's first four EV models

Kangoo Van ZE

On sale: Autumn 2011

Price: £16,990

Range: 100 miles

Maximum power: 44kW

Maximum speed: 81mph

The first Renault EV is the commercial vehicle Kangoo, which has batteries placed under the floor to avoid encroaching on the load space. There is no Government subsidy as it's a commercial vehicle, and though there are no plans yet for a passenger Kangoo ZE, it hasn't been ruled out.

Fluence ZE

On sale: Early 2012

Price: £22,000 (est.)

Range: 100 miles

Maximum power: 70kW

Maximum speed: 84mph

The most important business car electric vehicle in Renault's forthcoming line-up, the Fluence, is effectively a Megane saloon. Half of sales are expected to be into the fleet sector.

Twizy ZE

On sale: Early 2012

Price: £5000 (est.)

Range: 60 miles

Maximum power: 15kW

Maximum speed: 45mph

The crazy-looking two-seat quadricycle won't be subject to the Government's electric vehicle subsidy as it's not going through the same approval process as cars and vans. Aimed at the top-end scooter market, there will also be a one-seat cargo-spec version for local deliveries.

Zoe ZE

On sale: Mid 2012

Price: £15,000 (est.)

Range: 100 miles

Maximum power: 70kW

Maximum speed: 80mph

The attractive supermini Zoe, pictured here in concept form close to the production version, is where Renault has the most volume ambitions. Although heavily retail, the manufacturer is also looking at pool car and rental applications, and the 100-mile range may be improved before launch.