Chinese automaker Nio plans to offer customers the option of leasing the battery packs in electric cars. Announced in a press release Thursday, this “battery as a service” model involves purchasing the car outright, but paying a monthly fee for use of the battery pack.
Nio plans to charge the equivalent of about $140 a month (at current exchange rates) for the battery subscription—with no battery included in return for $10,100 off the vehicle’s sale price.
The subscription option will be available in China on 70-kilowatt-hour battery packs for the ES8, ES6, and EC6 models.
This could be a game-changer, and a way to get around both the high price of EVs and their plunging depreciation, which is closely linked to concerns about the battery pack. And the battery pack alone can cost $15,000 or more in some long-range or premium models.
2019 Nio ES8 and ES6
Could this model work in the United States? It’s is a question we’ve asked for a long time, as we’ve watched it tried on a small-scale basis by some automakers.
For a time, Smart offered something like this idea on its Fortwo Electric Drive—dubbed “Battery Assurance Plus.”
In Europe, Renault offered a battery upgrade on its Zoe on a lease basis. And sibling brand Nissan offered a battery-lease option in Europe as well.
Swapping and upgrading is the other great advantage. Nio has had a high level of success with battery swapping in China, so we’re eager to see how these two ideas fit together—and if it could possibly reach other markets like the U.S.