Batteries are a pain. As they age, their ability to hold a charge deteriorates, they often die long before the product they power wears out, and they're expensive to replace, often as much as the product itself. This doesn't just apply to cell phones and other high tech gadgets, it's definitely applicable to the batteries found in electric vehicles.
Many people are holding off on making the move to electric since we still don't know much about how long EV batteries will last, and they're ridiculously expensive. Nobody wants to lock into a new car and find out the hard way that they need to refinance their house to replace the battery in it.
Smart thinks they may have found a solution, one that might reduce the anxiety felt by prospective EV buyers.
The manufacturer launched it's ForTwo Electric Drive coupe this week, but with a twist. Lowering purchase prices and monthly lease rates, Smart is allowing their customers to rent the car's battery. The company is hoping to assuage concerns about battery life, maintenance costs, repair expenses and range anxiety.
ForTwo Electric Drive buyers will be able to buy the car without the battery at a $5,100 savings. They will then pay $80 per month (plus taxes) which covers replacement if necessary and annual maintenance.
Lease customers get an even better deal, paying only $199 per month, with battery rental included. Rates are low because the car's residual value should be higher at the end of the lease when the battery is replaced.
The battery is guaranteed for up to 10 years, and the rental contract can be transferred to a new owner for up to 10 years without any mileage restrictions.
On top of these reduced purchase and lease rates, the car qualifies for a $7,500 tax credit in some jurisdictions.
From Smart's press release: "Purchase, finance, or lease a smart electric drive and we’ll rent you the battery, guaranteeing its capacity level and covering your annual battery maintenance costs for 10 years. And if you need a replacement battery during your rental term, it’s on us. How’s that for peace of mind?" - smart USA
For non-rental customers, Smart already offers a four year, 50,000 mile warranty that covers the battery if efficiency drops below 80 percent, the company will replace it.
Even before government tax credits and batter rental savings, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is the least expensive plug-in vehicle on the US market. A cabriolet version is available at a slightly higher price.
The 17.6 kWh lithium batteries made by Deutsche ACCUmotive get a (combined) range rating of 68 miles- 76 in the city and 59 on the highway. If the company's battery technology improves, owners will be allowed to switch their contract to the new battery, without experiencing any changes in rates or terms.
The same battery will run the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive car that hits dealerships next near, the only plug-in EV in the Mercedes line-up.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca