Bolloré has recently announced that its will offer its electric Bluecar for just 12,000 Euros and then lease the battery pack separately, making the plug-in more accessible and offering more protection to customers if there's ever battery trouble. In that post, I wrote that it would be interesting to see that model being used by other electric car makers, even if just as one of many options, because while EVs have lower operating costs, their upfront price tag is still a hinderance to mass adoption. Well, I didn't expect to have my wish granted this quickly! Nissan UK has just announced what they call a "flex" model which does exactly that.
The general idea is pretty simple: You can now, for example, buy an entry level LEAF electric car for £20,990 after incentives, or you can buy the same model for £15,990 and then lease the battery starting at £70.00/month (up to £129.00/month for a 1-year lease and the maximum mileage allowance -- see below).
While the idea is very good, I'm not sure if the price difference is big enough. £5,000 is a lot of money (7,600 USD), but I would have loved to see an even bigger differential. Maybe it's a UK pricing thing, though; I'm not very familiar with vehicle pricing over there, and maybe if the model comes to North-America there will be a bigger advantage to leasing the battery.
New and improved UK-built 2013 LEAFNissan now produces LEAFs in the UK at its Sunderland plant, and the 2013 version of the electric car has many improvements over the previous generation: The NEDC driving range has been extended from 175 kms to 199 kms (109 miles to 124 miles) thanks to weight reduction, improvements to the electric motor and inverter, and a bunch of other tweak. There's also a new optional on-board 6.6kW fast charger halves the time needed for a complete battery recharge.
They've also beefed up the battery warranty: "The warranty on the previous-generation LEAF's battery covered it against defective materials or workmanship for five years. The extended warranty also protects against capacity loss, with a commitment to repair or replace a battery which falls short of what might reasonably be expected." Of course, there's a lot of fine print, but it's still an improvement.