Battery leasing – baking in problems or better care of resources?

23rd November 2022

Altelium’s Business Development Manager, Alex Johns, considers if through battery leasing, we’re baking in problems for the future or taking better care of resources?

It would seem incredibly odd to buy a petrol or diesel car, with the engine itself leased to you separately.  The car buyer in this situation might think this means the engine will need to be swapped out sooner than the rest of the car. 

This is what battery leasing suggests to EV car buyers.   However, batteries are proven to last much longer than drivers expect. 

I know this from both scientific testing at Altelium’s Bat Lab at Lancaster University, and my own personal experience managing a fleet of Teslas at Gatwick Airport. Each vehicle under my management still had 82% of its original capacity or ‘State of Health’ at 300,000 miles.  The rest of each car was in significantly worse condition than the batteries.  

So why are we seeing leasing options on batteries, such as on the Toyota bZ4X or Renault vehicles?  

The approach now is all about keeping hold of the resources in the batteries, or taking responsibility for them, so that battery second life or end of life can be managed by the manufacturer.   

But does the consumer understand this and is the market conveying this loudly and clearly enough? My concern is that we are still giving the impression that the batteries won’t last. 

And equally importantly, are we baking in a new set of problems for batteries if we lease them in cars? 

There is a challenge regarding the alignment of interests with battery management. If the driver doesn’t own the battery (or EV) they may not be as inclined to look after it and maximise its longevity, health or residual value.   

This creates a challenge for asset owners to find a way to motivate the asset users, the driver, to ensure it is driven, charged and maintained in a way that is most in the interests of the owners. 

Altelium monitors and assesses batteries throughout their lives. This gives accurate information from which behavioural strategies can be built. Vehicle black boxes which bring about changes to insurance premiums have worked well at influencing the behaviour of young drivers. Might something similar be possible for EV drivers and their subscription rates? 

This would both protect the asset – the battery – and give the message to consumers that batteries can and should be cared for to protect their health, and as a consequence protect the world’s resources.  A better battery message surely?