Friday, April 5, 2013

Electric shock for Renault over battery leasing quarrel

SUPPOSE for a moment, you’re on the verge of buying a secondhand Clio. It comes stashed with service history, it’s in great condition and mileage-wise it’s still got plenty of life left in it, but as you settle on the price it seems there’s a snag.

“Oh, you want the engine as well, sir?” the salesman enquires politely. “Sorry, you have to pay extra for that.”

Understandably, you’d be pretty miffed if you had to pay extra to have the privilege of having something to propel your pride and joy, and that’s exactly why used car gurus CAP have had a bit of a falling out with Renault lately. They’re refusing to give secondhand values for the French firm’s range of electric vehicles… …because anyone who buys one has to lease the batteries separately.

Martin Ward, CAP’s manufacturer relationship manager, said: “We have every confidence in the quality and reliability of the Renault Zoe. We have seen it, driven it, lived with it and its 90 mile range means it definitely has a place in fleets for shorter range driving purposes.

“But until Renault removes the unnecessary layer of complexity caused by treating the battery as a separate entity to the car CAP will be unable to forecast its used values so fleets can work out competitive lease rates. In our opinion it is now time for Renault to give some great electric vehicles they have worked hard to develop and refine a real chance in the company car market by abandoning its ‘battery not included’ policy.”

I’ve driven by far the quirkiest of Renault’s electric offerings, the two-seater Twizy, and stand by my original verdict that it’s brilliant. In fact, I loved it so much that – and I don’t do this often – seriously thought about buying one as a fun, frugal commuter car to go to work in, but it was the very fact you have to lease the batteries separately that put me off. I own a mobile phone, a tablet, and an MP3 player which all have batteries which I don’t have to lease. 

Why should it be any different with a battery-powered car?

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