Why some companies want you to rent the battery in your EV

If you want to own that battery, and you don’t want to visit swap stations, your vehicle will cost you roughly $58,500. If, on the other hand, you prefer to lease the battery, you’ll pay just under $50,000 up front , plus a monthly fee of $135. (The costs are all a bit higher if you opt for the 100 kWh battery, but the idea is the same.) For that monthly fee, you get a couple of swaps or a set amount of rapid charging.

It would take you just over five years to start paying more in the monthly fee than you would have paid with the up-front option, and most EVs on the roads today have battery warranty coverage for eight to 10 years.

The implications

I’m fascinated by this potential shift in ownership for batteries, and I think if the vision turns out to be the reality, there are a lot of potential upsides.

The ability to rent batteries could mean less stress about battery degradation for driversaccording to Fei Shen, the VP of power management at Nio. “It’s not necessary for them to worry about it at all, because they can swap this battery at any time, whenever they want,” he says.

And for the company, it’s easier to track and service batteries. “If we find some potential problems, we can keep this battery in our swap station and do the maintenance,” Shen says. The same goes for reclaiming batteries for recycling at the end of their lifetime, he adds.

Then there’s the possibility of customization: drivers could opt for a smaller-capacity battery and upgrade only before longer trips, for example. That could cut costs and even reduce the total quantity of materials needed to build batteries for EV fleets.

But on the flip side, some EV experts aren’t so sure the battery-swapping picture would turn out quite so rosy.

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