Official: Renault Says ‘No’ To Battery Purchase For ZOE Electric Car

If you want to buy an all-electric Renault of any sort, be it the stylish ZOE hot hatch, Twizy two-seat runabout or Kangoo minivan, you’ll have to be content with buying the car but renting the battery pack directly from Renault. At least, in most European countries, that is.

Renault says battery leasing is here to stay... outside of Norway, that is.

Renault says battery leasing is here to stay… outside of Norway, that is.

This week, several sites have carried the rumor that amidst falling sales figures and tough competition from rival electric cars like the Nissan LEAF, Renault was considering a switch away from its mandated battery rental model. Having talked to Renault ourselves however, we can confirm that for the French automaker, battery rental is here to stay.

The rumor

Originating from InsideEVs, the rumor suggested that Renault was looking to boost its low electric car sales figures by switching from an unpopular battery rental system — where owners pay a monthly rental charge to Renault in exchange for guaranteed battery reliability, service and life — to a sales model in which the battery is included in the price of the vehicle.

Citing an interview between the New York Times and Jérôme Stoll, head of sales for Renault, InsideEVs suggested that a recently-introduced low-useage rental tariff for ZOE drivers was a sign that battery rental would soon give way to more traditional purchase models.

This was already apparent, the site said, because Renault was already offering its ZOE electric car in Norway with the battery pack included. Here’s what the site predicted:

Our prediction is that slowly but surely Renault will abandon the battery rental program in favor of outright selling its EVs.  The automaker’s dwindling EV sales will convince it to make the switch. As nearly all of of our commenters have mentioned, this battery rental idea is what’s holding Renault back.  Look for it to change soon.

Norway “A special case”

Having talked to Renault directly, we can tell you that its decision to sell the ZOE electric car in Norway with the battery pack included is an exception to the rule.That’s because Norway offers the best purchase incentives in the world for anyone buying an electric car, including zero purchase tax, free parking and charging, and permission to drive your electric car in bus lanes.

The Renault Zoe is available in Norway with its battery included.

The Renault Zoe is available in Norway with its battery included.

Under existing law, Renault’s battery lease model would be eligible for the usual Value Added Tax (VAT) added to the price of services and goods in Norway, because it would be offered separate from the car. In order to compete directly with its rivals in the marketplace, Renault made the decision in Norway to sell the car with the battery pack, enabling it to be eligible for the special tax exemption.

Leasing to remain for other markets

“We still see battery rental as the most advantageous solution for customers,” said Renault in an official email to Transport Evolved yesterday. “However, battery leasing is as a whole excluded from the Norwegian incentive. In so far as the evolution of this principle is not planned for 2014, our position is less favorable than on all other markets.”

It’s worth pointing out too that outright battery purchase is only offered by Renault on its ZOE electric car. Since the Kangoo Z.E. is a commercial vehicle and therefore its owners can claim back any VAT added to the battery rental, Renault still operates a battery lease model for its Kangoo Z.E. customers in Norway.

Similarly, the tiny Twizy, technically a quadricycle rather than a car, does not fall under the same incentives as full-size electric cars. As a consequence it too is offered with battery leasing instead of purchasing in Norway.

For now then, the message is clear: Renault still believes the best way of offering affordable electric cars is to sell customers the cars but lease them the battery packs. And it isn’t about to ditch the battery rental model for outright ownership.

Will it ever? That’s a tough one, but if our conversations with Renault executives over the past few years are anything to go by, we’d say battery rental for all of Renault’s electric fleet is around to stay. 

But which do you prefer, and why?  Have you been put off buying a Renault because of the battery lease price? Or do you think leasing the battery is the best way to ensure you’ll never be left with a dead battery?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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  • Fernando M

    And what about this Nikki?:nn

    • Fernando M

      Forget it… April fools’ day

    • Surya

      That must be an April fools joke 🙂

  • Surya

    I think not giving customers the option is the wrong way to go at it. People don’t like being told what is best for them. That being said, I would probably still have gone for the rental option, given the choice. Not because of the lower up front cost, but because of the guarantees you get about capacity and performance.

  • Richard Glover

    Seeing as Renault and Nissan are partners in this ev venture, why not allow Nissan to sell a re-badged Zoe? and see how it goes. Call it an e-Micra

  • David

    I have a Zoe, and I’m not sure I would have bought it without the battery rental. It is cheaper to buy, and i think it makes it possible to sell the car, even if the battery and car is 6 years old. The new buyer doesn’t have to worry about if the battery is going bad.

  • Espen Hugaas Andersen

    The rest of europe (minus the UK) could of course simply import a Zoe from Norway, if they want to own one. The dealers will be happy for any sale.nn(It can be mentioned that the Zoe is fairly unpopular here, as it doesn’t support the native electricity grid. It brings range anxiety to a whole new level, as you won’t know in advance if Level 2 a charging point is compatible, until you get there and try to plug in. And the majority of charging points *aren’t* compatible.)

  • vdiv

    While traveling just swing by your friendly Duty Free Shoppe at the Oslo Airport and pick up a Zou00eb or two ;)n——n”I never joke about my work, 007.”

  • CDspeed

    Norway is the exception because their incentives bring the price down to a point where Renault doesn’t feel the need to trick people. Battery leasing makes the car appear cheaper at the time of purchase, that’s all Renault really cares about.

  • Chris Brooks

    Perhaps the issue is not the fact you HAVE to rent but the monthly cost is a little on the high side. Here in the UK I will pay for the battery on my Twizy 3 times in the 10 year life expectancy (Renault figures). nThey could do a couple of things 1) Low the monthly cost, or perhaps after 3 years they should offer an incentive to stick with Renault and reduce the rental and this includes changing cars.

    • Surya

      The rental price for the Twizy battery is indeed too high in comparison.

  • Andy Fraser

    For the Zoe, u00a370 / month equates to u00a38,400 for 10 years, which is roughly the current price of the battery. You also get peace of mind that the battery will be replaced if it fails or drops below 75% capacity.

    • Chris Brooks

      If you work it out like that my Twizy battery rental should be u00a325 a month. It is approx double that.

  • Kalle Centergren

    In sweden the monthly cost is 799krnThat turns out to be 10 775 u20ac in 10 years.nIt will allso cost extra everytime you use a fast charger.nHow much does a new battery cost?nnI think they are losing a big chunk of sale only for not giving the option to own the battery. n

    • Surya

      My dealer told me the battery is u20ac12.000, but of course it won’t be that much by the time it needs replacing.

  • just someone old

    ok, i’ll buy my zoe in Norway ;-)nproblem about batteryrent & lease solved 😉

  • Adi

    When I’m driving at night and there’s noone around me, I’m going to spray curses on all Renault Zoe that I see. Fucking french assholes.

  • Robert Logan

    Renault rip off, the Nissan battery replacement is u00a34900 and reducing year on year. Customers should think twice before propping up this greedy company. In fact, the real cost of all electric vehicles should be much less than their petrol equivalent.