Renault boss Carlos Tavares has revealed he is prepared to drop a controversial plan to lease batteries for the electric cars his company aims to market in Britain.
In an exclusive interview with Fleet News, the French group's chief operating officer pledged he would authorise a move to include battery packs in vehicle purchase pricing if customers prefer it.
"The whole point of our idea to offer batteries on lease has been to provide our customers with peace of mind and this has been backed up by all the results from our focus group sessions. These are expensive items and we shoulder the cost if they should fail during the lease period.
"But if the feedback we get from our sales network shows that customers prefer to buy the batteries along with the cars, we will change our minds. We'll wait and see how customers respond to the plan before coming to a decision.”
Speaking at the media launch of the Zoe eectric small car in Portugal, he added: "When you are in a pioneering position, you have to accept that there are risks to be taken as well as opportunities. We're not being stubborn over this. The leasing idea was part of our aim retain a competitive edge, but we will listen to what our customers tell us."
The possibility of a U-turn on battery lease was welcomed by Martin Ward, manufacturer relations manager at CAP Monitor, who have refused to make retained value predictions on Renault EV products for the last three years.
"We exist to protect the interests of a lot of business customers who pay us for advice and we have always believed that the battery leasing idea involves legal and insurance implications.
"Everyone knows where they stand when an internal combustion-powered car is leased, but that's just not the case when a vehicle involves a second lease.
“I think the Zoe is a great little car and would love to put a valuation on it, but many fleets don't have the facilities to cope with secondary leasing."
Nissan, Renault’s alliance partner, includes the cost of batteries in the purchase prices of its Leaf electric car range.
Author: Maurice Glover