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Electric Smart Fortwo to have battery leasing option in U.S.

Leased battery packs reduce the up-front purchase price while insulating electric car buyers from worries down the road.


Smart USA is reportedly going to offer a battery lease option on the Smart fortwo electric drive when it goes on sale in the US shortly. Battery leasing reduces the up-front cost of electric vehicle purchase, converting it into a monthly payment.

The move is being taken to "reduce anxiety" of electric vehicle ownership. Questions about in consumer minds with doubts like, whether the battery pack will give out before the car, or will new improved battery technology make cars with older battery technology obsolete. Battery lease options give electric car owners a layer of protection and peace of mind that doesn't come with battery pack ownership.

In Europe, the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive battery leasing option has been available since August, with 97% of buyers and leasees choosing this option.

The U.S. battery lease price has not been set, but in Europe it is 65 euros a month or about $83. When the battery pack is rented, the up-front purchase price of the European Smart Fortwo Electric Drive drops from a $30,398 equivalent, to $23,680 equivalent.

The Smart USA website shows the U.S. price as "starting at $25,000" before tax credits, but they are not spelling out details as of yet. When the battery pack is purchased it is covered under the normal four-year 50,000-mile warranty, with battery maintenance and replacement not covered beyond that date. When it is leased, Smart covers the battery pack for the term of the lease.

For 2013, Smart expects to sell or lease about 2000 Electric Drive Fortwo's in the U.S. They are capacity limited, and demand for the car in Europe leaves only a few for U.S. sales. Starting with the 2014 model Smart will increase production.

According to the EPA website, the Fortwo Electric Drive is rated for 107 MPGe combined (122 MPGe city, 93 MPGe highway), and a driving range of about 68 miles. Charging time is 6 hours implying it has a 3 kilowatt charging unit.

In Europe the Fortwo Electric Drive has a 22 kilowatt three phase AC fast charging system that offers a complete recharge in an hour.

In Europe other electric cars are offered with a battery lease option, such as the Renault ZOE.