EV battery leases could be a boon for manufacturers, a bust for consumers

For years, observers have thought that consumers would be better off leasing EV batteries than buying them outright — because the batteries are prone to degradation, because new technology will turn the old ones obsolete, because someday you might be able to upgrade your car’s battery with a better one and so on.

Thing is, leasing is seldom financially beneficial to the consumer unless they’re really pressed for cash at the time of purchase. Battery leasing is unlikely to be any different.

Vietnamese automaker VinFast is testing the waters with plans to sell EVs while leasing their batteries, and the terms of the deal seem so skewed that I suspect VinFast’s business model is less about the purported consumer benefits than it is about maintaining control of the batteries from start to finish. By offering a battery subscription, VinFast may say they’re trying to lower the barriers of EV ownership, but their real play appears to be in harvesting the residual value of the battery.