Renault customers cry foul over battery pack rental terms – Owning the car but renting the pack puts car makers in drivers seat?

Because electric car battery packs are expensive, some in the industry think the pack should be leased separately from the car.  Doing so would reduce the price of an electric car, making it more affordable, speeding up electric car adoption.  That was the value proposition offered by Better Place, for example, that not only would you lease the pack but your vehicle would be recharged at a Better Place battery pack swap station, all for a monthly lease fee.  While Better Place has gone out of business, Renault is selling their electric cars with leased battery packs.

Some dislike, perhaps hate, the terms of Renault’s battery pack lease and have recently launched a petition drive demanding changes in the terms.

What I see in the petition are issues I worried over when the lease arrangements were first announced a couple years ago.  Basically, Renault is exerting a lot of control over the customers through the battery pack lease.

A couple years ago when the terms were announced I simply wrote them up naming the financial terms – that the Renault ZOE or Twizy buyer would pay Renault about $100 a month for the battery pack lease.  And that’s fine, you’re paying for the expensive battery pack over time just like we do when buying a cellphone on contract.  It’s a low up-front cost, with the full cost paid over time.

But it means Renault is deeply in control of your car.  Unlike a cellphone where you can just pop in the SIM card for another carrier and carry on using it, an electric car battery pack is central to the usefulness of that car.  Renault is the only supplier of battery packs for its cars, giving Renault a potentially authoritarian role over the car.  If you don’t like Renault’s battery pack rental/lease deal you can’t go down the street to Henri’s Battery Shop and get a 3rd party replacement.

A few months ago I realized the battery in my MacBookPro laptop had worn out, and opening the computer I found the pack slightly swollen.  A swollen pack is risky, and has to be replaced.  Fortunately 3rd party battery makers build replacement packs that even offer more energy capacity than the one Apple sold me with this laptop back in 2009.  Apple surely preferred I buy the replacement pack from them, and had their Genius’s do the replacement at a store.  But, the replacement parts market for Mac laptops is robust enough that I could get a better pack from a 3rd party and, with the help of some online videos, do the work myself.

Generally speaking electric car owners at this time don’t have that freedom.  Buy a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, etc, and you’re stuck with the battery pack options supplied by the manufacturer.  No 3rd party battery packs, and it’s an uphill slog if you want to replace the pack yourself.  Fortunately it’s not impossible to do it yourself, because tinkerers at home are getting packs from crashed vehicles and performing teardowns and learning how to diagnose pack problems on their own.  Bravo.

Leaf/Volt/etc owners have this much freedom because they’re buying the whole car as a package, and therefore own the battery pack.  Other than the risk of voiding the warranty, they’re free to do what they want.

Under Renault’s battery pack rental/lease program – sure the customer owns the car, but they don’t own the battery pack.  Therefore the customers hands are tied against do it yourself anything with the battery pack.

According to the petition:-

Renault doesn’t allow you to buy the battery pack – only lease/rent it
In the future you won’t be able to upgrade to new battery technology and thereby get a better car
Selling the car carries some extra restrictions on that transaction because of the leased/rented battery pack

Because you can never buy out the contract, this isn’t a real lease arrangement.  Instead the car owner is renting the battery pack.  According to calculations in the petition, owning a Renault ZOE or Twizy for 5 years or 10 years and you’ll pay Renault 2-3 times the battery pack cost in rental fees.
We can take this all as a warning – maybe battery pack rental is not good for the customer?
Here’s the petition and other information that appears to be the lease terms.  The original is in Italian, but the translation is provided by the Chrome web browser and is therefore rough.

Why is it important


Renault, RCI Banque, ZE Mobility

We call for the amendment of the contract relating to the rental of the batteries!

Welcome Friends, we need your support.

This time, the sector is that of electric vehicles, in particular that of Renault Twizy, (in the case to be extended if any of you have had experience with other vehicles).

The case in question is focused on the rental agreement of the batteries, which indicates the obligation to return the vehicle, even though it is your property, in the event that the contract runs out!

I quote some articles of the contract:

ART. 15.8 In the event of sale of the vehicle by the Lessee that it is the owner, in a private or a professional in the countries listed above, the Lessor is obligated – to Italy directly or indirectly through their group to others Countries in art. 8:13 – to enter into a new lease of the battery with the third party purchaser of the vehicle, upon notice to all of the following details of the new Tenant:

– By a natural person: name, nationality, date and place of birth, marital status, social security number, residence, activities and data of any employer, bank account details for payment of the fees;

– A legal person: company certificate updated (no more than 30 days), bank account details for payment of the royalties.

ART. 13 – Term of the Contract; Restitution of property; Early termination of the lease and the death of the Lessee.

ART 13.1 Upon expiry of the contract originally agreed upon or extended pursuant to art. 5 or earlier pursuant to art. 13.6, the Lessee shall within 48 hours if it is the owner of the vehicle, and does not intend to extend the contract, he must notify the Lessor data operator authorized Renault ZE who has completed the delivery of the battery with the vehicle and certify the exact date of this return through a report signed by the operator. If so, then the provisions of art. 13.7 and / or art. 8:15;

ART 13.2 At least three months before the expiry of the Contract, if do not want to prolong it pursuant to art. 5.3, the Lessee shall notify by registered letter, or the intention to return, at its own expense, the battery with the vehicle in the place indicated by the Lessor or the sale of the vehicle by a private operator or other professional in compliance with the provisions of art. 8.15. Except in cases of force majeure, if the Lessee does not manifest its intentions in order to return the battery to the vehicle, the Lessor will provide legal billing allowance of value equivalent to the enjoyment of the rent from last in force, including services referred to in Articles. 9 and 10.

ART 13.3 In the event of agreement on the return of the battery with the vehicle, the same must be done within 48 hours of the expiry of the contract will be made and recorded in the minutes signed by the lessee and operator authorized pursuant to Renault ZE ‘art.13.1, which will be highlighted any flaws, defects and damage that they have, not due to normal wear and tear and obsolescence and even now that the Lessee is obliged to pay compensation. The date affixed to the minutes of the return or document stating the refund shall determine the date on which occurs the transfer of risks to the Lessor or Lessee of the new battery. If the date affixed to the minutes of the refund is later than 48 hours after expiry of the contract, the Lessee shall be obligated to pay – a penalty – a sum equivalent to double the rent to be in last place, proportionate to the period additional availability of the built-in battery in the vehicle.

ART 13.6 If there is a just cause, the Lessee may terminate the Contract in advance by returning the battery with the Vehicle to the Lessor, applying all the provisions of art. 13.1 and contextually matching to the Lessor compensation calculated as indicated in art. 13.10. The Lessee shall not in any case exercise the right of withdrawal until the time in which he has not fully paid all amounts owed prior to the Lessor for any reason under this Agreement and the withdrawal will not be effective until Tenant shall have fulfilled their obligations restitution of art. 13.1 Welded and all other amounts payable to the Lessor.

ART 13:13 If the Lessee is the owner of the vehicle, in the event of sale of the Vehicle, the Renter must preserve the property rights of the Lessor on the battery and fulfill its obligations under Article. 8.15. In any case, the Lessee will be required to pay an amount equal to the rent until such time as the said obligations have been met and have entered into a new lease agreement with the third party purchaser.

Art. 15 – Termination clause

ART 15.2 intervened termination of this Agreement, the Lessee must return, at its own expense, the battery with the vehicle in the place indicated by the Lessor and shall be required per day – as compensation – payment of an amount commensurate to the incidence Daily last rent due, from the date of this resolution until the date of refund. As a penalty, will also be due to the amount equal to the total amount of the lease payments, in addition to greater damage.For example, it will be due compensation for additional damages if the goods returned are devoid of ancillary documentation or present defects and differences not caused by normal wear and tear or obsolescence, and should still be reconditioned, where technically possible.

ARTICLE 16 – Submission of the Contract termination conditions.

16.1 The Contract is conditional resolutely to the following conditions:

– The vehicle is – for whatever reason – scrapped or otherwise ceases to exist;

– To be resolved – for whatever reason – the contract of sale of the vehicle;

– Lessee is required – for any reason – return the vehicle.

ART16.2 In the event of a termination of the conditions listed above, the Lessee shall pay to Lessor an allowance calculated under the prior art. 13.10.

————————————————– ———————————————–

What does this mean?

provided that the new battery has a cost of € 3,150.00, Renault does not allow to buy it, “I wonder why?”, allows only the formula of the rental contract with a never seen before, a real contract halter.

This contract, which damages the customer, because:

– Leaves no alternative to signing the contract halter;

– Once signed the contract we will be condemned to a lifetime of the vehicle to pay a monthly fee ranging from € 24.59 + VAT (if you go down only 2500km in 3 years) to € 1,188.52 + VAT (if you go down in 200.000km 1 year), we say that an average distance of 50.000km in 3 years (they say that three years is the average length of contracts) monthly cost € 71.04 + VAT (€ 86.67) and not cheap.

– This fee or “rental fee” when multiplied x 5 years (the period of depreciation of a vehicle as small as the Twizy) returns the expenditure of € 5,200, well above the cost of the battery. But if your vehicle is kept for a longer time, say 8-10 years or many more, saw that the electric motors are virtually eternal except minor surgery to replace parts that wear? try to make a calculation and you will see that behind this beautiful project, it hides a real “….” I can not define it otherwise!

All the advantage that could give an electric vehicle in terms of saving on fuel and maintenance gets pulverized by this tax on the vehicle’s life, so anything but cheap. You are born perhaps of secret agreements with the oil companies? what is taken initially, he is then returned later? In short, we will never be independent?

– For example, if after 2 or 3 years we want to sell the vehicle, most likely we will move forward more and we may not succeed due to exceeding the battery technology (remember that Twizy has a range that varies from 75 to 90 km, depending on how where it is headed), perhaps in the meantime the market will offer better performing batteries and with greater autonomy. In front of a vehicle capable of traveling 300km on a full tank, who never buy a vehicle that makes 75km or 90km? No one! So we can not sell the vehicle, we will have to keep it and pay the monthly fee famous? unfairly or return to Renault after purchasing it personally as indicated in the articles of the contract? Renault with this operation causes us to lose the value of the medium as used, why can not resell it! I forgot, for the uninitiated must also pay insurance on batteries as well as the obvious one for the RC.

– Renault does not allow for the upgrade of the batteries in case they were to get out of the new and the best on the market;

– If through external channels than Renault can buy batteries at much less than € 3,150.00, why not give this opportunity to the customers?

– Considering the quick steps of the technology, especially in this area, because we have to be forced to pay € 85 a month for the entire life of the vehicle, when maybe in a year will come out better and cheaper batteries? One thing is that the customer can choose between buying a house with potential risks, if ever there were, and a purchase by the economic benefits brought by the parent company, is one thing to be forced to sign a contract that would cut the legs danneggiandoci economically!

– Twizy, it would be a good buy, if it were free of this contract, if it were free from these batteries, if it were free from the obligation to return the vehicle at the end of the rental agreement.


– As indicated in the contract, in the event of sale of the vehicle to another customer, the customer who buys have to sign a new lease. Otherwise if this does not happen the first customer remains holder of the contract. – Today the batteries are replaced only in case of malfunction and in the case of exit on the market of better performing batteries – The duration of the rental is indicative only and then linked to the calculations end of the contract. Normally, the average duration of 36 months is signed. This is because the car is prolonged as long as you remain owners of the vehicle – If today did not want to sign the rental agreement, the customer from whom you acquired the vehicle would continue to pay the existing contract – the last point concerns the concept is that the battery is inherent in the vehicle, basically to use the vehicle you need to rent the battery, and then the contract. To date, Renault does not give the option to purchase the vehicle with battery electric vehicles.



1) The customer who purchases the vehicle is the owner and then they may dispose freely without Renault and other companies may restrict its right of ownership;The vehicle is totally independent from the batteries.

2) BATTERY PURCHASE: Ability to buy batteries from Renault and other suppliers, insurance is not mandatory, and client released from Renault or from other suppliers can freely use the means and the batteries as it sees fit, disassemble, replace, without Renault and other providers may impose limits or ask for compensation;

3) BATTERY WITH PURCHASE FINANCING: Ability to buy batteries with a monthly fee that goes to get the cost of the battery during 2/3/4/5 years at the discretion of the client in terms of the benefit offered by the type of financing; if the vehicle is sold for example, after three years compared to 5 funded, the funding can be passed to the customer successor who will pay the remaining two years. At the end of the installments, the battery is the owner. It could be accompanied, at the discretion of the customer, a policy that covers any replacements, damage, etc..Obviously, the client should have the opportunity to buy it with their own funding.
As for point 1) the customer became the owner is released from Renault, may freely use the means and the batteries as it sees fit, disassemble, replace, without that Renault itself may set limits or ask for compensation;

4) PURCHASE OF THE VEHICLE WITHOUT BATTERIES: The customer must have the opportunity to sell / buy a vehicle, new or used, without the battery, (with a refund of the batteries in case of buying a used one from the rental agreement, the Renault , RCI Banque, ZE, etc.) and be able to freely dispose of the vehicle being totally free from Renault. The client can mount any battery suitable for use of the medium.

5) HIRE PURCHASE OF THE VEHICLE BATTERY INDEPENDENT: Renault or other companies may offer a rental agreement that provides for the batteries at the end of the contract the return of the sun batteries as the vehicle is owned by the customer and shall have freely no strings attached. The advantages of a hire purchase or a loan and a course will be offered by proponents of the services.

6) The new contract should not contain articles which infringe the rights of clients, limiting their freedom and diminish the enjoyment of the product in an absolute sense.

7) The amendments of the contract will be extended to all those customers who have already signed the contract.

How they think they can diffuse electric vehicles, although currently with the limits (see autonomy), if encumbered by these contracts? How many of you who have signed the contract, you really carefully read the rental agreement of the batteries?

Our demands are quite logical, does not ask the impossible, but the use of common sense.

We are many, and to change the things we have to follow these two simple steps, the ones that do more harm to them, disclose, inform as much as possible to be united and not to buy more products up to the change.

Such a product (administratively speaking) should not be bought! These companies need to understand that they have to sell to customers the benefits and not the usual disappointments hidden among the items of a contract with hundreds of lines written in character “5”!

Our proposals will produce benefits for both parties in the transaction of sale:

– For customers, thanks to a real savings;

– For Renault, thanks to increases in vehicle sales data by a lower cost of ownership of the vehicle and for freeing customers from illogical limitations on the exercise of their property rights;

– For the environment, due to less pollution.

Every satisfied customer, will talk about his purchase and benefits occurred personally, with such serenity and firmness and passion, to induce others to purchase, more than any talented professional seller. We estimate that by the time the contract was detected halter Renault, for the rental of the batteries, our information have changed my mind to many people.

Confident that Renault will be able to understand the demands and will probably be able to understand even better in economic terms what it means to have dissatisfied customers of the product purchased, we are confident in finding a short term.

I urge you to sign the petition online at the following address:

It declares, pursuant to Legislative Decree no. 30th June 2003, n. 196 “Code concerning the processing of personal data” that the information provided will not be used for the above mentioned petition

For more information please contact us at the following

Inform, disclosed, share as much as possible, please sign up. The constant commitment of all produces the final result.

Thank you all!


About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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