14 Apr 22

VinFast planning to offer EV battery subscription

Swappable batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) may be getting close, according to VinFast. The Vietnamese automaker revealed battery subscription prices at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday, writes TechCrunch.

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It’s taken almost 40 years (from when Motorola launched the first handheld, battery operated mobile phone in 1973) for cellphone batteries to shrink from the size of a house brick to not much larger than a credit card. Currently, most EVs available on the market are powered by battery packs the size of a car chassis. Clearly, this makes swappable EV batteries uneconomical and impractical. However, given VinFast’s planned activities announced this week, we may not have to wait another 40 years for such a concept to become commercially viable.

Banking on EV batteries and charging

VinFast recently invested $2 billion to build its first gigafactory to manufacture EV batteries in North Carolina, USA and announced a partnership with Electrify America to give customers access to fast charging.

The company plans to offer a battery leasing model for the VF 8 and VF 9 SUV models whereby customers lease the EV batteries for a monthly fee based on how many miles they drive. It is hoped this will help make its vehicles more accessible to the masses but no details as to how it will affect car prices has been released.

Battery swapping is common with electric motor cycles, mopeds and eScooters whereby owners swap spent batteries rather than waiting for them to charge. But whether it’s a car or motorcycle, batteries have a finite first life within the vehicles itself, so being able to replace them, rather than the whole car, is an attractive option for owners and operators.

Unfortunately, there is little clarity as to how the scheme will work in practice and how much of the battery (in its current format) will be available for lease (or rent) or whether the scheme will reduce the price of the vehicle but it is, however, a step in the right direction.

Monthly subscription for batteries

Details released by VinFast on Wednesday state that the company is offering a flexible plan of $35 per month for the VF 8 and $44 for the VF 9 for 310 miles of use each month. Anything over that mileage range will incur a charge of $0.11 and $0.15 per extra mile for the VF 8 and VF 9 respectively.

In a statement, the company stated: “By separating the price of the battery from the acquisition value of the automobile, VinFast takes on all the risks related to the vehicle’s battery and ensures a reasonable price for its products, while providing customers with peace of mind about the battery’s quality during use.”

VinFast said it would provide a lifetime battery warranty that covers all maintenance and repair costs of the battery, and will replace the battery for free when charging capacity dips below 70%. This is an exciting development and it will be interesting to see how it pans out in the future. Rest assured Global Fleet will be following the story.

Image: VinFast

Authored by: Alison Pittaway