Russian Roulette for Beginners (buying a second hand Fluence in the UK)? - Renault Z.E. Forum
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-15-2016, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Russian Roulette for Beginners (buying a second hand Fluence in the UK)?

I am considering entering the world of EV ownership and have spent some time looking at the Fluence, given that you can pick up one of the HV12 reg units with 7k miles on the clock for 3.5k.

Of course, I soon discovered all about the battery lease situation, but even with the 106.80 per month (89+VAT for my estimated 9k miles per year on a 36 month contract), the figures still stacked up.

That is, until I started to look at what would happen at the end of those 3 years...

After several phone calls to RCI Finance (and here, I do have to give my thanks to Richard Suzuki from the RCI Battery Lease team, who was extremely helpful), I discovered the following:

1. At the end of the lease period, you can either:
(a) take out a new lease
(b) sell the car and transfer the lease to the new buyer or
(c) remove and return the battery to Renault and then scrap the car

So, in 3 years the 2012 car would be 7 years old, so (a) might be an option, but I'm still faced with the same options when the car is 10 years old and by then I would have spent 7689.60 in battery lease payments.

I might be lucky with (b), but there's no guarantee that somebody will want to buy a 7 year old EV with a leased battery, given that the battery lease payments over 3 years are likely to exceed the value of the car, especially when you consider (c).

And (c) is where is starts to get interesting. According to Richard at RCI finance, (c) involves:
- taking your car to a Renault dealer, where they will do a full diagnostic check on the battery and remove it. I guess this could be any EV specialist, buy you would then be responsible for any damage in transit (or proving that there hadn't been any)
- paying for the battery to be packed into a shipping crate and having it to be shipped back to the Renault battery plant *in France*
- somehow getting your battery-less Fluence to a scrapyard who I imagine might start making all sorts of charges for disposal of electric components under the WEEE regulations

He had recently overseen this process for a Zoe and said that the costs were EUR2,000 just for the diagnostics, packing and shipping (batteries have to be shipped by some special shipping service in a specially designed crate apparently). When you add the costs of battery removal, flat bed transport to a scrapyard and disposal, I estimate you could be facing a bill of 3k.

Things get more interesting when you start to look at what happens if your car is written off or suffers a mechanical / electrical fault that is not worth repairing outside the warranty period. For an insurance write off, you are still liable for the full replacement cost of the battery (less 10% depreciation per year), so you need to make sure that your insurance company is insuring the car *and* the cost of the battery. I would imagine that might push up the premiums a little. I read somewhere that the Renault list price for the battery is EUR18,000

If your hit with a problem that would cost more to fix than you are prepared to spend, then you are still liable to do (c), so the only sensible way to mitigate this risk is to pay for a comprehensive parts and labour warranty when the Renault one expires. If you don't have a warranty and you choose to scrap your car, then not only are you liable for the costs of (c), but you also need to pay for repair of the battery if it has been damaged as a result of an electrical fault. I didn't even get into how you prove whether the battery caused a problem with the motor or visa-versa. The only plus side is that you are not responsible for the remaining lease payments in either of these scenarios.

When I crunched the numbers again, it turned out that running the Fluence over 5 years (assuming I would be liable for the return of the battery at the end of this period) would cost a little more than my current gas guzzling 2001 BMW 520i. It got to the point where it would be cheaper for me to pay somebody 2k to "buy" the car from me after 5 years. I'm not sure Auto Trader allow you to advertise with negative prices.

(There are a few problems with (b) too. To cover yourself as a seller, you need to make sure that your buyer has signed on the dotted line for a battery lease contract before you transfer ownership of the car. However, I'm quite sure the buyer is not going to want to sign a 3-year lease agreement for a car they do not yet own).

So, sadly, I am going to start looking at other EV vehicles with owned batteries, unless anybody has any different real-world experience. This is a shame, because I genuinely like the Fluence as a car and am prepared to put up with the lack of fast charge options etc. That is, unless anybody has any different real-world experience?

York (UK)
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-16-2016, 05:56 AM
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RE: Russian Roulette for Beginners (buying a second hand Fluence in the UK)?

Thanks for your input - RCI are telling you what they believe is the way they want to work - but the Battery contracts tell a very different story. The cost of removing the battery is theirs, not yours. The same goes for shipping. It is their choice to refurb in France, and as you would have to go to a Renault dealer for the battery to be unlinked from the car to permit safe removal. Nothing in the contract explicitly requires you to take the car to get its battery removed, only for you to make it available to do so.
One of our members here played hardball and achieved an (approx) 3k buy-back and disposal at the end of his lease, not from Renault directly, but a dealership who was instructed to make the arrangement.

Things do change, and by the time the contract ends RCI may have changed the practices in the light of other purchase schemes but RCI have a track record of bullying, the most serious is sending letters stating that your contract would be auto-extended if you didn't contact them at the end of the period - they do this 28 days before expected termination date.

I've told them when my contract is up, my obligation to pay will cease and an address provided where the car can have the battery removed at their expense. Of course, getting any written reply from RCI is an impossibility - but that's their problem, not mine.

It's not just Fluence owners that get treated this way - Leaf owners, (where RCI does the admin) don't fare any better. You'll note they arrange pick up from the customer as standard - something to remember should they try it it on.

"Hi All,

"Some advice please, the car is due for collection before the 1st of October, insurance runs out on the 6th of October. I've not heard from anyone regarding collection so start to chase it up, firstly the number for Nissan Finance on the letter sent a month or so ago is no longer in use. Call Nissan Customer Services and spend 37 minutes (yes you read that right) on hold and after another 5 or so mins get the correct number for Nissan Finance which has been changed (ever heard of a divert ???? )

"Call Nissan Finance and after working my way through numeric options and dictating reg number etc I get through to them, they say that I should contact the collection agents Mannheim and kindly give me their number. I contact Mannheim who said they haven't had the details from RCI yet so there is nothing they can do until the details have been passed to them and to wait a couple of days to be contacted. Fair enough.

"A few days later contact Mannheim again who still don't have the details, soooo... contact Nissan Finance again who say they have definitely sent the details but not to worry too much as Mannheim have a backlog anyhow. I explain that towards the end of the month I'll be working away so it's time limited if they want the car back before the 1st. That's fine they say. I explain that my insurance runs out on the 6th and don't really want to have to re-insure for a month as it's costly. They say that's fine, stick it on a driveway or garage and leave it uninsured !!! Firstly is this even legal without a SORN ?? Either way this is pretty bad advice to be giving, particularly as the letter clearly states that I am responsible for the vehicle until collection. OK I say, I'll look into options but in the meantime can you send the details through to Mannheim so they can get the collection booked. I'm advised to call MH the next day.

"So today, speak to Mannheim who say that they have a backlog and the earliest they can book an inspection is the 17th of October, fair enough, wait until then. They then ream off the statutory charges if the car is not available on the day of inspection or indeed if it isn't roadworthy, i.e tax and MOT - newsflash from the day of collection tax is your responsibility!! Not being completely comfortable with leaving the car uninsured from the 6th to the 17th - 19th depending on when it's actually collected, I look into options with my insurers.

"OK I think to myself, not the end of the world, speak to insurers and extend by a month or so........ not so simple they say, you can do short term that would come out at circa 168 OMG!!!! Or re-insure the car for the year and cancel before the first month is out and pay the cancellation charge + 1 month premium (circa 80 all in). I'm told the 3rd option is to park it somewhere safe and SORN the vehicle with the DVLA. Fine I don't need to drive the car as I have alternative transport, except for that I'll be fined by RCI / Mannheim if they come to inspect the car and it isn't MOT'd or as they call it 'taxed' !!!!"
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