Can plug-ins catch without lengthy warranties?
So, we now know that the Chevy Volt will offer an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty. Today, KickingTires speculates that Nissan was shooting for a 5 year, 60,000 mile warranty for the Leaf; however, thanks to GM, Nissan might have to reconsider.
Regardless, considering the cost of plug-in battery packs, is the resale value of plug-in vehicles the Achilles heal of plug-in success?
Not that long ago, GM considered a separate battery pack lease for the Chevy Volt. Likewise, a modular battery pack has also been a topic for future editions.
Why a lease or a modular battery pack?
During a press event before bankruptcy, Bob Lutz admitted that GM did expect problems with some battery packs, especially initially. Thus, GM was preparing for the possibility of full battery pack replacements on a number of vehicles as part of the cost of the Volt production. Fortunately, an 8 yr/100,000 mile warranty keeps Volt buyers fairly well protected, at least original buyers.
But what about used buyers? If sold after 5 or 6 years of ownership, isn't the possible need for a total battery pack replacement going to crush resale value, even with an original 8 year warranty?
While GM is thinking in the right direction, an even longer warranty might be required for any consumer beyond early adopters.
Thus, Nissan's consideration of just a 5, or even 3, year lease seems a little hard to believe. Then again, the Leaf's limited range might justify less of a warranty, at least in terms of mileage. In terms of years, however, such a short term battery warranty could be a deal breaker for most US auto consumers.
Then again, until battery costs come down significantly, most US auto consumers probably aren't going to consider plug-in vehicles for some time anyway; therefore, automakers still have several years to work out the kinks in these kinds of details. Anyway, hopefully the batteries will be extremely reliable in the interim to alleviate long term consumer concern.