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Honda and Mitsubishi’s Altna Venture: A Leap Towards Affordable EVs with Innovative Battery Leasing Model

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Honda inquires if renting batteries might result in cheaper electric vehicles.

It

The concept of leasing batteries to lower the cost of electric vehicles has been around for a while, and it seems that Honda is venturing into a new business that could potentially expand this concept.

On Thursday, a new partnership named Altna was unveiled as an equal collaboration between Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Corporation. This enterprise merges Honda's expertise in electric vehicles and advanced connectivity with Mitsubishi's proficiency in energy production. The goal is to reduce the costs associated with electric vehicle usage, enhance the overall value of batteries over their lifespan, and meet the growing demand for batteries capable of storing energy for the electrical grid.

Mitsubishi Corporation is a diverse conglomerate involved in various industries, including the oil and gas sector. It holds a 20% stake in Mitsubishi Motors, although Nissan has a larger ownership share in the automotive company.

Honda is set to unveil its new initiative with the introduction of the Honda N-VAN e, a compact, boxy commercial vehicle that debuts in Japan with a base price of approximately $15,500. This positions it in a similar market segment as the Nissan Sakura electric minicar, which Green Car Reports test-drove last autumn.

Honda's Electric N-VAN for Business Use

The rental agreements for the car's battery are based on the expectation that once they are no longer suitable for use in vehicles, the batteries will be repurposed and maintained for energy storage in power grids.

Honda announced that Altna's leasing rates will be determined with the expectation that batteries will have an extended lifespan, serving purposes from mobile to fixed uses, thereby lessening the economic load for those who use electric vehicles, as stated in a press release.

The newly established firm will oversee the recycling process for batteries once they have served their function in grid storage, with the goal of reclaiming the components for the production of fresh cells. "Altna intends to keep a close watch on how electric vehicle batteries are being utilized and plans to retrieve those that are no longer operational by utilizing the insights gained from extended tracking," stated the car manufacturer.

The newly established firm is set to prioritize intelligent charging solutions. To start, it will introduce charging schedules that ensure electric vehicles are powered during off-peak hours to leverage non-peak grid times, possibly aligning with the availability of green energy. Moving forward, the company plans to explore the potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services, keeping in mind the anticipated deregulation of the electricity sector.

Is it possible that renting batteries might reduce the cost of American electric vehicles?

Last year, Toshihiro Mibe, the chief executive of Honda, informed Green Car Reports among others that significant advancements in battery technology would be necessary to introduce an economically priced compact car that could be available in the United States. However, a fresh perspective on the distribution of expenses might just be the solution.

Honda-Mitsubishi's alternative battery rental program

The concept of leasing batteries, often referred to as “battery as a service,” has recently emerged as a strategy to reduce the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) and facilitate the recycling of their batteries. In 2021, Hyundai disclosed its plans to develop a network centered on the lifecycle of EV batteries. This approach to battery leasing has been explored in various markets by several companies, including Nio in China. The Renault Zoe was one of the earliest electric vehicles in Europe to introduce this type of leasing option.

Currently, this business and its approach are confined to the Japanese market, with no indication if it will expand to the United States. Green Car Reports reached out to American Honda Motor for insight on potential impacts on the U.S. market, but the company chose not to provide a comment. To date, no car manufacturer has experimented with the concept of battery leasing for private vehicles in the States. Vinfast came close when they initially set the pricing for their VF 8 and VF 9 models based on a battery leasing strategy. However, they abandoned the idea, which would have offered a more cost-effective option for these vehicles, before the release of the VF 8.

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