Low monthly costs come with tight mileage limits, but there are other options.
There's a subscription or rental service for almost anything you can think of today, from dog food to small-batch whiskey. Subscriptions and quirky leasing deals are also becoming more common in the automotive world, though the response hasn't always been kind. Earlier this year, Vietnamese automaker VinFast announced a new leasing program that separates the cost of the battery from that of the car. Now, we know what it will cost.
The company plans a US release for its two-row VF 8 SUV and three-row VF 9 later this year. The VF 8 ranges in price from $40,700 to $48,000 and will offer a driving range of up to 292 miles in the available Eco configuration. The VF 9 costs between $55,500 and $61,000 and has a range of up to 369 miles. Those prices and specs put the VF 8 in the same league as the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, while the VF 9 competes in a higher bracket.
VinFast's basic battery lease costs $35 per month for the VF 8 and $44 for the larger VF 9. But the catch is that the price only covers 310 miles per month. The owner can continue driving after that but will be charged $0.11/mile for the VF 8 and $0.15/mile for the VF 9.
Given that the average driver in the US travels 1,200 miles per month, costs could climb quickly in either lease plan. In the VF 9, that would equate to $133.5 a month [(1,200 - 310) * $0.15].
To alleviate the problem for people needing more miles, VinFast offers a more expensive unlimited-mile fixed lease option. Monthly charges are $110 per month for the VinFast VF 8 and $160 per month for the VF 9. "Fixed" here really means fixed, as VinFast promises no monthly price changes for the life of the lease.
VinFast said it's taking on more risk from buyers by separating the costs of the battery and car. It believes the program "ensures a reasonable price for its products, while providing customers with peace of mind about the battery's quality during use." The company backs its batteries with a lifetime warranty and says it will replace the unit for free once capacity drops below 70 percent.
There are mixed opinions on whether the battery lease program will become a success. Some analysts believe buyers will become annoyed at shelling out two monthly payments, and it's easy to see how the lower-cost leases could become a financial nightmare. Whatever the outcome of the lease program, VinFast is committed to the US market. Just a few weeks ago, it announced plans to invest $2 billion in a manufacturing facility in North Carolina.