Financing for EV Charging Equipment Helps Sell Electric Cars
If it is financed, will they buy? That’s the question Nissan dealers will be able to answer after AeroVironment (AV) implements its program allowing LEAF buyers to bundle the cost of a home charging unit and installation into the vehicle’s financing package.
AV officially launched the program nationwide on February 7 at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo in Orlando. It had been offered in 24 dealerships since October 2012 as a pilot program.
AV figures that the availability of bundled financing for charging equipment will encourage more people to buy a plug-in electric vehicle—much the way that financing schemes for home solar have allowed homeowners to reduce upfront costs associated with buying and installing photovoltaic systems. For consumers, financing plans can reshape an expense into an investment that pays off with lower energy costs over many years.
Under the AeroVironment program, buyers can spread the payment for charger and installation over the life of an auto loan. The cost for the package that includes installation is $1,999. Many buyers lease the LEAF for 24 or 36 months, so the cost is amortized over that period.
James Azzaro, commercial vehicle sales manager at John Howard Motors in Morgantown, WV., told PluginCars.com that most of his customers have opted for the financing package. He has sold a dozen LEAFs since last October. Nissan endorsed the AV offer, which is reassuring, said Azzaro. “Everyone who has leased one of these is taking a leap of faith. You need to know your actual fuel source is solid,” he said.
Dealers can keep some AV chargers in stock to sell to those who want to install it themselves – an option that costs $999. Almost all of his customers have opted for the package that includes installation, said Azzaro. He then arranges to have AV contact the buyer to schedule an installation.
Making It Easy
Installing a 240V home charging unit requires special permits. AV takes care of all that and more, said Wahid Nawabi, Aerovironment senior vice president and general manager of efficient energy system. “You don’t want to take three days off to figure out how to install the charger,” said Nawabi. The AV charger financing program “shows we are committed to this industry,” said Nawabi. “We think this is the future.”
There is no volume requirement and “signing up is easy,” he said. AV is offering the charger financing program at Nissan and Mitsubishi dealers right now, he said.
AV is the first company to arrange it so the cost of the charger could be included in the auto financing agreement, according to Nawabi. “Many dealers have told us this has helped them sell the car,” he said.
Nissan sold 9,819 LEAFs in 2012, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Mitsubishi sold only 588 of its small all-electric I-iMiEV, also know as i. Despite the relatively small numbers, Nawabi is optimistic about the future for plug-in cars. “I think EV sales are quite encouraging,” he said. “It is very early.”
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