BOCHUM (dpa-AFX) - The fall in prices for electric cars is increasingly becoming a problem for leasing customers, according to an expert. While new electric cars are currently available with high discounts, leasing rates are higher than for comparable combustion engines, writes Ferdinand Dudenhoffer in a study by the Bochum-based Center Automotive Research. The reason for this is the uncertain residual values of the returned vehicles in a few years' time, which companies are already factoring in.

On average, buyers of new electric cars could expect a discount of just under 16 percent, according to the results of the study. The prices for 53 models from different manufacturers were analyzed. The highest discount is currently available on the all-electric Dacia Spring at 44 percent. Chinese manufacturers pushing into the European market are offering discounts of 20 to 30 percent, while VW is offering discounts of up to 19 percent for ID models. According to Dudenhoffer, the reason for this is the declining interest in e-cars following the abolition of the state purchase premium. "Car manufacturers only have the choice of entering this discount competition or mothballing their electric cars."

Falling residual values drive up leasing rates

This is not the case with leasing, the institute notes, citing examples from Volkswagen and Opel. CAR analyzed the rates of independent providers. For example, an electric VW ID.3 currently costs around twelve percent more than a VW Tiguan with a petrol engine when purchased in cash after all discounts have been deducted, while a 48-month lease costs 23 percent more on balance, according to the study.

The cash price for the electric version of an Opel Corsa is just under 70 percent higher than that of its petrol-engined sister model, while the 48-month lease is 142 percent more. "That's pretty hefty," says Dudenhoffer. Apparently, the leasing providers were counting on a high depreciation of the used cars and set correspondingly higher rates, especially for long terms.

"The electric car has become a problem for leasing companies, rental companies and corporate customers since the state premium cuts," concludes Dudenhoffer. "The loss in value when they are later sold as used cars is dramatic in some cases. It seems that the higher the discounts, the greater the loss of confidence and fear of a loss in value."/fjo/DP/jha