The Battery “Breakthrough”

  • November 6, 2023

If you follow battery-powered devices, you know that a “breakthrough” has been just around the corner . . . for the past 30 years.

Well, it has arrived – at last!

The “breakthrough” isn’t technical, however. It is mercenary.

To “solve” the problem of battery-powered devices costing too much for most people to be able to afford to buy – because of the cost of the battery that powers the device – rent them use of the battery in the device, instead.

That is the breakthrough business model of Vietnamese battery-powered device-maker VinFast, which touts the lower cost of its devices by not including the cost of buying the battery. Which you don’t ever own.

You buy the device – and then you rent use of the battery, with tiered pricing based on how much battery you use, measured by how much driving you do. The more you drive, the more you pay – in addition to whatever you paid for the device.

The point being, you’ll never stop paying – for the use of the battery, without which the device is so much deadweight. More finely, even if you eventually pay off and so own the device, it won’t be of much use unless you continue to be able to pay to be able to use it.

Now that’s a breakthrough, all right!

It is precisely the kind of breakthrough advocated for by the solons of the World Economic Forum – who have said that in the future they are planning for us, we will own nothing and be happy.

Of course, those who own everything – and rent use of things to us – will be even happier.

And much richer than they already are.

But money isn’t everything. If it were, they’d have stopped a long time ago.

The point being for them to have all the money – and for us to have none. This is the happiest prospect of all.

“By separating the price of the battery from the acquisition value of the automobile, VinFast takes on all the risks related to the vehicle’s battery and ensures a reasonable price for its products, while providing customers with peace of mind about the battery’s quality during use,” reads a company press release.

It’s very altruistic-sounding, isn’t it?

Which of course, it isn’t.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or a free ride, either. The manufacturers of battery-powered devices know this. More finely, they know they are losing money on the devices they can’t sell because most people can’t afford to buy them (leaving aside the matter of enough people wanting to buy them). In order to “sell” at least a few devices, the manufacturers have had to resort to accepting losses on each sale.

This is – obviously – not sustainable.

Enter the “breakthrough.”

It is a breakthrough of a piece with extending the duration of the typical new car loan from 3-4 years to 6-7. This was done to gull the dull into believing they could afford the increasingly unaffordable.

Look, Myrna! It’s only $400 per month. . .

Never mind that it’s $400 per month for the next six years – with each year that passes bringing the dullard closer to owing more the rapidly depreciating vehicle is now worth.

It moved inventory.

Now the dull will be gulled by the dangling in front of their eyes of an “affordable” device. Look, Myrna! We can buy an EV for only $30,000! Never mind the estimated $110-$160 per month VinFast (and soon, emulators of this model) will charge to use the battery that powers the device. That would come to $7,920 (on the low end, assuming $110 per month) over the course of six years and $11,520 (on the upper end) to rent use of the battery that powers the device.

Not for just six years, either.

Forever. Or at least, as long as you want to use the device.

And never mind that they now have leverage over you to limit your use of the device.

On the upside, VinFast assumes all liability for maintenance and repair costs for the battery that powers the device, similar to the terms and conditions of a lease. But with a difference. The owner of the battery that powers the device has an interest (and a legal right) to keep track of how its property is used. VinFast – and its inevitable emulators – will need to know just how many miles you drive, as battery rental fees are based upon how far you drive. VinFast and its emulators will also no doubt want to know how you’re driving – as how you drive a device affects the “health” of their battery that powers the device.

Owners of Tesla’s devices already know that their devices (and so, they themselves) are monitored by Tesla, even though as a legal technicality, owners of Tesla’s devices are just that – having bought their devices.

Such technicalities will be dispensed with when devices are formally not-owned by the people who pay to rent use of them.

Or at least, of the battery that powers them.

And there you have the “breakthrough” fans of battery powered devices have been waiting for.

. . .

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