To keep the price of the upcoming Chevrolet Volt electric car low, GM execs are contemplating a rental scheme for the car’s batteries so that it costs no more to buy than an equivalent petrol car. GM is planning to introduce the Volt by 2010 and has more than 150 engineers working on it to ensure the car will have a range of 40 miles running on the batteries alone and that this performance would last at least ten years.

Renting out the extra cost of the complicated battery system is one way to increase the appeal of the cars. One of the major sticking points surrounding electric cars like the Volt and Prius is the extra expense of the technology, which many consumers are not willing to absorb yet. GM bosses know that the car has to be priced low for it to be successful. Speaking with the Financial Times, chief engineer Frank Weber admitted that the Volt “needs to be affordable to the buyer of a normal mid-sized car.”

Product planners hope the price of the Volt without the batteries will be roughly the same as a Chevrolet Malibu. Under the rental scheme, owners would only need to spend a small amount of their usual monthly fuel bill on renting the batteries. According to Weber, Volt-owners would only need to spend about $25 per month on fuel costs, as opposed to the $145 they’d spend on the comparable Malibu.