BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio Inc (NIO.N) has launched a battery leasing service which will allow drivers to buy an EV without owning the battery pack - one of the most expensive EV components - thereby lowering the starting price of its cars.

The service, dubbed as “battery as a service”, entails drivers paying a monthly rental fee for use of the batteries.

The cheapest Nio car after subsidies is now an ES6 sport-utility vehicle (SUV) priced 273,600 yuan ($39,553) without ownership of the battery pack, versus 343,600 yuan including the battery pack.

Nio operates 143 battery-swapping stations around China, where drivers can swap spent battery packs for fully charged replacements.

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