How do you keep a very long-in-the-tooth model alive when competitors have bypassed it in terms of technology and practicality? Offer sweet deals, obviously.
Nissan’s venerable Leaf, which saw its first U.S. sales in late 2010 and still hasn’t confirmed a North American successor, needs all the help it can get. Not only are electric cars a tough sell in America, but the Leaf faces a growing crop of rivals that top its paltry driving range by roughly 2:1.
Nissan wants to know: would you feel differently if it was much, much cheaper?
Crazy deals and the Leaf seem to go hand in hand. For a couple of years now, we’ve covered stories of customers in certain jurisdictions combining incentives in order to walk away with a new electric car for the price of a used Hyundai.
In the meantime, Nissan has done its part to keep the Leaf viable by slashing the MSRP and, more recently, offering more range. For 2016, Nissan added the option of a larger battery, boosting the model’s potential range from 84 miles to a slightly more palatable 107. This year, it dropped the lesser battery altogether.
Still, a Chevrolet Bolt will take you 238 miles on a charge, and the Tesla Model 3 — which starts limited production this summer before ramping up in the fall — promises about 215.
With this in mind, Nissan has partnered with a major electricity provider to slash the cost of a new Leaf. TTAC’s Bozi Tatarevic came across the deal, which offers Duke Energy customers an extra $10,000 off the MSRP of a 2016 or 2017 model year Leaf. That’s on top of a federal tax credit worth up to $7,500.
Unlike some past deals, there’s no chance of combining this offer with special incentives from the manufacturer.
Still, the combination of Duke Energy customer incentive and federal tax credit shaves $17,500 off the $31,545 MSRP (including destination) of a base Leaf S, bringing the cost to just over $14,000. If there’s a marked-down 2016 model kicking around, expect to pay even less. Because of the Duke Energy tie-in, the offer is only good in six U.S. states: Florida, South and North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. The deal runs until the end of June.
Despite its age and increasing technological obsolescence, the Leaf still doesn’t have a confirmed replacement in the United States. While the automaker has mentioned a second-generation model with 200-plus miles of range, the timing — and likelihood — of its arrival in the U.S. remains hazy.
And yet, the Leaf soldiers on. Last year’s steep sales slide eventually leveled out and, to its credit, the model has seen monthly year-over-year improvements in sales from last September onwards. The company knows, however, that saving big piles of green is a big incentive to going green.