How I Bought A Ridiculously Cheap Brand-new Nissan Leaf

by Ur-Turn

Aaron Cole’s articles about the ridiculous incentives available for purchasing a Leaf in Colorado piqued my interest, mostly because: I live in Colorado; and, I like the idea of paying way less than half of MSRP for a new car.

We moved to an inner-ring suburb of Denver about a year ago with a family of six and the requisite three-row crossover: a leased Mazda CX-9. Yet, ever since I bought my Volvo V70R with the way-back seat, we use the Volvo almost exclusively for hauling the family around town. We also bought an RV for long road trips. For the last year or so, the CX-9 has just been a really thirsty, oversized runabout.

I’ve idly thought about picking up something like a Chevrolet Volt for a while, but never pulled the trigger because often my wife has the four kids with her, and the Volt only seats four.

For some reason I thought the Leaf had the same problem, but after I read Aaron’s article I did a little more research and realized it actually seats five, which made it a possiblity. But several questions remained:

  • Would my wife actually go for it?
  • Is it even feasible to get out of the last year of the Mazda lease without taking a bath financially?
  • Would the Leaf be able to handle our needs?
  • Are all the incentives Aaron mentioned actually available and do they all stack together?

The first question was actually the easiest. My wife loved the idea from the beginning. She almost never drives more than 30-40 miles a day, would greatly prefer a smaller car and she hates filling the car with gas.

Range anxiety? Not my girl.

It seems like every time I use her car it’s running on fumes and I have to fill it up for her. After showing her a picture of the Leaf in “Morning Sky Blue,” she deemed it “cute” and was all in.

Which brings us to the second real question: How do I get rid of a Mazda crossover with a cracked windshield, plenty of wear and tear and nearly a year left on a zero-down lease? I honestly figured this would blow up the deal. I mean, this is why Dave Ramsey and the Internet say leasing is an awful idea, right? There was only one way to find out. I got a lease buy-out quote from Mazda finance and headed to my friendly neighborhood CarMax.

After politely pointing out the dings and dents — including some minor hail damage we didn’t know about — I was expecting a serious low-ball offer. To my surprise, the offer was only a few hundred dollars less than our buy-out. Totally doable.

Next, for the Leaf itself. A zero-option Leaf S has an MSRP with shipping/destination fees of just under $30,000, but nearly every Leaf S we found in Denver had the “Charge Package.” This upgrades the on-board charger from 3.3 kW to 6.6 kW (which is very useful) and adds a CHAdeMO fast DC-to-DC charger (which is less useful, at least in Denver where there are only a handful of compatible chargers around).

The SV includes nicer seat fabric, alloys, navigation, the CARWINGS telematics system and the 6.6 kW charger (but not the CHAdeMO port) for not much more money than the S with Charge Package. We decided that was our target. The only dealer with a Morning Sky Blue SV in stock was 30 miles away in the People’s Republic of Boulder, so we grabbed our CarMax purchase offer and headed in that direction.

We took a quick test drive in the Leaf, my wife pronounced it “fine,” and we moved on to talking turkey.

The final question: Is it really possible to get a Leaf as cheaply as Aaron’s article suggests? Short answer: Yes.

More specifically:

  • The $5,000 Nissan rebate and no interest for 72 months can be combined;
  • Dealers are offering discounts way below invoice;
  • The exact amount of the Colorado rebate is MSRP based and requires math — mine will be just under $5,000;
  • Both federal and state rebates come in at tax time, not purchase time.

Another way to look at it is that Nissan and the dealer discounted the car by more than 25 percent of MSRP and tax credits covered more than half of the remainder. Thanks everybody!

The cherry on the cake? Nissan of Boulder offered $1,000 more than CarMax for the trade-in, so I ended up with positive equity on the lease buy out. I plan to use that check to help pay for installing a Level 2 charger.

So far, the wife and kids love the car. It’s obviously not for everyone, but if you have access to similar incentives and don’t need Tesla level range on your EV, the current Leaf deals are going to be hard to beat.

Submitted by Jason Arrington, who is now my hero. Thanks Jason! — Aaron


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  • Merkidemis Merkidemis on Sep 18, 2015

    Also note that you can get used 2011's with under 50K on them for around $8,000.

  • Heidenseek Heidenseek on Sep 21, 2015

    Can someone clarify how the state and federal tax credits for EV's work? If I owe less than the State or Federal rebates do I get the difference back as a refund or is that money "lost"?

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.