How I Bought A Ridiculously Cheap Brand-new Nissan Leaf

by Ur-Turn
how i bought a ridiculously cheap brand new nissan leaf

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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2 of 63 comments
  • 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"?

  • Gemcitytm Why does it seem every EV seems to have ridiculous amounts of power? Yes, I know they're heavier than ICE models but who on earth needs 708 HP? How about a nice, compact EV with, say, 250 HP and 350-400 mile range? Is that impossible with today's tech? (I currently drive a 148 HP Mazda 3 ICE and it has all the get-up-and-go I need.)
  • CEastwood I could have bought one of these if I had the cash in 76 for $1000 white , red interior , 3 speed stick with whitewalls/ wire hubcaps - it was mint and gone a day after I saw it . But the real catch that got away was an all original 69 green Camaro RS convertible 327 4 speed with 46K on the clock for 1800 that I saw a few months earlier . Young and poor was not a fun place to be !
  • KOKing I'm in an emissions check only state, and I'd trade that away for a safety check all day.
  • Bd2 The hybrid powertrain in the Sportage and Tucson are the ones to get.H/K should discontinue the base NA 2.5L powertrain and just build more of the hybrid.In the future, maybe offer a 2nd, more powerful hybrid (the hybrid 2.5) which will first arrive with the next Telluride/Palisade.Kia also needs to redo the front fascia for the Sportage's refresh.
  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.