By on September 11, 2015

2015 Nissan Leaf

My enthusiasm for Nissan’s dirt-cheap Leaf in Colorado is well documented. Here in the Centennial State, we have 100 ways to make a 2015 Nissan Leaf affordable for poor journalists like me — thank you, Beer Baron Governor.

For me, the specter of a brand-new car for less than $10,000 is too good to pass up — and even good enough to delay my quest for the best Alfa Romeo Milano in the U.S. That even felt weird to type.

So on Thursday afternoon, I packed up the girlfriend, my expectations for a rock-bottom priced Nissan Leaf and hit the local dealership for a rendezvous with the least-expensive new car in America. 

First, a note: my Leaf-buying experience isn’t typical. I don’t need a new car, and I don’t particularly want one either. Classic cars is something I do, not something I want to do and thanks to many years of syndicating a column about new cars around the Intermountain West, I’m never at a deficit for cars in the driveway. I’m lucky. I can admit that.

But when a friend pointed out how ludicrous the deal for a Nissan Leaf in Colorado was, I couldn’t resist. Some quick maths from Thursday:

$29,010 — Base price
-$7,500 — Federal tax credit
-$5,200 — Colorado tax credit
-$5,000 — NMAC finance credit
– No interest for 72 months
– Free charging for two years
= $11,310 before you factor in dealer desperation to move a year-old electric car off their lot while gasoline is at a historically low price.

I’m ready to party like it’s 2009.

So at 1:57 p.m. I arrived at my nearest Nissan dealer lot (we’ll call it something synonymous with CarCountry) and started sniffing. As a seasoned, grizzled, jerk-of-an-auto-journalist, I’ve had my fair share of turns behind a Leaf wheel; this was about discovering the girlfriend’s threshold for automotive malaise (even Nissan hems and haws about the Leaf’s driving dynamics).

In the corner, buried beneath an afternoon shadow and about a month’s worth of dead bugs and prairie-blown dirt was my prize: a bone-stock, silver 2015 Nissan Leaf S with hubcaps and $1,398 in questionable dealer markups.

“Can we drive this one?” I asked Bob, our Nissan sherpa for the afternoon.

“Let me go get the keys,” he replied.

“Here are our drivers’ licenses,” I said.

“I can see you’ve done this before.”

Yup. And before we talk monthly payments, we’ll talk about that $799 “Perma Plate Protection” option you’ve installed without asking me, Bob.

(To be fair, it would have taken an extraordinary feat for me to open my pocketbook, made no easier by the Dealer Handling fees and Perma Plate Protection tacked on to the other side of the sticker. I wasn’t out to sit in a dealer’s coffee room for four hours, and I certainly wasn’t in the mood to waste Bob’s time.)

I keenly looked for the assembly sticker on the door jamb to affirm my suspicion that Denver dealers were more than desperate to get rid of their stocks of Leaf models. Despite Bob’s assertion — and the apparent dust on the car — that Nissan dealers just couldn’t keep Leafs on the lot, this particular model had been assembled in February and probably had sat on the lot for nearly that long.

As we hopped into the car, the math set in: these heated seats, this radio, this 24 kWH battery and its 70-something mile range (probably not 100, like Bob claimed) could all be mine for less than a Mitsubishi Mirage.

“I could really afford this today,” I said under my breath.

* * * * *

“How do you like driving it?” I asked my girlfriend from the rear seat.

“I can’t tell if it’s running,” she said.

As we sped up and down one of Denver’s busiest arterials, I struggled to remember what driving one actually felt like. How invasive was the regenerative braking? How much range did the seat warmers eat? Who cares when the car is 10-freaking-grand?

More than 99 percent of my working day is spent thinking about cars, not necessarily buying one. When it’s my money, for my car, I want the best deal and I want to make sure that I’m getting my money’s worth. As I eyed the sticker for the S from the inside, I couldn’t help but feel attracted to the dead Leafs running (silently): the 2015 SV and SL models that became instantly outdated Thursday. I could get Nav and Pearl White Paint for a firm handshake and free coffee.

A 2015 Pearl White SV (with the same questionable perma plate protection and dealer handling fees) awaited our return from the test drive.

“How did you like driving it?” I asked my girlfriend.

“I didn’t hate it.”

Victory.

“Let’s look at this white one.”

For his part, Bob asked if I’d like to talk numbers. “No,” I said. “Not if we’re starting off talking about ‘perma plating’ and ‘dealer fees’ for the first two hours,” I thought. “Thank you though,” I added.

I’m one of those people who can’t know the details without pulling the trigger. If I see the puppy in the window, I’ll buy it. If I know what the car could cost me every month, I’ll start paying it. In short: I’m a sucker. As we left the dealership, in search of another lot for another Leaf, I asked my girlfriend — who’d drive the car most — her thoughts.

“How do you feel about having a Leaf?” I asked.

“I’d be OK with it. How far does it go on gas when the battery runs out?” she asked.

“It doesn’t.” I replied.

“Oh. Um, wow. Oh boy, I didn’t know that.”

We have a ways to go before the end of the month.

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120 Comments on “Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is, Vol. 1...”


  • avatar
    gasser

    I’ve been married for 32 years. Don’t even think about buying a car that the GF/wife/significant other doesn’t like.
    (Unless you are planning to trade her in soon too.)

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I’ve been married for 6 years. If she isn’t driving the car on a daily basis, and whatever I choose is within our budget, then I don’t care if she likes it.

      • 0 avatar
        DrSandman

        @bball40dtw – Start saving money now for your divorce attorney. You’re going to be hung out to dry within the decade.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Although I know he’d never do it, the correct answer is flea to a non-extradition nation.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            As long as I have reliable WiFi or a hard high speed internet line I would still be able to work. The tricky part is getting paid.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Or, I will continue to be happily married, and buy cars that I want as long as they are within our budget and they have space for 1-2 children. My wife is getting a Navigator as her next vehicle so she doesn’t have anything to complain about.

          I am one that believes that spouses sometimes, within reasonable parameters, need to make their own decisions and not be joined at the hip. If she’s going to divorce me because I am driving a used Lincoln or a used van, well, then so be it.

          Why are men so afraid of their wives?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I have to agree with Mr Cole in this instance, the economics are there and as I have demonstrated the exceptionally poor resale does not matter as much because the ATP is already so damn low. If gf doesn’t like it she can get her own car.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      Ha! She was really OK with it. I think it was important for me to bring her along. I forget sometimes how into cars I am that I forget how regular people view them. I think her situation is similar to a lot of people’s: she just assumed that it was a hybrid, and when she heard that it wasn’t range anxiety became very real. It’s an interesting perspective that I don’t often think about.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That is a good point. One of the reasons I like the Volt over the pure EV is just that reason, although a used Volt will still run you more unless you want the first MY.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        My wife feared my Leaf for all 3 years of its lease, although she mildly approved of it because it had an ‘automatic’ transmission. The first few times she used it, I got a call asking how to put it into Park or Drive.

        Her range anxiety was always real, and I’d occasionally joke that we might not make it home. She won’t miss the car, but she did like how cheap it was to operate.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        One thing a lot of people forget when they experience range anxiety is that they’ll be starting with a “full tank” every morning, and never stopping at a gas station. I’ve found that sometimes gives people a different perspective. It’s not like with a gas car where sometimes you’ll get in when you’re in a huge hurry and suddenly realize you have no choice but to wait through a gas stop.

        • 0 avatar

          That is no different from forgetting to plug the EV in.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            More likely to happen, though. Gas stops happen irregularly and you may not have thought you’d need to stop for gas the previous day. If you own an EV the routine is the same every time — plug the car in when you get home.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            You don’t forget. In 2300+ charges I forgot to plug it (the Leaf) in twice, and only one of those times did it mean I had to take a different car.

            It helped to have my charger positioned where I had to walk past it to go inside the house.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> That is no different from forgetting to plug the EV in.

            My Leaf emails and/or texts me if I’m at a known charging location and don’t plug in. It’s saved me a couple of times. I also usually check the car with the app to make sure things are okay. It also texts you if the charging stops for some reason.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I’m confused. Is the car for her, or is the car for you? If it is for you, what difference does her opinion make, unless the lack of range means you will be sponging use of her car?

        Or is the idea that she will keep you from doing something stupid? I wish I had that sometimes… :-)

        If I had a commute, I would certainly buy something cheaply electric for it at this point, even in Maine where we get bupkis for state subsidies.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        I think range anxiety in a place like Denver for a car like that is a good idea. A trip to the mountains, Colorado Springs or even Boulder is a problem. Heck, depending on where you live, even driving to the airport could be a problem

        Better ask for an additional discount.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      There is a big difference between buying a car with your girlfriend and buying a car with your wife, which is one of the reasons you do or don’t get married. One person is nice to have around, the other is a 50/50 financial (legally) and emotional (hopefully) partner; that changes how you make decisions and purchases.

      That said, within our budget my wife picks her car and I pick mine; we both get a veto if one partner really hates the pick. Everybody ends up happy. YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      PeterKK

      I thought this was true, too. But when it was time to buy a commuter car she preeeetty much let me get whatever I wanted (granted this is not a new car, it’s heavily heavily use, but still it’s our hard earned money). So yes win her over, but don’t give up just because she doesn’t like it right now.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Depends if she’ll be driving it or not. We have two cars, and my wife drives one of them 95% of the time she drives. That one needs to make her happy. The other one doesn’t, although she gets a veto. (The one she drives is a Forester, which she likes. She had a love-hate relationship with my G8 and seems kind of indifferent to the LS.)

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Daily driver / family duty? The wife had better be there.

      My own toy? I’m still trying to convince my wife that it’s an awesome car. She does concede that it looks good enough to be my mistress.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Moral of the story: if you value your autonomy and freedom, dont get married.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        After testing driving our Z my wife immediate said “we are buying this”, so I’ve got a keeper. If it was her car she wouldn’t be happy because the clutch is too heavy, the ride too stiff and loud. But she is fine with it being MY car.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    HOMER: Hey, boy, get cracking. Moe upped his order to 20 balls a night.
    BART: Uh, Dad
    HOMER: Call me Beer Baron.
    BART: All the beer from the landfill is gone, Beer Baron. We’re out of business.
    HOMER: But I can’t be out of beer. I’m the Beer Baron!

  • avatar

    I can’t imagine having a leaf as anything but a commuter in Colorado. Too many great places to go that are beyond the range. So I’m not at all surprised these things are gathering dust in Denver.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      I can see your point. But I think the great misconception is that Denver is a “mountain town.” It’s really a prairie town with clear skies. I know so many people here who say the quickest way to tell if you’re native or not is whether you ski; locals hardly ski. The metro area is just so compact now that it seems like they’d be selling better. But I could be wrong.

      • 0 avatar

        Aaron,

        My mother’s from Denver, and I’ve been there a number of times. So I’m well aware it’s a prairie town. In fact, I never really understood Denver’s attraction, as opposed to, say, Salt Lake City, where you’re in the midst of the mountains. (I almost moved to the latter a long time ago.)

        Fun family factoid: my maternal grandmother wrapped her car around the first traffic light in Denver the day after it was installed.

        But Denver IS on the edge of the Rockies, and if I lived there, I’d be wanting to drive into the mountains all the time, and I don’t think 35 miles gets you very far up.

        Very interesting story.

        • 0 avatar
          Aaron Cole

          You’re right. I think it’d be a different story if I-70 weren’t a constant parking lot.

          I went to school in Salt Lake City (University of Utah) and I actually prefer Colorado’s mountains, even though they’re a pain in the ass to get to. Better little mining towns, Peak to Peak is the best road always, and maybe better hiking.

          Thanks for reading and your constant engagement. I really do appreciate it.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Salt Lake’s mountains are peculiar, steep and narrow with zero foothills, which means there aren’t many roads through and within them. But advantage is that hiking and skiing are so close. I’m only 30 minutes from a lift that will provide nearly 3000 vertical feet. A skier or hiker in Denver has to make an all-day commitment.

          • 0 avatar
            AlfaRomasochist

            As a Utah native now living in Denver the biggest difference is that you can actually breathe in Denver in the winter. Totally makes up for the mountains being a bit further away.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Yes, our air quality is f*cking atrocious when those temperature inversions settle in. It’s the one thing I hate about this place and the one thing that could convince me to leave.

            The Salt Lake Valley can either be one of the most beautiful places in the country or a complete festering hellhole, sometimes within only days of each other.

            Fortunately, neither my kids nor I have asthma or other breathing difficulties or I’d be looking elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Thank you. My family and I are all from Denver, and people always ask us if we ski. No. And black people from Denver in particular don’t do a lot of skiing; we just don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          AC, KSW,

          This surprises me. I must drive 45 minutes to get to a “hill” (actually, you ski down from the plain into the river valley) with mayyyybe 200 feet of elevation involved but I enjoy it tremendously. It’s hard to imagine living in sight of the Rockies and not skiing pretty frequently.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Well, aside from the fact that I now live in a different state that is considerably south and east of Denver, I have vivid nightmares of somehow accidentally ending up on a double-black-diamond course, so that sort of puts the kibosh on any skiing plans I might have wanted to make.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            “…somehow accidentally ending up on a double-black-diamond course…”

            This reminds me of my first time on a ski mountain, albeit a small one- Vernon Valley/Great Gorge in Jersey.

            I did good on the bunny slope and beginner hills and was on an intermediate run, heading down a steep hill, traveling at a pretty good clip, when I kinda forgot how to stop.

            So I sat down. That did the trick. Skiing’s a lot of fun.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    5 years from now lets list your life regrets. My guess is it will be well documented and published.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Thanks for sharing this saga in nearly real time. I’m really thinking about one of these to supplement my aging car that gets atrocious mileage (with bonus huge repair bills) over the 18,000 miles a year I drive.

    These seem like a great deal even without the state tax incentive… then I start looking at what a penalty box the S model appears to be. Is the cloth any less gross on the SV?

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Just do it! They are the future. It’s like being unable to decide between a horse drawn buggy…or that new contraption called the automobile. People were reluctant back then…it’s simply fear of the unknown. BTW unless you’re engaged, don’t base decisions on her.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m not trying to knock the Leaf. but pure EVs are the past not the future:

      http://file.vintageadbrowser.com/jjj4k5r0u4bv15.jpg

      Unless battery technology significantly improves, the future is a gas or diesel hybrid. The pure EV has a place but its limits will turn off may potential buyers depending on their needs/lifestyle.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Elon Musk and the $6 Billion Gigafactory respectfully disagree with you, as well as the ~800k EV drivers around the world.

        It is true that battery density is only improving slowly, but Tesla overcomes that limitation by providing lots of battery, and the Supercharger network.

        • 0 avatar

          Tesla’s range is still on the short side, and let me know when the supercharger network is enough to reach anywhere in the US, and there are enough of them that you don’t have to carefully plan your refueling stops.And when all that battery is no longer too expensive for most of the US population.

          As for the gigafactory, even without a surge in the number of Teslas, Elon will make his money back on batteries to store the solar energy your home collectors harvest. So that bet is not necessarily a vote of confidence in EVs.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            DCH,

            The Model 3 or X or whatever and the Bolt, plus the next generation Leaf will be bringing significant improvements to the capabilities.

            However, your point about “anywhere” is well taken. Even with the range of the Tesla Model S, a 258 mile trip (which we do monthly) becomes touch-and-go (especially if you want heat). Remarkably, there are actually 2 Superchargers well positioned along the way, so we could do it (for $100K!).

            But it would still be a nuisance. The Prius *will* do the round trip without refueling, unless I somehow get nasty headwinds both ways. The Corolla can do it with a 4 minute stop at any of dozens of locations along the way. We’ve been on other trips which would be absolutely unworkable with a Tesla.

            So, we couldn’t use a Tesla as our primary car. However, we could use something with Leaf capabilities as our second car and, if we had incentives to match CO’s, this would be my next “second car.” Many families could do this.

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            Agreed. Besides, the effect of repeated high-amp “supercharging” on Tesla’s batteries’ longevity is not yet known.

            And if I’m “covering the miles” (as I occasionally have done on coast-to-coast and Denver-to-coast runs) the last thing I want is a refueling stop that takes 30 minutes or more.

            The big question is whether the automobile will become less popular for travels of 200 miles or more. If it does, then EVs might get more popular. Otherwise, they’re just commuting appliances for those who don’t have — or don’t want to us — mass transit.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          There’s a lot of dang difference between Leaf prices and Tesla prices.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I think it’s way too early to make that assessment. My own suspicion is there isn’t just one “future.” Each powertrain technology will be ideal for different applications.

        Pure EVs for commuter cars, because they are cheap to build, incredibly cheap to operate, and great in traffic.

        Range-extended EVs for one-car families or people who road-trip their commuter often enough to make the maintenance, cost, and weight penalties of the range extender worth it.

        Hybrids for commercial applications where there is a lot of city driving and you can’t stop to charge (taxis, livery, local trucks, transit and school buses).

        Pure ICE vehicles for over-the-road truckers and those who spend a lot of time in rural areas.

        There’s no reason all of those, and maybe others (fuel cell?) can’t be “the future” at once.

      • 0 avatar

        @28carslater

        +1

        I would only add that pure EV’s place is a tiny niche until battery tech improves.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I don’t see why. The tech is more than good enough now that the vast majority of 2+-car families could have one pure EV without any change in their habits. Very, very few families own multiple cars and drive all of them more than 100 miles a day.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I completely agree.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          >> I would only add that pure EV’s place is a tiny niche until battery tech improves.

          David, you should set up an interview and tour with 24M (24-m.com) in Cambridge. I think they’re the real deal. Rather than a new chemistry, they’ve made some huge improvements to tried and true lithium-ion and addressed the manufacturing issues. In fact, they may have made the gigafactory obsolete.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Whether an EV works for someone or not is an individual question, not a blanket assumption. If you live in a densely populated urban area and use a car to just mosey around town, and you have access to a home charger, then it would make perfect sense.

        It makes less sense for someone like me who lives in a suburb, and has to drive 45 minutes one way to get downtown.

        In my case, a pure EV, or even a plug in, wouldn’t make any sense. I don’t drive enough for the economics to work, and from a tax standpoint, I don’t run up a big enough tax bill for the tax credits to be fully utilized.

        The situation changes with something like a Tesla because a) it’s radically more capable than something like a Leaf, and b) if you can afford one, you can afford a second gas powered car for situations the Tesla would be ill suited for, like long trips.

        I’ve long held the case for EVs is stronger with more affluent buyers – they can afford something that’s truly useful, like a Tesla. Middle income buyers with families need a car that does it all (which is why CUVs are so popular), and unless they’re in the unusual situation of not needing to drive much, something like a Leaf would be a real bad choice.

        • 0 avatar
          Aaron Cole

          I actually learned yesterday that if the credits don’t cover your tax bill, the rest is returned.

          https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/Income67.pdf

          I learn all the time from commenters.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @FreedMike: When I got the Leaf in 2012, Nissan simply deducted the Federal tax credit from the MSRP and kept it for themselves.

          That way, I didn’t have to worry about qualifying for it, since I’m not exactly a high roller. I don’t know if they still do this today.

      • 0 avatar
        Rudolph

        Re diesel hybrid •

        A diesel engine powering an electric motor with torque at each wheel determined by sensors and need , seems doable •

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    What’s your home parking/charging situation, Aaron? You’d have to really like the deal to put up with a permanent extension cord to the parking lot or curb.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Good point. I installed a Level 2 charger in my garage, because a) trickle charging gets old, and b) Nissan recommends charging faster than Level 1 most of the time.

      My charger is silent now, awaiting its next EV to fuel. :(

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I have a neighbor family that has three cars including a Leaf. The Leaf is the cheap car and is banished to the driveway. They have a black extension cord which sits at the edge of the driveway and is practically invisible when the Leaf isn’t there.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      Great point. I live in a building with underground parking, so home charging may be difficult. As a matter of fact, I’m checking with the HOA and that could be make or break. I’ll report back.

  • avatar
    Irvingklaws

    So I sezz to her I sezz, “If ya don’t like it, ya can make like a tree and…uh…get oudda here.”

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “I’d be OK with it. How far does it go on gas when the battery runs out?” she asked.
    –Perhaps a Chevy Volt is in your future? Are they dirt cheap too in Colorado?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You claim to be both a sucker for buying things, and also that it’s very difficult to get you to purchase a car – in the same article.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      That may have been confusing. It would have been taken fairly extraordinary circumstances for me to buy a car at that very moment. But in general, rationalizing a purchase for me is a slippery slope — the minute I start computing payments, cost of ownership, color combinations, it’s a done deal.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        How do the numbers work out for the Leaf? Depending on your commute, I expect your fuel savings could pretty much cover your payments, making it a no-brainer. If that’s not the case, it’s a harder sell.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Probably not. You can’t drive a Leaf far enough in a day (unless you’re charger-enabled at both ends of a long commute) to save that much gas money.

          But if the comparison is to a 15 mpg truck, then maybe.

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            I crunched some numbers: With gas at $3.00, putting 10,500 miles a year (60 miles/day for 350 days) on a car that get 35 mpg costs $1800. A 5 year loan on 10 grand at zero percent will run $2000/year. Throw in no oil changes and you’re pretty much even. And most cars don’t average 35 mpg. Of course, electricity isn’t free, so YMMV.

            Lots of variables, but for the right owner the bottom line on this deal is crazy cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Ahh, alright.

  • avatar
    EAF

    Indeed, $10k for a brand new car is dirt cheap!

    As the novelty of owning an EV fades, so will your girlfriend’s range anxiety. At least, this is what I will tell myself if ever in the market.

    I can’t get over the styling of the Leaf however. Aesthetically it is disgusting. Yes, it is subjective and opinions are like a…..

    Keep your money banked Mr. Cole!

  • avatar
    Chan

    This is a very compelling argument for a new car. Is the big charger still an extra $2000-ish?

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      Do you mean the home installed charger or the fast charger on the car?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My home charger was $750 from Home Depot in 2012. Now you can get a decent charger for ~$400. I saved a lot by installing it myself, but not everyone can do that.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The new approach to EVSEs/”chargers” is to go with a portable and a set of adapters. You have an electrician install a 240v NEMA 14-50 outlet and you’re good to go. If you have a garage with a 240v dryer outlet, you can use that with a proper adapter. My EVSE is 120v capable as well and with a good solid 120v 20 amp outlet, you can get decent 2.0 amp charging rate.

        A portable EVSE can also give you the option of stopping at a campground with NEMA 14-50 RV power. Lots of campgounds listed on plugshare.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    @Aaron:

    Some things to consider…

    1) Do you owe enough in federal / state taxes that you’d actually be able to use all of the tax credits? As I understand, these credits don’t carry over to subsequent years, and they’re not refundable in cash (as, say, a EIC would be). So…for this to make sense as “discounts” from the car, you’d have to have a $7500 federal and $5100 state tax bill coming up for this tax year. Personally, there’s no way I could work that up even if I zeroed out my exemptions (and this late in the year, I’ve already doing eight months’ worth of W2 withholding). If you’re going to owe enough in taxes that this makes sense, then hallelujah. Otherwise I’d ask a CPA.

    2) I don’t know where you live in Denver, but where I live (Douglas CO), an EV would make zero sense for me. A commute from here to a Rockies game would eat up pretty much all the juice a Leaf has. A round trip to my SO’s place in Arvada would be dicey range-wise. And there’s no way I’d take a Leaf up I-70 for the weekend to the mountains. Denver’s a lot more spread out than we realize. It’s a consideration around here, for sure. Not sure if you have a gas powered vehicle…

    3) You’re awfully nice to ask your GF what she thinks… :)

    Personally, unless all those tax credits were actually usable for me, I’d pass in a big way on the Leaf. But I’d probably pass anyway – there are plenty of excellent CPO compacts for not much more money that don’t come with the Leaf’s inherent compromises. And no one puts Tru-Kote on them either.

    My opinion, of course…I’d be interested in hearing yours.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The CO state credit is refundable from what I’ve read.

      The federal credit is not refundable. But, his withholdings throughout the year don’t have anything to do with the tax liability the credit is applied to.

      I have well over $7500 of tax liability and I’m a poor loser compared to most of the B&B so I’m guessing Chris could take the whole credit.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      1) @ajla is correct, the rest is refundable.

      2) I live in the DTC so our situations aren’t wholly different. I do have an ICE car, so the Leaf would be a supplement. I don’t necessarily need a new car, but it just seems like the combination of credits and zero charging would make a compelling case to get one for five years down the road, when gas isn’t as cheap. Also, as lame as it sounds, I’d rather not burn gas if I don’t have to. (I should move to Boulder, I know.)

      3) I can’t say I do it all time time.

      Thanks for reading. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, so I appreciate the input along the way.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Interesting.

        Still, I’m not sure I’d buy an electric car now as simply a hedge against future gas prices. If you have an economical car, then the difference in gas prices shouldn’t be earth-shattering on a budget.

        I think I’d invest the money instead. But I’ll be interested to see what happens with you.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @FreedMike: See my reply on the tax thing, above. Nissan made it a non-issue when I got my Leaf.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        How did Nissan do that? Just curious.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          It is because he leased.

          On an EV lease, the leasing bank gets to use the tax credit and it is used to lower lease payments.

          On a purchase, this isn’t possible AFAIK and you have to fill out form 8936 on your tax return to get the credit.

          And thats on the federal credit. Im not sure on the situation for the state credits (I’m guessing it is similar).

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          It was as ajla said. I forgot that the lease vs buy terms were different.

          This greased the deal for me, not to mention the lower monthly payments, and my concerns about the battery’s viability after 3 years.

  • avatar
    RHD

    If you decide to go ahead and buy a Leaf, make ’em an offer you can’t refuse. Six months sitting on the lot, they should have listed it on Ebay by now.

  • avatar

    Get an i8 w/extender instead.

    I know a guy with Leaf, but he lives in a tiny town of Santa Fe, NM. He can’t even go to Albuquerque or Las Alamos with that Leaf. Certainly it’s still better than owning GEM NEV, but nonetheless, any time he’s going anywhere other than work or Whole Foods, out comes Tacoma.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    those dealer spiffs can easily be crossed out. do some research and see what the true cost is. costco member? try that route.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …“I’d be OK with it. How far does it go on gas when the battery runs out?” she asked.

    “It doesn’t.” I replied.

    “Oh. Um, wow. Oh boy, I didn’t know that.”…

    WHAT? Range anxiety is a real thing? You can get an amazeballs deal on a lightly used off lease Gen 1 Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “WHAT? Range anxiety is a real thing? You can get an amazeballs deal on a lightly used off lease Gen 1 Volt.”

      I’ve looked at the (relatively few) available locally with the GM CPO Warranty – but I’m put off by the warranty’s coverage points, which are more applicable to ICE cars-and a small portion that mentions “hybrids”. No specific coverage mentions for the Volt’s unique systems, which makes me think that one could be denied coverage for a failure (as an example) the Volt’s liquid battery cooling system.

  • avatar
    GrayOne

    I wish the range was just a little bit better and I would get one. Like 150 miles.

    I have a 35-40 mile, each way, commute to work. If I had to take the car anywhere except back home, I wouldn’t have enough range.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Well, either the next Leaf or the Bolt could be the answer.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Any chance your work would install a charger? You never know, Facilities may already have been considering it, and your request may be the thing that pushes them to do it.

      Another alternative is of course a Volt: zero gas getting to work, and 37 mpg getting home. I finally got around to driving a one, in search of a screaming deal before the second-generation changeover. I was very impressed. It struck me as a Lexus: silent, pillowy, torquey, and they were offering a very cheap lease based on nearly ten grand worth of discounts.

      (I held out for Labor Day, expecting even better deals. Instead, the discounts expired and were not renewed, apparently because Chevy can’t ramp up production of the 2016s as fast as they’d like, and they’re going to need some 2015s on the lot for a while longer. Oops.)

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    If you get to the tipping point, don’t rule out the SV. You get NAV w/bigger screen, 6.6kW charging standard, alloys, nicer seat fabric, etc. But most importantly, the hybrid heater on the SV is more efficient than the standard one on the S, and improves range in the winter.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I have no advice conerning the Leaf.

    My advice is, don’t get married, unless your GF is some sort of sugar momma who’s going to support you financially.

    The ring changes them profoundly. Your favorite sexual position will now cause pain. Poker night with the guys? Forget it. Then come the kids, which suck the money and life out of you for twenty years, after which, they move out of town and, if you’re lucky, you get a phone call once a week.

    Have a nice day.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I’ve been happily married for 28 years. Over that time, my wife has had virtually no income. Our five kids still seem interested in us, even as they gradually move on with their lives.
      It sounds like your experience has been different, and I’m sorry for that, but it can be done.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Jeez, Baiter, it isn’t 1840 anymore, there IS very effective birth control and there ARE women with as much or as little need to breed as you. A happy match is more possible today than anytime before.

      But you’ve always got to engage brain before using prong. Otherwise you’re just another You. Know. What.

  • avatar
    shaker

    “Have a nice day.”

    I’ve had enough vicarious experiences about marriage (through the travails of friends and acquaintances) to convince me to stay single, and “happy”.

    But, I will likely die in a state-sponsored, understaffed nursing home, with no one to visit and at least chastise the staff for my being covered in my own filth.

    I’ll just have to live for the moment, I guess. :-)

  • avatar
    colin42

    Does the state credit apply to the Volt? If so you many want to look at one towards the end of the year. I’ve already had a dealer offer me a base 2014 at <$27000 out the door, before tax credits. With those tax credits you could be looking at an out of pocket of ~$14,000 for a car with better resale and no range concern.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “I’ve already had a dealer offer me a base 2014 at <$27000 out the door, before tax credits. With those tax credits you could be looking at an out of pocket of ~$14,000 for a car with better resale and no range concern."

      What state? In western PA, there were some decent deals in the spring, but they've dried up – there is little inventory here to drive prices down.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I’ll offer the Cliffs Notes version.

    Aaron, the LEAF is your ‘almost’ car. The car that presses all the right buttons in terms of numbers and needs.

    But it’s not the car you love, or even the car that she really likes. If she is truly apathetic when it comes to all things automotive, you may pull the trigger if…

    1) You’re living together, and she has the option of driving something else.
    2) You’re married and the second part of number one applies.
    3) She lives a life that never tests the range limitations.

    Georgia had similar incentives back in June, and if I remember correctly, they were even offering NMAC rebates and incentives for the used inventory here in Georgia because the imbalance became so great.

    So what did they do? They shucked a ton of the used LEAFS out of the area. I wrote about this in the article below. Long story short, you’re going to see an even bigger collapse in the used side of the LEAF market in the coming year. We’re talking about a 50% drop in value from June 2015 to June 2016.

    If You want a LEAF, buy it used a year from now.

    https://www.yahoo.com/autos/used-evs-hit-by-plunging-values-could-give-savvy-124255982617.html

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Cliff notes version from someone who’s managed to put 19k miles on a Leaf in a year.

      Make sure it has a “lizard” (possibly January 14 or later cars, but I’m not certain)- Google it. A must have is the 6.6kW with CHAdeMO option. Get the 215/50 17’s if you want improved handling. Carwings is good if you want plug-in and power failure warnings texted and/or emailed to you. Make sure it has the heat pump which is in all of the newer Leafs. Get a portable EVSE.

      With heavy urban traffic, I regularly see 100+ mile range. Crawling down I-95 at 22 mph in heavy traffic does wonders for range – trust me.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes, used Leafs are going to become nearly worthless.

      I could see this scenario coming 3 years ago when I leased the car, and Leaf volumes were rising dramatically. It was clear that better EVs – even from Nissan – would be appearing, and tons of Leafs would be coming off lease just as the new products were improving.

      Look at the sales numbers since the introduction of EVs in 2011:
      http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

      The inventory of used Leafs is about to skyrocket, assuming many of them were leases.

      For the moment in the EV market, used Leafs are tracking the depreciation of used cell phones. As Steve said, expect this trend to continue for a while. Leaf depreciation is breathtaking. I’m sure dealers will accept any reasonably low offer just to get it off their lot, especially as winter approaches.

      I also agree with mcs: the ‘lizard’ battery is best, and it was put into cars with the heat pump heater – a double bonus. A portable charger (not the puny 12-Amp one that comes with the car) might be a good idea.

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