The Elusive Electric Car


I got excited recently by articles proclaiming the Free Electric Nissan Leaf.

It’s not the first time I’ve gotten excited over an electric vehicle. I’ve been window shopping them for years, even putting down a pre-order deposit on an electric motorcycle that never happened.

I should have jumped on the Corbin Sparrow, the three wheeled goofy looking car that was $15k, but only $10 with the $5k tax credit. I was only used to paying $1-2k for a car at the time, I couldn’t psychologically make the jump.

But the articles I’d read said, $199/mo lease, and a $5000 tax credit, and whamm-o, free car!

That’s simple math showing 5000/24 months = $204-$199 = $5/month I’m paid to drive a car!

That got me to take a test drive. But the numbers the deal threw down were, of course, in reality and not in my dream world.

On the website, for a Leaf S model (basic model)…
$199/month for a THREE year lease, plus…
$1999 down payment.
Georgia one time ad valorem tax – $1800.
Dealer fees – I think this was around $700.

Added up, that comes out to $324/mo for three years. The actual quote they gave me was $370/month, so there was some more stuff in there that I’m missing. Probably extra for the car mats.

$138/mo reduction for the tax credit over 3 years, so that’s $231/month. Not “free”.

But, maybe it’s a *savings* from my current car situation?

A lease has maintenance included. I have about $75/month budgeted for maintenance for my car.

You’re not paying for gas, though you do have to pay for electricity. According to the Nissan website, when I put in my 15 mile/day driving patterns, along with the 30 MPG I get in Atlanta traffic, I will save about $35/month in energy costs.

I have about $2000 left on my Toyota Yaris to pay it off. Over three years, that amortizes to $55/month.

Insurance for the Leaf would go up by $250/year, or $20.80/mo.

So, differential costing:

Lease/payment – +$231
Energy – +$0
Maintenance – +$0
Insurance +$21
Monthly taxes/reg/emissions – +$0

Lease/Payment – +$55
Energy – +$35
Maintenance – +$75
Insurance +$0
Monthly taxes/reg/emissions – +$14

Difference – $73/month.

A guy can pack a lot of livin’ in $73/month. Or at least, a lot of pizzas.