For those of us like me who is looking for the best deal range verses dollars wise, is waiting for a bump in range going to be the right choice? Right now there is a lot of incentives making EVs essentially a cheaper "purchase" option than a gasoline car. This is new. Previously to win the TCO battle, we had to live in a relatively cheap electricity/expensive gasoline area and drive the EV a few years before we started to realize the savings.
Now we all know that the longer you drive the EV, the more you save. On a per mile basis there is not a gasoline car in the World that can touch an EV's efficiency.
This chart shows relative savings driving an EV over a gasoline car. The figures show annual savings if you drive the typical miles in each state. More details here. As you can see, its a win in every state. Another thing to keep in mind; Each number is derived using the average power rates for each state and average number of miles driven annually in each state. Get a LEAF and your savings will escalate with two years of NCTC. Have solar, same thing. Charge off peak in TOU areas like California and again, savings escalate. So generally speaking; unless your driving needs are very modest, you are likely to save more than this chart displays. OBTW; New Jersey will soon implement a 23 cent per gallon gas tax hike... :)
So this chart illustrates that the sooner you start on the EV trail, the bigger the pot of gold at the end. But there are other reasons why waiting might not be in your best interest especially if 200 miles is not really a requirement for you.
It wasn't until I mentioned a great offer to buy my 2013 S off lease that I realized that a lot more people than I realized were happy with their 90 mile LEAF despite knowing that that range was dropping every month. Yes, most were 2+ car families so a gasser was always in the wings for that occasional trip across the state. In fact, many were shocked I did not take the deal. "I am not thrilled with the range of my LEAF but for that price!" was told to me over and over. Apparently a price/range performance still applied even at the low end of the spectrum.
And this does make sense. Before taking my current job which requires me to travel to my client's location, I would have survived EASILY on the LEAF's range even after losing a few bars. The current state of public charging isn't really acceptable for work purposes but for personal trips, it will do. I am more than ok with incorporating stops in the journey. Today I will be going to celebrate the first anniversary of my great nephew's entry into this World. It will be 65 miles one way in VERY unfriendly driving weather. But nothing a 30 min stop each way can't fix.
Another thing making EVs a no brainer is dealer incentives. Its the same ole year end closeout to make room for the bigger and better. The 30 kwh LEAF provides a better charging profile and a boost in range along with a MUCH longer battery capacity warranty and its priced to sell.
So like Wow! What to do?
My advice? (or at least what I am considering) I will separate based on need....
For the bargain hunter who needs are very modest; Used LEAFs can be had for super cheap. Low gas prices are driving some used LEAF prices into the ridiculously low category. But the range will be a factor if your needs approach 50 miles at a time or your area is not EV friendly.
For the modest needs; Jump on the 2016 LEAF closeouts. These prices are really not to be believed and one of the biggest reasons is that I sincerely do not think the WA State sales tax incentive will survive long enough to cover the LEAF II. Remember the 30 kwh LEAF has a much better fast charge profile which should be maintained even 6-7 years down the line when degradation is setting in. It is nice to now actually get that "80% in 30 mins" performance!
For the Road Warrior; This is a tough call. The Tesla CPO provides a bigger more known entity but at a significant jump in price. But Supercharger access is a tough perk to beat and that network has not shown any signs that its ready to rest on its laurels. An 85 kwh pack will provide very useful range for probably at least 8-10 years which translates to a minimum savings of likely $12,000 - $15,000 over gasoline and more. Best of all; its here and now.
The Bolt promises to be a "Tesla beater" but that is the issue. The Bolt is all promise and no substance. This is not Chevy's first foray into an EV. The Spark is out there in very limited numbers so the real question besides reliability is will they be available in decent numbers in a non CARB state like WA? But with a range over 200 miles and an effective price well under $30,000 it is a tough deal to beat!
Our state despite being a leader in EV adoption has been ignored several times and I don't see that changing. I do think that Chevy understands the market here and we are "up there" but we won't be first. I think the Bolt will be a viable option by no later than March 2017 so its a great option at a great price point especially if you qualify for the whole fed tax thing.
For me? I doubt its a go for me. The price I can overcome, but the "buy first, ask questions later" approach I am not sure I can overcome. I leased my first LEAF because of the tax incentive. It was my original intention to lease it, get the full tax benefit than buy it. I soon realized after taking possession that Nissan was essentially offering me a "3 year try it before you buy it" test drive with nearly no extra cost to me. This was especially true on my 2013 lease where the "rent" cost for the 3 year lease (Rent is basically the equivalent of loan interest) was less than a dinner at a chain restaurant. I admit to becoming accustomed to that lack of commitment. :)
Sadly, my long awaited choice; the LEAF II is not likely to be here in time for WA Tax incentive which means likely and effective price near to the Bolt and probably with slightly less range and a BMS/TMS system yet to be determined. But again, if Nissan continues with its 2 year NCTC program, it still makes it a viable option. Add to that; the best lease terms in the biz.
Finally; the darkhorse. the rumored 2017 LEAF with a the 40ish kwh battery. Not the long range choice but in an EV friendly area like Western WA, it is more than enough for me, especially at the right price and the price will be right because it will be here to gather all but the dealer incentives. As a returning customer, I will save something there! The price is unknown but if I had to guess, I would say mid $30K making the effective price into the mid $20K.
Now, this is going to come as a huge letdown to many of you, but its becoming clearer and clearer that that the T3 has been outdone... several times.
There are several more choices I did not touch on including the Soul EV which will have a longer range version out soon. The fed tax credit will not be an issue for them for quite a while. So if you miss the bargains that are out there now, you will still likely have the chance with lower volume EV offerings from Kia, Ford and VW. Now VW promises to have a very large footprint in the EV arena but their late start insures a bigger fed discount.
Another thing I failed to note is that the fed tax discount does not end abruptly. The issues with Chevy Nissan and Tesla still remain but after they hit the sales target of 200,000 units, then the clock starts to tick. The full credit will be available up to the end of the quarter after the sales target is achieved meaning you can still get the full credit potentially just short of 6 months longer. But all three should hit that target in 2017. With EV recognition accelerating among the general public, sales will be increasing so it will likely be earlier in 2017 than later.