Saturday, October 15, 2016

WA EV Fence Sitters AKA "T3ers" Read This!

After what seemed like an interminable period of stagnation in the EV World (besides Tesla) there is now rumors flying all over the place of bigger, better and longer just around the corner.  Whether its 2 months for a Bolt, 8 months for LEAF II or 16 months (or more) for a Tesla 3 there now seems to be a ton of things to wait for!


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.

This is from a dealer in OR. I posted this before and wondered why the S trim pricing was not matching and the article I got this from provided ZERO details but it was revealed that Nissan did a mid year update and the price includes the 30 kwh pack and fast charge package.   Now this incentive runs til Dec 15th  but as always includes the disclaimer that the promotion can expire at any time. IOW, standard auto industry "While supplies last" jargon and at these prices the already low LEAF inventory won't be around long.  Again, if 200 miles isn't a requirement, hard to find a better price/performance deal!

But a lot of us are waiting for that extra range and for good reason.  200 miles becomes 150 miles in inclement weather. Rain, snow, and plain old cold weather whittles away at the range. This is a major concern for those who do not live in an EV friendly environment especially one without at least a bare bones public charging network. 

But longer range vehicles are just around the corner. The Bolt with a tested 230 mile range will be on the streets soon and available in WA probably in less than 4-6 months. At $38,500 to start, its not a cheap option by any means but will still have up to a $7500 fed tax discount along with WA State sales tax working out to about $3,000 which means it could be had for an effective $25,000 gasoline car with roughly $2375 sales tax.  

Rumors also flying over a 2017 40ish kwh LEAF hitting the streets in 2-3 months.  Now most of the fuel for this has come from Renault's announcement of their 41 kwh EV hitting the streets.  Guessing we will learn a lot more during the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.  Even if this is true, still no word on pricing but have to think that it will price under the Bolt by at least a few thousand thru factory incentives or simply lower prices. 

Then of course we have the T3 along with its 300,000 advance orders. Tesla has built a reputation of "gathering no moss." They have not always been on time and yes, sometimes they put out products that simply were not ready, but for innovation speed and coolness, they stand alone.  So does the T3 deserve 300,000 orders? Probably not.  Musk created hype by advertising a very attractive price that in today's World would have made a T3 purchase a no brainer.  But the T3 does not exist in today's World and that completely changes the math. 

With the success of the S and the X and Tesla's ability to continue eating into the luxury car market, sales are booming. Probably better than they expected. This has caused a situation where most of the T3's won't qualify for the fed tax incentive.  For a car that Tesla stated will average $43,000 OTD, (effective price today 32,500) it's effective becomes $40,000 before the WA State sales tax incentive. But  WA State changed its EV incentive allowing more types of cars to qualify including the Chevy "Volt." AND it will only cover the first 7500 vehicles registered.  With the huge incentives on the 2016 LEAFs, combined with the Bolt introduction, added Volt sales and expected mid range LEAFs hitting the streets soon,  I expect $3,000 WA State incentive to expire by mid Summer 2017 if not sooner.  This all means the "affordable" T3 will cost at least $38,325 for the entry level model.  

Now things could change.  Obama tried several times to introduce a wrinkle in the EV incentive program including a $10,000 instant rebate for those of us like me who wouldn't qualify for the entire $7500. That failed so he tried an instant $7500 rebate but with the Republican controlled Congress, that also died a very quick death.  But the government makes it a practice to do things at the last second and the failure of Obama's proposal is partly our fault. Not enough of us made our wishes known. I think when the lose of the credit is just around the corner, that will change.  But then again, who knows? Not sure I want to bank on that. 
Now, EVs have been around long enough that a look at the used market is definitely not to be ignored. For modest needs, used LEAFs are almost being given away. Shopping around we are seeing several in the $7,000 to $9,000 range.  If your needs are more robust (and you have a wallet to match) maybe a CPO Tesla is something to look at.  Normally I would say its way too much money despite the huge range but with incentives evaporating faster than Donald Trump's supporters; a lightly used Tesla might not be that much more money after all

There are also some S 60's listed for $44,000 which makes it nearly the same price as the average out the door price on the T3 after the loss of incentives. Here you have a bigger car with similar range slightly used but remember, the sooner you start EV the sooner you save the money. Keep in mind; most of these cars come with supercharger access a price yet to be determined for the T3...

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.


  1. Thanks David for the critical thinking ... again. - Pat Campbell, Vancouver, WA

    1. Thanks Pat. This blog is very much a reflection of my changing views on the state of EVdom. My future is in a complete state of flux right now...

  2. Almost All Electric Cars Are Being Leased, Not Sold, And Leases Are Available For Less Than $100 Per Month, Recharge Cost Per Month Averages $34, Plus List Of Best Current Electric Car Lease Deals

    1. Is the less than 100.00 lease per month include a down payment? Take the down payment divide by 36 months and add to each month for the real price. If you can buy it's better to buy a used lease return vehicle. They are usually low mileage and in good shape.

  3. Almost All Electric Cars Are Being Leased, Not Sold, And Leases Are Available For Less Than $100 Per Month, Recharge Cost Per Month Averages $34, Plus List Of Best Current Electric Car Lease Deals

    1. Very nice blog!

      one thing to mention that anyone who has done it will tell you and that is any stop to charge will take an extra 5 to 15 mins per stop with the average being on the high end. A gas car generally would not have extra time for stops during the trip since they easily could gas up before the trip starts so a stop is more likely to not happen. Granted bathroom breaks vary widely.

  4. lease is better for the new industry

    1. Amen to that! I have leased 2 LEAFs and looks like it is still not time to buy so stay tuned for lease #3!