Would you buy a used Nissan LEAF?
I've been mulling the idea of replacing my car—a well-over ten-year-old Toyota Corolla. And sadly, I don't live in a city where I can yet go car-free.
Having not bought a car in many, many years, I assumed that the current crop of electric vehicles (EVs) would be outside my price range. Yet as I began my googling, I saw Nissan LEAFs on sale in my area ranging from $13,984 (2013, 3,000+ miles) down to $9,888 (2012, 29,000 miles). Needless to say, that's a HUGE drop in price from the original sticker price. A 2012 Nissan Leaf SV had a $36,380 retail price when new, although tax incentives would have taken a chunk out of the actual price paid.
So why are prices so low? That depends on who you ask. With original three-year leases on many LEAFs coming to an end, and with many customers holding out for the longer range 2017 model, the hugely popular LEAF is now in a kind of a weird no-mans land. Low gas prices may also be depressing demand, and reasonable leases on new models—combined with fat tax incentives—can't be helping the used LEAF market. With consumers still unfamiliar with EV technology, many buyers may also be concerned about battery life and other reliability concerns. Given a new batter pack for a LEAF will cost $5,500, that's a legitimate concern—to a degree.
Yet as this excellent Green Car Reports article on buying used electric cars explains, EVs actually have very low regular maintenance costs compared to internal combustion engines. And you can easily run a test on any vehicle you are interested in to determine current battery status. In fact, Nissan offers battery status protection for LEAF owners for the first 60,000 miles and/or the first five years—guaranteeing at least 9 bars. (A new battery has 12 bars.) As John Voelcker of Green Car Reports points out, very few LEAFs have seen anything like that kind of battery degradation yet and, even at 9 bars, a 2011 LEAF would have about 50 miles of range.
Given that I am looking for the family's second car, which I rarely drive more than 20 miles at a time, this is looking decidedly tempting.
Now I just need to convince my wife.
Anyone else taken the plunge on a used electric car? Any advice for those of us who are thinking about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.