Buying our second EV

Discussion in 'General' started by Lou Grinzo, Mar 2, 2018.

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  1. Lou Grinzo

    Lou Grinzo Member

    I'd like to kick off a discussion about buying/leasing an EV to replace an EV.

    Before I get into details, I want to mention that of course buying a car is highly personal in terms of taste and what works for one person is a terrible fit for another. Having a degree + graduate work in economics, I've studied more about utility functions and consumer choices in various microeconomics classes than I care to think about.

    Part of my interest in starting this discussion is selfish, as my wife and I are planning to replace my 2013 Leaf S fairly soon, highly likely no more than 18 months from now, possibly much sooner. But I think/hope it could be useful for others here as well as newcomers to this site.

    On to the fun stuff...

    This is different from buying a first EV for one important reason: I don't have any uncertainty about what range I really need, how my wife and I will like life with an EV, etc. We're a two-car household, and for my car, an EV is definitely the way to go. I've loved driving my Leaf (but had one really bad experience with Nissan -- see below) and can't see us ever going back to a vehicle that uses anything but electricity. Our car still hasn't lost a bar, drives great, recharges overnight in our garage, has enough space for people and stuff, etc.

    Because of where I live (Finger Lakes Region of NY), I will likely have local access to the new, longer-range Kia Soul EV and the Hyundai Kona EV, plus I happen to be in an area with four local Nissan dealers(!), which probably helps explain why seemingly every 5th car on the road is a Rogue. We also have some high volume Chevy dealers, including one (Bob Johnson) that claims to be the largest volume Chevy dealer in the US, although they seem to no longer carry the Bolt or the Volt. But my location also means that there's almost no chance I'll have a Tesla facility nearby; the closest ones are Cleveland or Toronto, which is too far for our comfort.

    So, to focus things a bit, here are our feelings about various models:

    2018 Nissan Leaf S
    Range and price are fine, and we like everything about the car, but haven't driven one yet. The one, highly subjective thing, that's making us pause is the way we were treated by Nissan when the heater in my '13 Leaf broke about 3 months ago. Short version: The total repair bill was an absurdly high $1,837, which included 9.5 hours of labor(!). I wrote to Nissan and very politely pointed out how unreasonable this was, and they declined to do anything to help me. So the thought of buying or leasing a car from them is not exactly pleasant. By later this year perhaps we'll soften our view.

    2019 Leaf S
    Will all 2019 Leafs have the 60 kWh pack? If so, at what price? (I keep seeing people toss around a price delta of $5,000, but I don't know if this is a guess or a leak.) And will the impending arrival of the 2019s late(r) this year mean Nissan will fire sale the remaining 2018s? I wouldn't mind buying/leasing a 2018 late this year if I can get a genuinely good deal. (My 2013 Leaf was a lease, which I extended for 6 months and then bought when they were offering people an $8,000 incentive. My total cost for my Leaf -- money down + lease payments + buyout cost -- was $18,000. I don't expect to come near another score like that.)

    Chevy Bolt
    Love the exterior looks and utility, and the range is a nice bonus. We haven't driven one yet, although we could any time. I've read a lot online about the bad seats and the light-colored dashboard reflecting off the windshield. Neither of those is a problem that should have made it into production on any car, and they're both things I refuse to live with. We're hoping they slipstream fixes for two issues into the 2019s, which would make the Bolt a serious contender.

    Kia Soul EV
    If the higher range on the 2019s is at least 150 miles, as is being reported online, this could be a good match.

    Hyundai Kona EV
    What little I've seen of it looks very promising.

    2019(?) Buick SUV EV
    Seems like a good match, but details are still pretty sparse.

    2019 Ford Focus EV
    If it's 150 miles of range with no intrusive battery, then this is a real contender. A significant contributor is that there's a local Ford dealer that has an outstanding reputation for sales and service.


    Right now, we're in wait-and-see mode, to find out what's going on with some new cars and the 2019 Leaf. We're open to leasing or buying, and will likely let the choice of car and available deals influence that part of the decision.

    Opinions, anyone?
    silversod and WadeTyhon like this.
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  3. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Definitely try the Bolt EV seats before making your decision. I, like most owners, find them comfortable enough. There is a vocal minority who hates them. The seats may work for you, they may not, but give it a shot regardless. The only suggestion I will make is to take your wallet out of your back pocket on your test drive! (And the dash is a non-Bolt specific problem. Any car with a light interior that is driving from direct sunlight into a shaded area like a parking garage will have this same glare issue. Just don't get the light interior if it would be an issue for you.)

    I'm very curious about the Kona EV and the new Buick EV so I would definitely wait until those come out before making your decision. They should have much better interiors than the Soul and Bolt. I like the roominess of the Soul EV but the interior is kind of bland. And the Bolt EV interior is love it or hate it. (I love it, others don't)

    As far as the leaf, definitely wait for the 60 kWh Leaf. Only go for the 2018 leaf if you're going to lease. Hopefully the 2019 will have better thermal management so that battery degradation is reduced. This would also help with the Leaf's tendency to overheat and decrease the charge rate after multiple DCFC charging stops. I have read early hands on reviews that say this is still an issue.

    As for the Ford Focus, I'd skip it but that's just me. ;) But one good thing about the Focus is that it can be really cheap compared to the other options.
    Marcel_g likes this.
  4. Lou Grinzo

    Lou Grinzo Member

    My wife and I are picky about interiors, so I will probably stop by a local Chevy dealer and sit in a Bolt. I'm not crazy about the pics I've seen online, but I know how deceiving those can be. (When we last replaced her car we were pretty sure she'd wind up with a Ford Escape. Sat in one, hated the interior design, and scratched it off the list without even a test drive. Went across the street (literally) and bought a Rogue.)

    I think we're in an interesting situation here in the US in that the number of serious EV contenders at sub-Tesla prices will increase a lot in the next year or two. I wonder if that will have a slight chilling effect on sales as people like me who don't have an urgent need for a new car choose to wait a bit and watch sites like IEVs for updates.

    I'm not concerned about the Leaf battery. Mine turns 5 years old in a couple of weeks, and it's still showing all bars. I do notice that the lease price has gone up. When I leased mine, the deal was $2k down, $200/month for 36 months. The 2018 Leaf S has gone down in price but the lease is (rounded) $4k down and $240/month. Sounds like a response to all the people leasing EVs.

    I'm assuming that there won't be a blockbuster announcement in the next 12 to 18 months, e.g. Honda is bringing out a 200-mile Clarity EV. But I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised...
  5. Marcel_g

    Marcel_g Member

    I think in your situation, I'd be inclined to wait a bit to A) see how the availability and pricing of the Kona, Soul, and Niro are going to play out in your area, since they all look like really practical long range EVs, and B) Nissan might offer some good deals on the 40kwh Leaf after they've announced the 60kwh version. If the Hyundai and Kias are only available in California, Canada, and Europe, that kind of shortens your list.

    I'd probably skip the Focus too, but mainly because it's just too small.
  6. Lou Grinzo

    Lou Grinzo Member

    I'm keeping the Focus in the "possible" category, simply because the 2019 will be a major update, and I don't know a lot of critical details like size, interior design, price, etc.

    I'm definitely leaning toward waiting at least until late summer, likely longer, to see what kind of deals Nissan cooks up. Although it's still not clear to me if the 2019 Leaf will have the 60 kWh pack in all trim levels, just the top level, or a new, fourth trim level, or...? Batteries are getting affordable and large enough that it makes sense for companies to offer two sizes, as Hyundai or Kia will be doing with a roughly 40 and 60 (64?) choice. If I can get about 150 real world miles out of a 40, I'd be fine with that.

    Even though I'm convinced we won't see a blockbuster announcement from Honda or Toyota on the EV front, I have to admit that I would love to see them unveil something at an auto show this summer and complicate my life even more.
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  8. Marcel_g

    Marcel_g Member

    You just might be able to with them. Hyundai quotes the useable capacity, not sure about Kia. So the Kona at 39 kwh will have a bit more than the 2018 Leaf which is apparently ~ 36.5kwh useable.
  9. Lou Grinzo

    Lou Grinzo Member

    To churn this thread up again...

    As my wife and I have been digging into things a bit more, we feel that our options are dwindling. The 60-only pack size (in the US) and likely $40k price for the Kona EV make it much less attractive to us. Since we're now thinking about buying/leasing likely before winter this year, that rules out the Soul EV and the reworked FFE. We're looking closely at the 2018 and 2019 Leafs, which leaves us wishing we had a crystal ball so we'd know what the 2019 Leafs will be. Specifically, how will the 60 kWh packs be incorporated into the line up? All trim levels or just some? The only pack or an option? And how much will they be charging for a 60 or a 40 Leaf? (I'm guessing that Nissan will try VERY hard to keep a basic S trim Leaf as affordable as possible, which suggests it will be either a 40-only car or a 40 with a pricey option for the 60 pack.)

    What respectable rumors has anyone heard about the 60 kWh pack and the Leaf, in terms of how it will be available, and at what pricing, relative to other offerings?

    (I should mention that we're still intrigued by the possibility of getting a fire sale deal on a 2018 Leaf as Nissan tries to clear them out. As I said initially in this thread, a 40 kWh pack should be fine for our intended use.)
    Marcel_g likes this.
  10. First, churn away!

    I've heard rumors about the 60 kWh pack, but I don't personally feel any are particularly credible. I'm even skeptical they will have an active temperature management system (but that's just me). Pricing-wise, I'd like to think Nissan will try to keep the price near the $35,000 level, but that's a total guess.

    The end-of-model-year fire sale sounds like a good strategy. Hopefully we'll have a lot more visibility regarding the prices and introduction dates of other models by then too.

    Just wondering, did you get a chance to check out the Chevy Bolt in person?
  11. Lou Grinzo

    Lou Grinzo Member

    I haven't seen a Bolt yet, but will Wednesday. I'm taking my Leaf in for routine maintenance, and the dealer has a few 2018 Leafs and a row of Bolts. So I plan to do a bit of comparison shopping while I'm there. I'm very interested in seeing how the Bolt feels, size-wise, as I've seen quite a few on the road, and while they are on the small side, I don't think that will be an issue for me. (I drove a Scion xA for almost 7 years.) I'm also curious about the interior. All the pics I've seen online make it look like something I'd have a hard time living with, but I want to see it in person. My wife and I love the interior of her 2016 Rogue, and we both find some interiors, like many current Fords and (I think) the Bolt to be too busy.

    Another wrinkle is that this same dealer has 2 or 3 2017 Bolts on the lot, and those are marked down by just enough to get my attention.
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  13. Awesome, look forward to hearing how you feel about the inside of the Bolt. Hopefully it's magically large inside like the Honda Fit.

    Just checked and my local Chevy dealer's website says they have one in stock. Thinking of checking that out tomorrow if I can find a few extra minutes.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  14. ekutter

    ekutter Member

    So you don't think the 2018 Leaf is too "busy"? I test drove one last week and was fairly impressed. But the dash felt pretty cluttered. I'm all for buttons, but there were buttons everywhere. And the screen seemed tiny. The local dealer here in Bend, OR said they were motivated and could deal, but when I made an offer, he wasn't interested, not even countering. Tried to push me into a 2 year lease. After a $8500 trade in value on my 2010 Prius, it still would have cost me another $6000 over those two years. Unless it was a bait and switch with the trade in value he gave me, that would have been an effective $604 / month lease. No thank you. So I'm in the same boat as you. Screaming deal and I'd take the 2018 40kwh leaf and drive it for a couple years. Otherwise wait and see what comes out.
    The one thing I really like about the Bolt that is missing on the Leaf is a cover for the back floor area that effectively makes a flat surface when you fold down the seats.
    I was interested in a Bolt, but the local Chevy dealer isn't a "Bolt dealer" so won't sell or service them.
  15. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I notice the BMW i3 isn't on your list. Any reason for that, or did it just get overlooked?
  16. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    There are still over 1,000 2017 Bolt LTs sitting on lots that have been there well over a month. There are almost no 2017 premiers left. In other words, the 2017 Bolts that remain are the least popular trims.

    If you're fine with cloth seats and less of the active safety features, then you can probably pick one of them up at a very reasonable price. Lots of them are marked down thousands of dollars. The same will probably be the case with the 2018 Leaf once the 60 kWh version is out.

    I love the interior and the extra space of the Bolt. Literally everyone who climbs into the back seat of my car, without prompting, says "Wow, it is really spacious back here." or "Wow this a lot of leg room!" or "This car is bigger inside than I expected" :)
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  17. Kendalf

    Kendalf Active Member

    If you have any additional state or local incentives for EVs, you want to read the fine print before signing any 2 year leases. In CA for example there is a $2500 state rebate for the Leaf and other EVs, but only if your lease term is 30 months or longer.
    Domenick likes this.
  18. ekutter

    ekutter Member

    Thanks for the heads up. In Oregon, there is also a new $2500 state rebate (but being contested so no guarantee) but I pretty much assumed I wouldn't get it on a lease. Regardless, I'm not a big fan of leasing, so it would have pretty much had to be putting money back in my pocket for me to sign up. I'd rather buy the car out-right at a great deal giving me more flexibility when and to what to replace it with. My Prius still runs fine and costs me about $600 a year in gas. So keeping that for now makes the most financial sense. Just not as much fun.
  19. SilverNewt

    SilverNewt New Member

    Lou, I'm very curious to hear what you end up with. I'm in the same boat - my 2012 Leaf is getting up there at 66,000 miles. I too drove a Scion xA for years and love the look of the Bolt though it's a little big (tall) for my taste.

    At the moment my thoughts are:
    1. Replace the battery. Is it worthwhile to put a $5000 battery in a $3500 (trade in value) car? Allows me to keep rear heated seats but get newer battery chemistry.
    2. Find someone leasing a Leaf, buy out at end of lease. 2013 and newer batteries seem to do much better than mine plus heat pump in higher trims and all of the other improvements. Ideally a 30kWh SV or SL.
    3. Certified pre-owned Bolt or Leaf or i3 or ???
    I can't stomach the depreciation of buying new. My current car was a CPO, purchased in 2015 at 36,000 miles for $13,000. She's down 3 battery bars, my 35 mile round trip commute tests the cars limits if the weather is < 0 degrees F or I maintain 60+mph but neither are common in metro Boston traffic. Thankfully my employer put in electric car chargers so I can put of the decision indefinitely - it will be many years before the battery can't handle 18 miles one way!
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  20. Lou Grinzo

    Lou Grinzo Member

    As planned, I visited the local car superstore where I bought my Leaf (and my wife's Rogue) for routine service, and checked out the 2018 Leaf and the 2017 Bolt while there.

    I looked at and sat in a Leaf SV, and as expected it felt a lot like my car, despite having a much more advanced set of interior features.

    I then went across the lot to the Chevy side of the dealer and looked at a Bolt. This was a trip down memory lane, as I had the unmitigated joy of dealing with yet another salesman who didn't know the first thing about EVs and was determined to impress me. Aside from his ignorance, which included things like a straight-faced assertion that not having power seats in the Bolt made sense since you want to preserve the electricity for the motor (no, I'm not making this up), he enlightened me with the "fact" that GM had built so many 2017 models that they were skipping the 2018s entirely and wouldn't make any more until late in the year when the 2019s arrived. Again, this is literally what he said. Oof.

    As for the Bolt, it also didn't really surprise me. I like the exterior looks a lot, but really wasn't pleased at all with the interior, particularly the dash. The overall design, including that white/very light gray material in the dash itself, left me cold. I sat in a Premier trim level, and for those few minutes the seat felt fine. I paid close attention to this after all the reports I'd read online of the seats being uncomfortable, although that may have been the cloth seats in the LT trim.

    I'm really stuck about what to do about this. My Leaf is still showing all bars and has no other issues, but a change in our needs since I started this thread is pushing me toward getting something with more range, and the 2018 Leaf would be a comfortable fit in that regard.

    One big factor I keep bumping up against is the US Federal tax incentive. If I wait too long -- say until the middle of 2019 -- then there's a good chance I'll miss at least part of that $7,500. (As nuts as the political scene is in the US right now, I have no reason to believe that the Federal tax break will be renewed right away, if ever.)

    I'm tempted to buy the silver Leaf S that this dealer has in stock and lock in the Federal and State incentives ($9,500 total) and the best trade-in I'm likely to get for my 2013 Leaf (about five bucks, I'm guessing). The current Leaf lease rates are insanely high; the dealer quoted me over $6,500 plus 36 payments of $258, on an S. So it's either buy off on playing Battery Roulette or sign up for a high lease price. Or buy/lease the Bolt, which does nothing for me. Or sit back and wait for Nissan to fire sale the 2018 Leaf when the 2019 is about to arrive. Or wait for the Soul EV for FFE or...


    Someone asked above about the BMW i3. It never made the list because of price.
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  21. Lou Grinzo

    Lou Grinzo Member

    One more minor update. After talking this over with my wife last night and briefly at breakfast, we think we've come around to a solution I can live with but don't love: Buy either an S or SV now, to get the full tax credit and take advantage of a $2,000 markdown on these trim levels at the dealer, and also preserve our flexibility to trade the car in 2 years from now if there's a pleasant surprise -- the Soul EV is a perfect match for us at an acceptable price, etc.

    The main reason we're considering an SV is features. I really like having nav and the all-around camera feature on my wife's Rogue. I can get nav on an SV, but the all-around is beyond reach without going all the way to an SL, and I'm too cheap to pay approx. $4,000 over an SV for basically one feature. (My wife, who doesn't suffer from my pathological thriftiness, is pushing for an SL. If the dealer had one in a color I like this would be A Big Discussion, but they don't so I'm spared that ordeal.)

    We're headed to the dealer tonight to see what kind of deal we can cut, as there's the wildcard of our trade-in. In the past, we got good to very good deals with this dealer on trade-ins, so I'm optimistic that won't be a deal-killing issue.

    The bottom line is that no matter what we do, we're still stuck with very few options. Like everyone else here, I hope and expect that to change a lot in the next 2 years, but right now, the combination of what's actually available in my area, prices, lease rates, the looming phase-out of the Federal tax incentive, etc. make this an exceedingly interesting situation...
  22. Charles Hall

    Charles Hall New Member

    You should have taken the Bolt on a test drive. That's where it really shines.
  23. Thanks for the update.
    I would only say that, if SL gets you the all-round view you like, and makes your wife happy too, then do that.

    It's crazy that, although there is the perception out there that there are any number of EVs to choose from now, that's not really the case.

    Looking forward to hearing what happens next.

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