Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Part 3 of 4 - Financial

A New Hope!

Well Nissan has really surprised me - talk about aggressive pricing and keeping the onboard 110volt charger. These prices really change the 2013 for me.

Let's look at 2013 Leaf MSRP prices:

Leaf S    Model - 28,800
Leaf SV Model - 31,820
Leaf SL Model - 34,840

My 2012 SL Nissan was about 39k delivered, at full MSRP of 37250 - this was with 300 reduced MD sales/excise tax. A 2400 dollar deduction for top of the line. A better heater, faster charging, improved console - wow.

As I noted the S had some severe de-content but what a price drop! Basically a new Leaf with same great drive train coming in at about 30,300 delivered and 22,800 when you get the fed refund. Almost a quarter off for a very comfy electric ride for 5.  A delivered price of 22,800 really putting in contention with the Smart and putting Mini, Ford, even Volt on notice.  That's not far from the price that made me jump for the Think.
And now that we early adopters are out of the way, time for the negotiators to squeeze that bottom line even further down. 
I think this really turns around my negative look at the changes in part 2 - way more hope here.
Let's cross our fingers for Nissan to start giving early adopters a glimpse of what battery replacement is going to run with TN built batteries...
In the showrooms in March!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2nd of 4 - Initial analysis

We won't be having 2013 Leaf pricing changes published for awhile.

Nissan needs to sell Leafs beyond the enthusiast market  Will 2013 model changes help?

So let's talk changes.  Weight reduction in the amounts listed can only provide a small range improvement unless I miss my guess. Really to ring bells the Nissan needs about 120 miles - that would provide a 100 mile range through most of its life as range declines. For someone like me the five year loan period for a car is where I need range to hold up - after that I can consider a new battery. I'd be surprised if the weight reduction ups the EPA 73 rating to 80.  The heater improvement is important for winter range but leaving it out of the 'S' means the most sensitive group to range - economy buyers, are left in the cold with lower range when using heat.

No active battery thermal protection change or battery chem changes leave the Leaf vulnerable to loss of range over time. Recently Nissan 'somewhat' guarantees 75 percent capacity in 5 years or 60,000 miles - I do appreciate this but it is less then the typical buyer needs.  So EPA 73 becomes EPA 65. Tough to sell over the Volt for a couple grand more. I love my Leaf but I expect year 5 to be downright tough. Like many middle class electric enthusiasts I have put all my spare funds into buying 10k above my usual high milage low emissions econobox pricing.

The charge improvement is big to a certain segment - 4 vs 7 hours is what is represented by 6.6 vs 3.6 kW charging. If you have an late night economy electric rate time for this is big. For many flat rate electric users such as I - seven hours of sleeping charges just as well either way. So again appeal but limited audience.

I don't like to sound again like a broken record but the 'B' mode for added regen is going to appeal to the enthusiast and hyper miler. However again we rat race commuters tend to forget our hyper mile skills - again the market beyond the enthusiast is unlikely to buy for this.

Finally the upscale options - leather, sound.  If you are looking for luxury appointments - why not a base Tesla 'S'? Or the gas option to eliminate range worries the Volt provides.

Do not misunderstand - each years improvements have helped. Lost cost leases under $200 especially. However we will have to hope for more improvement or very low prices to make this the breakthrough change. I'm sorry to say that because I love the Leaf and Nissan's leadership in reintroducing EV's for the common market. Tesla's for the rich are well and good but they are the only all electric that is close to a full 'real car' replacement. For the ordinary buyer - I still believe it may still not be enough to sell the Leaf.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 Leaf's - Part 1 of 4 - SPECS

So EV fans and friends (and the merely interested),

I love my Th!nk. I lust after the Tesla S.

Let's face it though - for most of you out there the main competitors are - the Leaf and the Volt. Maybe a third choice as the Ford Focus gets made in bigger numbers - still a question months after driving one. The Honda FIT - even more vaporwarish out there on lease terms for under 100 cars in 2012 - too bad.

Right now you want to go down to a dealer, test drive and buy or lease something like a compact to mid-size. Leaf or Volt is it.

So when Nissan announces a 2013 upgrade we'll pay attention and this is coming in four parts here.

1. Announced specs today.

2. My analysis of the new specs as a 2012 owner as well as a two EV owner.

3. MSRP and range - my thoughts - should be in less then two weeks.

4. Actual hands on analysis when the 2013's are available.

Some of this for a while is going to be a thought experiment as we pick through the three new models below in this NISSAN list of models standard and optional features.

Basically there will be three models - a extra stripped down econo version 'S', an 'SV' that looses a few more options, and the SL we know and love with a leather and sound option

I do have one early analysis note now - where dealers are selling 2012 LEAF's with firesale pricing, can you live with 7 hour charging, a less efficient heater, and no B (?) mode? If you can, the LED head lamps, full navigation system with CARWINGS, backup cam, solar 12v battery charger, built in fast charger,home link mirror, and other goodies are now only standard on the new SL so maybe the OLD SL is worth a look if you can drive a hard bargain? The new SV looks severely decontented too so the old 2012 SV basically loosing the CHADEMO - fast charge port, solar 12v tender, and backup cam? Well it's going to loose more - LED headlamps in particular? Again still could be worth a 2012 look.....

Now that's a mouth full - courtesy Nissan by way of the My Nissan Leaf website. More to come on these specs and the 2013 news in my next post.


Monday, January 7, 2013

A year - Two EVs and 15 thousand miles.

A year ago - 2011 - Dec 18, I took possession of my 2012 Leaf.

I had awaited over a year and a half for this moment. I received a full $7500 federal deduction a few months later.

I paid full retail. Yep hindsight is 20/20 and had I waited a cheap lease would have been possible. Still I'm glad for my decision.

I joined the EVA/DC club of electric vehicle supporters.

I showed my car at the January 2012 DC Auto show and talked to hundreds of car owners about the fun of an electric. Working the EVA/DC booth was fun - if a long day or two. Working and going to the show with me was my younger son Kevin - he developed a similar passion for the cars that may one day help us out of the climate crisis our planet faces.

I put over 13,000 miles in one year of the Leaf. Increased my daily commute from 27 to 52 miles a day and have had no issues even with other driving on top of that. I did have to upgrade my portable charger to 240volt charging for about $500 with heavy duty cables.

At it's one year battery evaluation, my Leaf was 100% no bars lost at the end of November 2012

In September 2012, I took possession of a second electric - a cute 2 seater Think City electric that my younger son Kevin will eventually own. Terrific car and basically the same size battery and range for $15,500 after my SECOND $7500 federal deduction. This car is less luxury then the Leaf, but do the math after the deduction. Was an MSRP of about $33000 down to $23000 with all tax tags costs etc.

Leaf 39,500 delivered - 7,500 = 32,000.  Range rated 73 EPA, mine up to 80 with mild to careful driving - 5 seats.

Think 23,000 delivered - 7,500 = 15,500. Range 75 - 82 again with mild to careful driving - 2 seats.

The Think City - about 2 miles more range then the Leaf.  Why the great price? Basically Think Europe is again in bankruptcy and Think City USA is funded to take care of the three year warranty with a skeleton staff that has been VERY responsive. When all new 2011 Think City's needed a heater replacement the small staff went to all the Think Citys in the US and got the job done.

In November 2012, I retired my ICE 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid.   I still own one third of a Toyota Yaris, I share with two others for long drives when needed.

So 2012 has been a great year for electric vehicles at my home.