Conclusion - The 2013 Leaf models - I'm very positive.
Having seen an 'S' model Leaf for $28,800 I'm jazzed at the new low price. That's my favorite.
When Kevin and I worked the DC Auto show we had a chance to see the S in person and I am just floored.
Why? The 'S' $28,800 MSRP
Nissan definitely tries to 'up sell' you. There are things you will miss - cruise control and nav system. Chademo fast charging and the new faster charge system. Note though - my chademo 'fast' charger port is still a virgin after a year - no fast chargers yet in Maryland. Here's the 'S' CD AM/FM stereo:
Keep your eyes on the prize though and what a winner it is. 24kwh battery with the same range as my 2012 or the older 2011. That is about 75 miles three season driven normally with 65 on the highway. Winter is definitely harder but even the S has heated seats and steering wheel - just like mine. Your mileage on cold 20 degree days in Maryland will be more like 60.
Now that sounds small but I've found it to be quite adequate. Also when driven carefully I usually find I can eek out a bit more when I need to. I've never run out of juice in 15,500 miles and 15 months of use. For the first 6 months I ran with nothing but the 120v 19hr charger - which is still included. I'd get home at 5pm and plug in and most mornings leave fully charged. At that time I had a 26 mile work commute.
So if your family is looking for that second commuter car. A roomy fast electric could be perfect - consider in Maryland:
28800+850 dest+350 tags+title-dealer = $30k to take home + NO MD TAX.
Now if you pay at least $7500 a year in federal tax $30,000 - $7,500 fed electric rebate = $22,500.
Now $22,500 is not too shabby for a family commuter that will cost you $30-$40 a month in electric and nothing in gas.
My 2012 plan is for a car that is paid off in 5 years and then get battery upgrades at 5 year intervals if needed for about 6k. At that point we're talking $100 a month for battery maintenance with the hope then battery tech continues to improve and no car payments as this vehicle will have a very long life. Even with tires and brakes my yearly TCO will be unbelievable - imagine yours with a $22.5K car.
Plus the new liftback room is improved - mine had a hump - now 2013 it's open with fold down seats:
The interior is very roomy and comfy as evidenced by Kevin my 6 six foot son:
The 'S' is big step towards a family electric with no compromise with a great TCO. Dropping the MSRP to $28800 is a fantastic move.
Now to be real, with all the improvements in electrics there is a second way. I've heard of lease deals for the 2013 SL ( top shiney model ) for 24 month lease at 3k down and $260 a month. Given depreciation on E/Vs is heavy, if you are not planning on keeping it for a long time leasing is the way to go. Even with the down pay the gas saving will make this a good deal. Just remember the cheapest leases are 12000 mile per year and that isn't much. Check the mileage allowance carefully.
As I said though - I'm jazzed - these 2013 models answer the question of cost. This battle will continue to be down and dirty - big oil and their many mouthpieces are awake and dragging any threat though the mud. Nissan isn't asleep though - they have pushed 'all in'. The Leaf has sold 50,000 world wide at the higher price point. Now Smyna TN is churning out batteries and Leaf cars made in America at ever lower prices.
Now if by 2015 they come up with range so I can look at electrics as a primary or 'only' vehicle at a price point that the average American can purchase. Like a Tesla for the common guy or gal looking for a car they can feel good about.