The revolution in electric cars, in particular the brilliant models coming from Tesla, is a fascinating development for car enthusiasts. At the same time, most of us fairly despise small economy cars. So recently when I rode in a friend's Nissan Leaf I was pleasantly surprised. The interior was much nicer than its parent the Nissan Versa and it suffered from no shortage of get-up-and-go, easily keeping pace with interstate traffic. Wall Street Journal auto writer Dan Neil gushed over the car in this 2010 video.
What's he point of this little tale? Well, my car friend Chris recently noticed that off-lease Leafs (Leaves?) are a real bargain. Carmax lists dozens of them, ranging in price from $9,998 to 13,998. Those prices represent serious depreciation for a two or three year old car that originally listed for over $30,000! And as these were generally locally driven, range-limited leases, some have very low miles,
And that's not all. Carmax is offering their Maxcare warranty on these cars at a very low rate, some under $1,200 for five years of coverage out to 75,000 miles. And as Jalopnik's Doug DeMuro has proven, Maxcare works.
So to review, for under $15,000 you can buy a solid, low-miles electric car fully warrantied for years.
One last interesting question... Just how much is Nissan losing on their Leaf experiment? They offered lease rates as low as $199/month with low initial buy in. The full cost of a Leaf two lease year lease could have been as little as $7,000. And now Nissan is wholesaling these cars for around $10,000, and the market is flooded. Those are the kind of numbers you would expect for a sub-$20,000 car, not one that listed for over $30,000, representing tremendous R&D costs.
It's all a bit of a puzzle, and interesting from a auto enthusiast point of view. But if you ever wanted an electric car, here's your chance. Dirt cheap.