The old saying goes that when you buy a used car, you're buying somebody else's problems. And when it comes to electric vehicles, you're also not getting the benefit of any purchase tax breaks. Maybe you should just lease a new one.
That's the conclusion of a new article in Wired, which compares leasing a new Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle to buying a two-year-old version with about 33,000 miles on it. Turns out, leasing comes out way ahead. A $2,400 down payment will procure a 36-month lease at $199 a month. Meanwhile, a two-year-old Leaf with a $15,000 Kelley Blue Book value will cost more than $300 a month to finance. Much of the reason for the lower lease rate is that the $7,500 federal tax credit is baked into the lease terms, whereas a second-hand EV doesn't provide that benefit.
Maybe that helps explain why more new Leafs are going out of the showroom doors than ever. Through July, US Leaf sales had surged 35 percent from a year earlier to 15,755 units. Last month alone, Leaf sales jumped 62 percent to 3,019 vehicles.
Soon, Wired's numbers will get to be put to the test in a big way, as lots of 2011 Nissan Leaf EVs and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids finish up their initial three-year lease terms and hitting the used-car market. We'll see how those Blue Book values hold up then.