2012 Nissan Leaf Gets Even Cheaper: Now, $139/Month Lease

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Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Hall in an ad for the 2012 Nissan Leaf

Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Hall in an ad for the 2012 Nissan Leaf

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Plug-in electric car sales are growing in the U.S., with the Chevy Volt in particular going from strength to strength.

The 2012 Nissan Leaf, however, is not doing so well. Despite being one of the earliest electric cars on the market, it's been outsold three to two this year by the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

What is it that carmakers do to boost sales? Why, offer incentives, of course!

Which is how it comes to pass that you can lease a brand-new Nissan Leaf SL battery-electric car for a mere $139 a month with $2,995 down.

The lower-than-ever lease deal is available from Boardwalk Nissan in Redwood City, California, and potentially a number of other dealers as well.

The 24-month lease allows 1,000 miles per month--12,000 a year--and is offered through October 31.

It's worth noting that the deal applies not to the bare-bones Leaf SV model, but the higher trim level SL, which represents the bulk of Leaf deliveries and includes a standard quick-charging port.

With a recent article in the Los Angeles Times concluding that a Nissan Leaf pays back its higher purchase cost over six years if gasoline hits $5 a gallon, the new deal will undoubtedly reinforce the inexpensive nature of driving on electricity drawn from the grid.

It's worth noting, though, that all such electric-car leases are based on the $7,500 Federal tax credit for purchase of a plug-in car goes to the financial institution that holds the lease, not to the person who leases the car.

In California, however, a 24-month lease does not qualify for the full $2,500 state purchase rebate--which stays with the lessee, not the issuer of the lease, but requires the lessee or owner to keep the car for 36 months.

In California, however, the state's $2,500 purchase rebate remains with the lessee, not the issuer of the lease.

Reader and electric-car fan Brian Henderson contacted the dealership and spoke to Melina Hristova, a Leaf specialist and Internet sales manager.

She confirmed the deal, and explained that in addition to the $2,995 down payment, the "drive-off fees" (including paperwork, registration, and the first month's payment) amounted to $1,200.

Hristova said that Boardwalk Nissan has "sold more Leafs than anyone else," a claim that couldn't immediately be confirmed.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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Comments (31)
  1. Wow, that's virtually free when you consider the gas savings.

    Assume that a similar size gas-powered car would get about 30 mpg. Over a 1,000-mile month, that's 33 gallons of gas. Gas in California is about $4.50 these days, so that works out to $148.50 per month savings. If you charge the car at night, electricity cost for the month will be about $12.50. Net savings: $136.50.

    Net cost of leasing a brand new Leaf: $2.50 a month.

    As for the down payment, the $2500 state tax credit reduces the down payment to $495.

    $495 down, $2.50 a month. I'll bet they sell a few.

  2. @1,000 miles per month, that is at least 300 KWh of electricity if it is all charged at home.

    In CA where PG&E service its customer, THERE IS ONLY SCAM DISCOUNT on the EV charging rate. 300 KWh additional E usage will bump ANY PG&E customer into at least tier-2 to tier-3 range. That will increase their "regular" electricy use to the $0.24 or $0.33 per KWh rate. So, the average rate is still going to be in the $0.15-$0.20/KWh range. But if you are already a LARGE E users (without solar), it will bump you into Tier-4/5 range and you will be paying average $0.30 per KWh for all your Electricity.

    In that case, your monthly E cost will go up by $100. Still cheaper than gas. But you are NOT driving it for $2.50/month.

  3. Did you set up Schedule E-9 with PGE? That would make off-peak electricity virtually free (several pennies per kWh) at the expense of very high peak rate ($0.30/kWh), but overall, it should only cost you an extra of $30-50 per month.

    Tiered pricing is not uncommon and it makes sense without EV. At least one home owner I know offset such cost via SolarCity's lease program (some down payment with no monthly fee).

  4. Did you do the math on E-9? Or you must missed my calculations with E-9 plan on the how the PG&E scam its customer.

    You are right, it will ONLY make sense if you do PPA plan with Solar City or Sungevity.

    But E-9A and E-9B are both scam. E-9B cost few thousands extra to install seperate meter.

    E-9A give you lower price after Midnight. But its 2pm-9pm usage is PEAK and it will charge you $0.50 per KWh, more than offset your off peak charging.

    Which NORMAL household does NOT use power during 2pm-9pm period?

  5. Okay, I just got my first bill under E-9, which costs $30 more for 300 kWh extra usage. Not bad at all :)

    Yes, I am paying a "marginal" rate of $0.50/kWh at peak and $0.30/kWh partial-peak. But this means if I switch to LED from incandescent, which is almost always used during peak and off-peak, it can pay off in 1-1.5 years.

  6. Let me show you some of my calculation.

    Under E-9A, your off peak rate will be as low as $0.09/KWh. But that is between midnight to 7Am.

    Now. Let us say you use about 500 KWh per month before EV (normal for a typical family with kids and 2,000 sq ft house).

    Adding 300 KWh additional usages will push you WELL into tier 3/4. So, any usage in those tiers will be charged $0.50/KWh.

    Sure, your EV will be charged at $0.09/KWh in the first half of the month (at later tier, it goes up to $0.24/KWh). But your day to day household usage (between 2pm-9pm) will be charged at $0.50/KWh in the second half of the month. Overall, your cost is NOT lower much.

    The best way is to get on E-6 and install solar.

  7. The Leaf deals are ALL on leasing, so they will lease LOTS, I'm sure they're hoping. One may be to me, esp. if costs keep dropping almost daily. Thx for your cost analysis--love to see those low numbers for actual costs!

  8. You must have a 36 month lease to qualify for $2500 rebate in Califonia. This article mentions 24 month.

  9. @JP: Thanks for the correction. That was my error (meant to check it, got distracted), and I've updated the piece to reflect the correct info. Much appreciated.

  10. Well, Nissan is "doubling down" on Leaf.

    The low price Lease worked well for Leaf last month (increased sales), so Nissan is willing to try again.

    Now, I wonder how many "Reuter" writers are out there "punching the numbers" so they can calculate how much money that Nissan is losing on every Leaf sold so far...

    How come it is so silent from the so called "Truth Agence", aka Fox News?

  11. Thanks John. This is the kind of article I like to see here. Good research, analysis, and reporting. Smoking deal on the remaining 2012 Leafs. However, you are incorrect in your statement of the SV trim being "bare bones." Yes, it is the lower trim among the two..for this year...but the SV includes LED headlights, navigation system, and bluetooth to name a few features. Is that "bare bones?"

  12. I actually saw a slightly cheaper version at Performance Nissan in Duarte - 24 mo., 12k miles per year for $90 a month. The catch is it's now $4000 down (but that still works out to $172 less over the length of the lease). And 4000 - 2500 is still reasonable for money down. Plus, the Sales Manager claims SoCal PG&E is offering discounted Level 2 chargers.

  13. The CVRP $2500 rebate is only available for owners and/or leases that are at least 36 months in length. Per the CVRP website http://energycenter.org/index.php/incentive-programs/clean-vehicle-rebate-project/frequently-asked-questions-cvrp: - Applicant must retain ownership of the rebated vehicle for a minimum of 36 consecutive months immediately after the vehicle purchase or lease date. Rebate recipients who do not retain the eligible vehicle for the full 36-month ownership or lease period will be required to reimburse ARB all or part of the original rebate amount.

  14. Very good point. But it does qualify for the white HOV sticker.

  15. Well, it is getting closer to an really good price for this car! Based on all the costs, that averages out to $308 per month of $0.308 per mile up to 12,000 which is covered. Thus, you have the use of a BRAND NEW CAR for extremely cheap. My gas minivan gets me around at $0.21 per mile. So for about $0.10 per mile, I get a brand new car to drive around. Any NJ dealers following suit?

  16. Please show your work

  17. Hey John, What does "TK" represent in this para? Looks like it should be a number?

    With a recent article in the Los Angeles Times concluding that a Nissan Leaf pays back its higher purchase cost over TK years if gasoline hits $5 a gallon, the new deal will undoubtedly reinforce the inexpensive nature of driving on electricity drawn from the grid.

  18. @Erik: Yep, "TK" is editor-speak for "fact to be inserted here," and my final edit of this piece from yesterday apparently got lost somewhere in the vastness of the Intertubez. Sorry 'bout that!

    I've fixed it now, complete with link.

  19. Personally, I would recommend leasing the Leaf over buying it right now, especially since we don't know for sure what kind of "redesign" are in place for the future Leaf.

    It is sort like "hedging" your bet...

  20. For many of us, a lease is a better option even if we plan to buy the car at the end of the lease. First off, I come no where near able to claim a $7500 tax credit and since it does not carry forward, I would lose much of it. By leasing, they get it and it lowers the residual price to me. It lowers my risk should I change my mind and finally, it saves me money as I go along so I can save up and have a smaller amount to finance at the time I convert the lease to a purchase.

    I tried contacting our local Nissan dealer and asking what lease terms they have on the Leaf, but regrettably, they chose not to respond to the question. Sad.

  21. Good points Mark. Get on the Nissan website and you should be able to email your questions to at least 3 of your local dealers after you have "built" your Leaf on that website. Big push by Nissan n their dealers right now to get these 2012 Leaf models off the lots so they can build expectations/drama for the usa built 2013 refreshed n slightly better 203 Leaf.

    However, for many of us these current short term Leaf lease deals are too good to pass up on getting an EV in our garages this month.

  22. No surprise at the lack of response to your question. In my opinion, it would be handy if more dealers supported and promoted the product instead of discouraging people from buying/leasing it. I was confronted with lack of enthusiasm when I walked into a Nissan dealer and when I went into a Mitsubishi dealer to ask about the i-MiEV, he had no idea what I was on about so he had to go into his office and read the details from a folder. I doubt he even knew what the car looked like.

    In my opinion, this lack of enthusiasm is what is causing lack of sales. It might help sales if the dealer mentioned that the Leaf interior is comparable to a Cadillac or Mercedes-Benz as I discovered when I drove someone else's Leaf

  23. 24 month leases do not qualify for the $2500 gift from CA

  24. Good catch to those who are pointing out these leases wouldn't qualify for the CA rebate; when I called the dealer in Duarte (see above) to check on the even cheaper lease, I asked the sales manager there specifically about that rebate and she said lessees would qualify. Good to know the dealers are either misinformed or just lying to move cars. Which is more likely?

  25. Brendan Dolan from Boardwalk Nissan here. Seems there was an error quoted on the drive off fees. Total due at signing in San Mateo County is $4,628, with $1,633 of that being drive off fees. $2,995 is cap cost reduction, commonly referred to as "down payment." Drive off fees vary by county (tax rate), so that's why they are itemized in the disclaimer.

    If anyone has any questions, I can be reached at bdolan@bwalkauto.com

  26. Brendan, thanks for explaning this.

  27. $4,200 total down....hmmm... more like $200 per month which is still decent...


  28. Last month I leased a "deluxe" model in Portland,OR for $116 per month with $2800 down including license and fees with 24 month 12,000 miles per year conditions. When you count the gas savings (25MPG car) over 12K miles at about $4 per gallon, the net cost of driving the car is about $110 per month including amortizing the down payment. Crazy inexpensive if it fits your driving patterns. It does however, create two types of anxiety, lease mileage anxiety (1000 miles a month is only 33 miles a day) as well as range anxiety. But looking at the bright side, if you have limited electric range (70 miles) it will be more difficult to exceed your lease miles! About all you can do is drive to and from an office with a stop at the grocery store.

  29. Don, what dealership? (I'm in Salem)

  30. Don't lease a Leaf, BUY IT!

  31. This could also use a value of time analysis. I'm not from CA, but I understand that your traffic sucks up people's time and that EV qualify for single-driver HOV/car pool lane access. Forget saving money on gas, saving time in traffic is PRICELESS. Factor in the value of your time saved, and EV really make sense.

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