The days of finding a brand-new car for less than five figures appear to be over.
Officially, the cheapest new car sold in the U.S. is the 2015 Nissan Versa sedan, which now starts at $12,800, including destination.
But what if you could get a brand new car--with an electric powertrain to boot--for an effective price of less than $10,000 after all incentives?
As Yahoo Autos! columnist Steven Lang notes in a humorous blog post, it's technically possible to buy a 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric minicar for less than $10,000--but only for a very, very small segment of the population.
Let's start with the base price. Before any Federal, state, or local incentives are applied, the i-MiEV starts at $22,995--which is actually a $6,130 price cut over the 2013 model.
2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
From there, we can net out the $7,500 Federal tax credit that all new electric cars sold in the U.S. qualify for, though only if the buyer is also eligible.
Electric-car buyers need to declare $46,300 in taxable income for individuals ($56,000 for married couples filing taxes jointly) to get the full amount (and that can take up to 15 months after purchase, depending on when the buyer files his or her taxes).
California also offers a $2,500 electric incentive that, combined with the full Federal tax credit, brings the price down to $12,995.
That's close, but doesn't get us under the magic $10,000 limit.
Georgia, on the other hand, offers a $5,000 tax credit, which brings the base price of an i-MiEV down to $10,495 with the Federal credit, but no other local incentives.
Lang then uses the average transaction price for the Mitsubishi plug-in--$21,450--to come up with a real-world figure of $8,950.
However, once dealer fees and taxes are factored in, the price rises back above the $10,000 mark.
But there is one group of people that don't have to worry about those costs: the car dealers themselves.
Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]
Hypothetically, a Georgia dealer could order and pay for a 2014 i-MiEV, then simply drive it without ever selling it--thereby getting the best deal of all.
Ironically, those hypothetical Georgia dealers could get that best-of-all-possible deals at the same time they are trying to block sales of another electric car, the Tesla Model S.
The luxury electric Model logs sales that dwarf those of the i-MiEV (less than 2,000 over four years) despite the Tesla costing vastly more.
Georgia dealers are among those fighting Tesla Motors' company-owned stores, which bypass franchised dealerships.
Tesla currently sells cars in Georgia only because of a special exemption made to the state's franchise laws, but its sales are capped at 150 cars per year.
Consequently, we doubt that we'll see any Georgia Mitsubishi dealers taking advantage of that four-figure price tag--as appealing as it may be.