Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Haters be hatin' on my cheap new electric car

They say "never read the comments," but what fun is that?

I recently bought a new Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car-- even though we set out to buy a used gas car.
Me, having a sad, after realizing the trolls are right.

I managed to get the new electric car for an effective pre-tax price of $9,474.

That sounded a lot better than the used 2015 gas cars I was finding with 30,000+ miles on them for $10,000-$13,000.

As I explained in the story I wrote for 9NEWS, we ended up with the new electric car instead because several incentives made it cheaper: we got a $10,000 discount for Xcel energy customers (only applies to the Leaf,) a $7,500 federal EV tax credit that we won't see until we file next year's return, and a $5,000 state of Colorado EV tax credit that dealers can now apply to the purchase price.

A new Nissan Leaf.
The story contained an entire section on reasons not to buy this car-- essentially that it's not practical for severe weather or road trips. This will be a commuter / around-town car for my family. Our 4-door Jeep Wrangler will serve as our mountain / snow / road trip car.

But that didn't stop haters from hatin'-- on everything from the incentives to the car itself.

I take these concerns seriously, so let's have at a few!

Joel: "Cool have your neighbors pay for your car through their taxes, yep that's so cool NOT buy your own stuff with your own money"

This is my favorite comment because I like to imagine that Joel is an intellectually honest person, who would no doubt have conversations like:

FRIEND 1: "We just had a baby!"
JOEL: "Great. I hope you don't take the child tax credit next year."
FRIEND 1: "Umm, we're really excited..."
JOEL: "Your neighbors shouldn't have to pay for your kids!"


FRIEND 2: "We just bought a new house!"
JOEL: "Did you take out a mortgage?"
FRIEND 2: "Uh... yeah."
JOEL: "Thief! You better not claim the mortgage interest deduction!"

I sincerely hope that Joel has never had a mortgage, child, or student loan-- because that would be awkward.

In all seriousness, the biggest single incentive that applied to my car was a $10,000 credit from the private sector.

I hear the argument about the state and federal tax credits, though. If Joel doesn't like them, he can use my handy guide to lobby his state lawmakers to get rid of it, or call his congresspeople.

Meantime, I live in the current, actual world-- where I want to acquire a vehicle to meet my needs for the least amount of money possible. So I did that.

The credits are available equally to everyone and even if I personally disagreed with tax breaks as sound policy, I'm not going to spend more to buy a used traditional car on principle. I don't think I'm alone on this.

Adam: "A great price, but if you hit a squirrel, you're dead."

I give Adam style points for using a squirrel in his argument. The mental image is hilarious!

Courtesy: the internet.
However, the argument doesn't hold much water. The safety ratings for the 2017 Leaf aren't out yet, but the nearly identical 2016 Leaf got four-star crash ratings in every category. It also earned that rating in 2015, 2014, and 2013.

It's also worth noting that the base model leaf comes standard with front and side-impact airbags.

It's at least 475 pounds heavier than JD Power's three most poplar small cars: the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Nissan Sentra.

That's more than 1.5 tons of squirrel-flattening I can do with my electric car!

Brandon: "That's not a car.. That's an oversized golf cart."

The driver's view in a Leaf.
Hey Brandon. (Great name, BTW!) As mentioned above, the car is heavier than several popular small cars. Kudos for using "oversized" in your argument, but it's actually six times the weight of a Yamaha electric golf cart. Because I'm a dweeb and I looked it up.

Also, in the comparison I ran to other popular small cars, you'll find that the Leaf has more interior space, front and rear head room, and cargo space than the other three.

And as a driver, I'll just add that the striking thing about this vehicle is that it very much feels like any other car to drive.

But if you ever go drive one, let me know if you disagree!

John: "You'd have to pay me 10k to drive an electric car"

Man, you're letting 'em off easy. They had to pay me $22.5k!

John: "Coal fired crap box."

First off, John: in America, virtually the only socially acceptable response to someone else buying a new car is: "congratulations!" But you don't know me, so I guess I don't need to expect you to be polite.

Courtesy: Xcel Energy
Leaving aside the "crap box" bit, in Colorado, it is true that my electric car is partially powered by coal.

Xcel Energy's latest figures (from 2015) show 54 percent of its Colorado electricity comes from coal, 24 percent from natural gas, and 22 percent from carbon-free sources (mostly wind.)

As stated in my story, I didn't buy this car to be an eco-warrior, I bought it because the incentives made it cheaper than a used gas-powered car.

But since you raise the issue, it's also worth noting that right now Xcel is converting the closest coal plant to Denver to natural gas, and building massive wind and solar generation facilities in Colorado because they say it's becoming cheaper to do so even without tax subsidies.


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