Talk me out of a Leaf

Talk me out of a Leaf

Hi folks,

I'm due to take a multi day test drive in a 2017 Leaf this weekend (despite having a reservation down for a Model 3, and being pretty much set on that as my next car). The reason, of course, is the arguably pretty competitive pricing on some of the brand new and barely used models (brand new in the region of £10,000 off list price, and barely used around £15,000 off list price).

I should clarify off the starting line that the Model 3 takes the crown in terms of personal preference. The Leaf is only really something I'd consider on the basis of a significant saving, and with the caveat that it would have to be sufficient for my regular use case.

In terms of timing, either way, the purchase would be around the start of 2019 (which lines up with the current projected Model 3 release in the UK).

In terms of regular use, my commute is <15 miles each way (typically driven twice daily for 60 miles total). At the weekends we tend to drive upwards of 80 miles in each direction, and it would be good to have room on top for a grocery run if needed. There is only one rapid charger currently active between our start point and the usual areas we head to, which I'm expecting would mean a stop on each leg of the journey. A base mileage Model 3 should be able to cover the route without a stop-off. Also worth noting that I understand the Leaf to be much worse at dealing with variable temperatures, and battery lifetime issues.

Looking at the finances, a base mileage Model 3, with the PUP seems to come out around £35000 - 36000 after incentives and tax on the teslanomics page. A 2017 leaf is working out around £20,000 - 25000. after incentives, tax and dealer contributions etc.

I currently spend around £2500 a year on fuel, so would expect to achieve savings just shy of £15,000 over the 6 year horizon I'd expect the vehicle to last.

Depreciation seems to be the killer on a Leaf, and i'd only expect that to worsen with the move to 200+ mile range EVs in the next 12-18 months. I'd expect the Model 3 as a newer, 200+ mile range vehicle to hold value considerably better. This ought to make the Model 3 a more flexible option down the line, as opposed to a virtually zero value Leaf after a few years.

Whilst some will probably look at this and see an opportunity to move a spot up the line, I'd be interested to know what other arguments people would use to talk someone into sticking with a model 3 over a 2017 Leaf?


andy.connor.e | 29 november 2017

Model 3 has over-the-air software updates. Being that Model 3's entire vehicle interface is the touchscreen, the software essentially controls the entire car. So you can expect that Model 3 will improve over time.

Last time i checked, nissan does not have a international supercharger network for long-distance traveling capabilities. Your nissan is not going to be able to travel farther than its range very easily. Unless you dont mind spending 4-5 hours at a charging station every 150 miles.

Length of ownership. Model 3 has the capability of one day (hopefully) being able to activate self-driving. The fact that you have that capability means it holds its relevance in your life for a long period of time. You may feel the car holds its value to YOU in your life rather than a $ sign value. It wont feel like last years cell phone compared to what comes out today.

As far as resale value, it all depends what the cars capabilities are. If one car can give a buyer the ability to do long-distance travel, thats the preferred vehicle. Has much more value to a wider variety of buyers. It will have a higher resale value, but the car cost is higher initially. I would not necessarily focus on this being the "deal breaker".

As you've noted, nissan is not great with weather variation and battery lifetime. So i suppose it depends how long you plan on owning it. If you only want it for <3 years, then i guess it really isnt a big difference. But for >5 years, Model 3 hands down.

mntlvr23 | 29 november 2017

If the Leaf suits your needs, and that is what you ultimately choose - at least also consider a used Leaf. When I shopped them a while back, you could find them for ~65% off after a couple of years. Let someone else take the huge depreciation hit.

andy.connor.e | 29 november 2017

+1 mntlvr23

I always advise people, that if you intend to re-sell the vehicle after a few years, dont bother buying brand new. Just buy used. Brand new is never worth its initial cost if considering resale value.

dyefrog | 29 november 2017

It doesn't sound like you have the ability to charge at your destination and your interim charging spot is undependable being a single charger. Knowing that, you'd be adding a lot of inconvenience to your life with a less than 200 mile EV. If you can't get the Ampera, I would wait on the model 3. The Leaf is the wrong tool for the job in your case.

stockbandit91 | 29 november 2017

My friend bought a low mileage used leaf and the battery/electrical system went haywire 10 days into his ownership, ending his electric car ownership likely for a long period of time unfortunately.

carlk | 29 november 2017

Why we should talk you out out it? Just go buy the Leaf if it suits your needs. It's not that a bad car. Nissan should also be rewarded for being one of the first to come out with a (relatively) serious EV.

phil | 29 november 2017

"The Leaf is the wrong tool for the job in your case."

It sounds like keeping this thing charged would be a constant problem for you. Life is too short to waste it on charging an electric car. They make cheap gas cars (petrol?). That's what you need.

andy.connor.e | 29 november 2017

At least nissan didnt crush all their cars.

carlk | 29 november 2017

A coworkers got a new Leaf when his old lease expired a few months ago. He still has a 3 reservation and still intend to get it when his number is up. His will be becoming an all EV family.

LA-Fohlen | 29 november 2017

For me it is hard to say. Given the time frame of 2019 even Nissan might have different offerings but at the same time you may not get the £10k or £15k (is that for the new model?) depending on which Leaf you would choose. Then there is also the battery management which concerns me with the Leaf. That would definitely speak for the Model 3.

A used Leaf might be an option but depending on the battery degradation it might not be an option especially for your weekend trips.

I would wait and when it gets closer to 2019 you can evaluate the options and then choose.

andysmithsone | 29 november 2017

@andy.connor.e - Thanks! In the UK, the Leaf is compatible with Chademo rapid chargers, which can charge to 80% in 30 mins (i.e. matching up the the Superchargers in recharge time). That said (i) they aren't as widespread, (ii) they seem to be frequently out of action, and (iii) the costs vary from charger to charger (Shell recently started installing at thier gas stations, with costs up to 49p (~75c) per kWh). Ultimately, it's probably possible to do the weekend trips I mentioned in a 30kw Leaf, but certainly not without stopping off at at least one of these rapid chargers.

@mntlvr23 - agreed, if I were to go for a leaf, it would be one of the used 2017 models at the minute. They are currently sitting around £18,000 in the UK for the Tekna trim, which seems like a pretty massive discount given mileage is usually under 5000ish. The ownership period is ideally around 6 years or so (my last cars have been owned until they died), so depreciation may not be such an issue, but it will at least offer flexibility.

@dyefrog/Phil - Thanks! The recharging game is a large part of my thinking here. We havea 1 car drive, and two cars, so by going for something with a need for frequent charging, I'd be de facto taking over use of the drive in addition to building in stress on longer drives.

@carlk - Fair point. I'm really just looking for anything I haven't thought about that would pull me down off the fence. The point I made a few lines up sort of stands here. I could probably get by with a Leaf (and some stress from time to time), but I don't think the cost saving is likely to be worth the hassle. Completely agree that they should be lauded for being first - they have a huge market share in the UK at least among EVs, partly because they make the Gen 2 here.

@LA-Fohlen - That's a fair comment, it's hard to know at this point. I think at the £35,000 range, the Model 3 pips the new Leaf for me, but who knows what the other firms will launch by then. Personally, I'm looking at it less as a fancy £35,000 new car, and more as a fiscally responsible £15,000 (after savings) car which happens to also be awesome.

The £10,000 discount I mentioned is on the brand new 2017 Leaf. A nearly new 2017 model can be had around £18,000 (plus dealer fees & tax) here, which definitely seems to be priced low.

andysmithsone | 29 november 2017

(to clarify my last comment, in the UK, EVs get a £4500 grant at purchase, and I'm adding that to circa £15,000 fuel savings for a slightly tongue in cheek ~£20,000 total saving against the initial outlay).

andy.connor.e | 29 november 2017

Think 5 years of ownership. If you feel like you're not going to love it for 5 years, consider waiting.

LA-Fohlen | 29 november 2017

@andy +1

Again, waiting until 2019 gives you more choices or at least better ideas of where the market is going. For the Tesla Model 3 you know what you get. The Nissan Leaf will have the 2018 model established and might offer a longer distance model and you will be able to compare prices. Renault, VW, Hyundai may be interesting and may make the choice more difficult or not.

Yodrak. | 29 november 2017

Regular rapid charging (Chademo) will significantly degrade a Leaf battery over time as compared to Level 1 or Level 2 charging. I stick to Level 2, and only charge to 80% most of the time.

Yodrak. | 29 november 2017

Otherwise, the Leaf is a great car. I like it and will be keeping mine when I get my Model 3.

andy.connor.e | 29 november 2017

Whats the difference between Level 1/2 and Chademo? As far as why battery degradation is more

Yodrak. | 29 november 2017

Heat. The Leaf has no battery temperature control, except to prevent it from freezing.

bedoig | 29 november 2017

The new 30kWh Leaf's are appearing to have even worse degradation than the previous 24kWh batteries. I'm down ~30% in capacity in one year, 18k miles on my '16 30kWh. Granted I live in Texas and DC charge pretty frequently, but I did that in my 2013 as well and "only" lost about 30% capacity on that car after three years, 45k miles. For my use cases I'd never consider buying one of these cars outright, but I also get pretty good incentives that at least partially justify my decision to lease.

Yodrak. | 29 november 2017

"I live in Texas and DC charge pretty frequently, but I did that in my 2013 as well and "only" lost about 30% capacity on that car after three years, 45k miles."

I bought a used 2013 Leaf 2-1/2 years ago. It came from Dallas, had 15,000 miles on it, and had been quick-charged 10 times. The car lost its first bar (15% capacity loss) at 20,000 miles. I've done only 1, brief, quick charge since I've owned it. I'm about to hit 45,000 miles and I'm at 20% capacity loss so I expect to lose the second bar at any time.

Only a sample size of two, but it does support the idea that more quick-charging leads to faster battery degradation when there's no battery temperature management.

bedoig | 29 november 2017

Ya, I think the new packs are probably cramming even more cells into a similar space and further decreasing the ability to passively shed heat. Another interesting thing is that Nissan appears to have altered the percentages that trigger loss of capacity bars on the dash. I was down 25% before I lost my first bar. I think they're playing games to be able to quote a longer battery warranty on paper while not increasing the warranty in substance. I'll be happy to ditch Nissan when I can get my hands on a Model 3. For the price and convenience the Leaf does make a pretty decent commuter car though.

Yodrak. | 29 november 2017

"For the price and convenience the Leaf does make a pretty decent commuter car "

Yes indeed. I paid only $13,000 for mine, an SL that was ~$39,000 (if I remember correctly) new. Huge depreciation, great when buying used. The only maintenance cost I've had in 2-1/2 years was the $200 co-pay to upgrade the cellular capability.

andy.connor.e | 29 november 2017

"Only" losing even as little as 5% per year is absurd. If i was told my gasoline car's fuel efficiency would drop 5% every year i owned the car, i'd shove that [BOLSHEVIK]™ right up his ASSedonia.


RedPillSucks | 29 november 2017

Well, they might not tell you but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
I don't have the percentages, but pretty much every car I've owned started out near the EPA mpg estimates and have gone down in efficiency year after year. My Toyota Camry Hybrid started with 40mpg new in 2013. It now gets 35mpg in 2017. That's about a 12% drop in 4 years (3% per year).

ReD eXiLe ms us | 29 november 2017

Uhm... Don't do it!

cornellio | 29 november 2017

Both cars are EVs so either one is a good choice. Obviously Tesla wins on style, looks, and performance. I'd go with that if you can afford it.

I have the 2016 Leaf and in 2 years it's been fine. I have no battery loss and use fast chargers a lot. I've done road trips and made it 90 miles per charge at highway speeds with some hills, but often have to stop for charges along the way. Where I live (SF bay area), there are actually more Nissan DC fast chargers than Tesla super chargers so have had no problem charging in the region.

noleaf4me | 29 november 2017

I currently have a Leaf and I am getting a Model 3 -- no question....the Leaf has limits -- not so many with the Tesla.

tonymil | 29 november 2017

I've debated this as well. Charging is the biggest factor for me. Less frequent and quicker charging is a big plus. And now I've learned about the Leaf's battery degradation which surprises me. My 2012 i-Miev has a 2013 battery (the first one failed) and has 43,000 miles on it and all 16 cells still function. Hardly any loss of range. Nissan recently acquired Mitsubishi. I hope they learn something from them.

Shock | 29 november 2017

Test driving a Leaf now but not buying either car until 2019, I think you are wasting your own time even worrying about it enough to test drive and also the time of whoever is letting you use the car. Lots can change in 18 months.

andy.connor.e | 30 november 2017

My car is rated 25/35 (city/hwy), and when i calculate the amount of miles i've driven, and the amount of gallons i fill at the end of a long trip, its always above 40mpg.

andy.connor.e | 30 november 2017

Sorry i posted too fast. And that car im driving will be 9 years old this January.

mos6507 | 30 november 2017

"At least nissan didnt crush all their cars."

It's long past time for EV nuts to let go of their EV-1 grief. The thing was a 2-seater weirdmobile and didn't even ever have a lithium pack, instead topping off at the then "magical" NiMh which CobaSys, in their mustache-twirling ways, BURIED (muahahahaha). The world has long moved on.

andy.connor.e | 30 november 2017

GM had their chance. And instead of improving it, they destroyed it. They dont get another chance in my book.

"didnt even ever have a lithium pack"
You realize this car was made in 1996-1999 right? Price per kwh has dropped 80% in the last 6 years. Maybe they werent lithium because it was too expensive back then. You're literally like just not even thinking, you just say whatever you can say because you can say it.

chris.pribe | 30 november 2017

When I have a difficult decision between two options, I often ‘consult my gut’ after I've done all my homework. I close my eyes and imagine myself having made the decision one way and see how I feel. Then, I imagine myself having made the decision the other way and see how I feel.

I imagine opening the door to my garage when I have a Model 3 in there and feeling a little “Yes!” — every single time.

I imagine there would be a bit of a let down opening the door and seeing a Leaf, if a Model 3 was the other option. Of course, it would not be nearly so much of a let down as seeing a combustion car sitting there.

ReD eXiLe ms us | 1 december 2017

Well, GM might have a 'chance'... They just won't take it. A long range fully electric CRUZE, MALIBU, CAMARO, or CORVETTE would be nice... A long range fully electric ELECTRA or RIVIERA would be nice... A long range fully electric ATS Coupe, sans the VOLT drivetrain and $40,000 premium would be nice...

SamO | 1 december 2017

You should buy a leaf. They are much better than anything on the road. You will not be disappointed by all the free charging available. The abundance of high-speed charging provided by Nissan and the overwhelming support for your EV choice.
Just kidding. The Leaf is a satchel of banana hammocks. Friends don't let friends die in microcars.

Bri | 1 december 2017

In the UK you don’t need to worry about heat degradation, unless you do a lot of level 3 charging. We’re in Western Washington State USA with a similar climate to yours and our daily commute is 25 miles one way, mostly freeway often with a few miles on top of that for errands. 2014 Leaf bought new with over 45,000 miles now and 5-10% battery degradation. We almost never quick charge, our home charging is 220v 15a. In cold weather we can make the 50 mile round trip without charging but no extra miles. I’d echo other responses here - if you get a Leaf get a cheap used one and if it doesn’t work for you, you can sell it for what you paid. And keep your model 3 reservation.

Carl Thompson | 1 december 2017

Yeah, no chance I'd buy a new Leaf because of the beyond terrible battery degradation. Hopefully Nissan has addressed that with new Leaf (2018+).

dyefrog | 1 december 2017

Another Leaf owner piling on. 2013 bought used with 50+k now. Lost 2 bars so maybe 20% which is 60 miles at best, closer to 50 real life. Starting to become a hassle but it's been the most trouble free car I've ever had. Slightly spry and fun to throw around but anything other than dry roads, lot's of front wheel spin. Manageable but can be a PITA. It's been a northern car it's entire life with the lizard battery so degradation is on the lower side of normal. Is really just an about town runabout which will be handed down to one of the kids once the Model 3 arrives. Paid $7k +TTL so it was a great value but know that they have limitations. Not a fair comp to the 2018 but 140 miles could be 100 miles in 4 years based on Nissans history.