With Nissan’s recent announcement that its 2013 Leaf electric vehicle base model is starting at $28,800 (down from $35,200), the topic of more affordable EVs is being discussed. With the federal tax incentive and state rebates, the car is selling in California under $19,000. As to how this was achieved, there’s speculation that it has to do with moving production from Japan to Smyrna, Tenn., reducing trim and features, reaching higher production volume and economies of scale, continued battery cost reductions, and even some analysis that it could just be a loss leader for Nissan.
It’s possible that EVs will be taken a lot more seriously once this pricing information is widely spread. It’s likely to bring cost reductions to other EVs on the market. Chevrolet says that it will soon be cutting “thousands of dollars” from the prices of its Volt plug-in hybrid car.
The Leaf has seen slight extensions of its mileage range per charge since being launched, and consumers are learning that at its present level, the Leaf more than meets their daily driving needs. With the price reduction, the Leaf is expected to become more viable for two-car families. The Leaf is reaching a three-year payback period with the price reduction and performance improvements. Drivers are getting used to making the most of their EV driving habits, and when it’s the best time to charge the car.
One Leaf driver is getting about $0.07 per kilowatt to charge the car, which is only abut two-thirds of the national electric price average. He estimates it costs him just over $0.02 per mile to drive the Leaf. He’s saving about $300 a month on gasoline, which more than offsets the monthly car payment.