Author Topic: Buy electric car now or wait?  (Read 3405 times)

stefnjeff

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Buy electric car now or wait?
« on: June 27, 2018, 03:51:13 PM »
We're debating the merits of buying a used Nissan Leaf now, or waiting for our current car to bite the dust first.  We have a 2006 mazda 3 with 133000 miles.  It doesn't have any significant issues, other than the fact that it's gas powered!  We're trying to decide if we should sell it now while it still has decent value (Kelley Blue Book says it's worth $3900), and replace it with a used Nissan Leaf (bought with cash of course), and start enjoying the cost savings of reduced maintenance and fuel.  I drive 44 miles a day doing school drop offs (sounds awful, I know, but this is unfortunately unchangeable), so we would save a significant amount on gas.  Alternatively, we keep the Mazda until it dies, which I don't expect to happen for many years.  One bonus to this could be that by then the 2018 Leaf with longer battery life will be hitting the used market.

What say you?

clutchy

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2018, 02:44:34 PM »
so I did what you're thinking. 

We have backup cars so I actually didn't get rid of anything but we bought a used BMW i3. 

I commute in it and do the dropoffs in the morning probably 35-40 miles daily. 


My gas bill went from $150/mo to $35/ in Electricity.  Basis was 24mpg premium fuel @ ohio costs ($2.75/gal more or less). 

Basically it's about 1000 miles per month. 


I really like the EV and it feels great not to be adding to the pollution.   On the upside the i3 is spectacularly efficient.  I'm averaging 4.7miles / kWh.  crazy!



Used EV's are a steal and if the daily mileage works it's a no-brainer.  I'm basically just using the car as a mileage mule.  7k miles and counting since October.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2018, 03:41:48 PM »
If you're not sure, then I recommend starting with the math.  Let's assume the Mazda would last 5 more years, and that the Leaf costs $10,000.

Mazda cost over 5 years: 5 * (expected average insurance, registration, fuel, and maintenance) - residual Mazda value.
Leaf cost over 5 years: 5 * (expected average insurance, registration, fuel, and maintenance) + $10,000 - $3,900 - residual Leaf value.

I suspect the Leaf's residual value after 5 years will be a bit below $6,100, let's just say $4,100 for the sake of the example.  Then will your operating costs over 5 years be at least $2,000 less with the Leaf?  It seems likely, though electricity rates vary wildly across the country, and gas prices are unpredictable.  You should be able to pin down registration and insurance costs, and then you can use this year's mileage to estimate the gas and electricity costs.  Don't forget to add a 240v charger in the Leaf cost column if you plan on buying one.

If the difference in cost is sufficiently small in either direction compared with your budget and savings (only you can be the judge of this), just buy the thing and don't overthink it.

FYI we're in a similar situation with a slightly older Mazda.  Ours is in kind of rough shape though, and I'm not even sure we could get $1,000 for it.  For us, that tips the balance in favor of keeping the Mazda until/unless maintenance starts to get too high, or a large repair is needed.  I hope that doesn't happen for a few more years, because by then the available options for used electric vehicles should be better than they are now.

RWD

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2018, 04:27:56 PM »
I'm not sure how I feel about buying a used electric car.
You have no way of knowing how healthy the battery is. And if that looses its capacity or breaks you might as well buy a new car because replacing it will cost an arm and a leg.

You can actually check the health of the battery...
https://flipthefleet.org/2017/nissan-leaf-check-your-battery-before-buying/

clutchy

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2018, 06:55:42 AM »
I'm not sure how I feel about buying a used electric car.
You have no way of knowing how healthy the battery is. And if that looses its capacity or breaks you might as well buy a new car because replacing it will cost an arm and a leg.

also most EV's have really great battery / powertrain warranties.

Car Jack

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2018, 07:08:49 AM »

My gas bill went from $150/mo to $35/ in Electricity.  Basis was 24mpg premium fuel @ ohio costs ($2.75/gal more or less). 


Wow!  What is your cost per kWHr including all the fees?  I live in New England, where we pay some of the highest electric rates in the country.  From time to time, I go onto the Tesla Model S site where they have a savings calculator and always find with my numbers, actual savings that are 1/10th what Tesla uses as defaults.  I'd have to drive to Venus to get back the $100k for a model S.

clutchy

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2018, 08:04:54 AM »

My gas bill went from $150/mo to $35/ in Electricity.  Basis was 24mpg premium fuel @ ohio costs ($2.75/gal more or less). 


Wow!  What is your cost per kWHr including all the fees?  I live in New England, where we pay some of the highest electric rates in the country.  From time to time, I go onto the Tesla Model S site where they have a savings calculator and always find with my numbers, actual savings that are 1/10th what Tesla uses as defaults.  I'd have to drive to Venus to get back the $100k for a model S.
 

We pay about $0.115 / kWh here.  Ohio is deregulated so we can pick our supplier which(for me) includes a cent or half cent premium for 100% wind energy.

it's just a little thing I can do to support additional wind resources being built. 


So just follow me on this because everyone's situation is different.  I was paying avg. $3.00/gal for premium fuel(current) for my bmw 330i.  Avg. was 24mpg.  So my cost per mile was $0.125/mile.  in the BMW i3 I average 4.7miles / kWh.  A kWh costs $0.115 my cost per mile is $0.0244.  SO if I take my cost per mile and move it to an equivalent gallon of gas I'm getting about 123 MPG personally ($3 / $0.0244)

I know that's kinda wonky but those are my personal costs while attempting to convert to a / gallon of gas.


or you can just skip the conversion back and say @ $0.0244 / mi electric vs. $0.125 / mi. on gas.  Basically the EV is about 5 TIMES more efficient.  That's nuts.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2018, 08:07:19 AM by clutchy »

Breck

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2018, 08:28:03 AM »

We pay about $0.115 / kWh here.  Ohio is deregulated so we can pick our supplier which(for me) includes a cent or half cent premium for 100% wind energy.

it's just a little thing I can do to support additional wind resources being built. 


I'm not sure how it works in Ohio, but in Texas buying "100% wind energy" is not exactly what it seems. Just learned about this recently:
http://www.texaspowerguide.com/2017/green-energy-plans-reality/

Summary: The energy company buys Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) from wind energy suppliers to count your power as 100% wind. However, in Texas the market is all messed up and RECs are way to cheap to provide any real boost to further renewable energy development. Most of the premium just goes to the company you are paying for energy.

sol

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2018, 08:57:10 AM »
So just follow me on this because everyone's situation is different.  I was paying avg. $3.00/gal for premium fuel(current) for my bmw 330i.  Avg. was 24mpg.  So my cost per mile was $0.125/mile.  in the BMW i3 I average 4.7miles / kWh.  A kWh costs $0.115 my cost per mile is $0.0244.  SO if I take my cost per mile and move it to an equivalent gallon of gas I'm getting about 123 MPG personally ($3 / $0.0244)

I know that's kinda wonky but those are my personal costs while attempting to convert to a / gallon of gas.

or you can just skip the conversion back and say @ $0.0244 / mi electric vs. $0.125 / mi. on gas.  Basically the EV is about 5 TIMES more efficient.  That's nuts.

It's not wonky.  I went through the exact same math when we bought our 2012 Leaf.

Our old SUV got 17mpg, so was costing us about 14.7 cents per mile to drive when gas was $2.50/gallon.  The new (used) leaf costs about 2.25 cents per mile (at 7.41 cents per kWh and 3.8 miles/kWh, assuming no free public charging and a 15% overage in the charger). 

So we save about 12 cents for ever mile we drive the Leaf.  We drove it 8400 miles in the first year, for a total savings of around $1000/year in fuel costs.  Then there are additional savings from not paying for things like oil changes and the cheaper tires/wipers/fluids, but I consider those incidentals.

I paid $7700 for the leaf in 2016.  There's an old post about it in my history somewhere.

clutchy

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2018, 09:02:40 AM »

We pay about $0.115 / kWh here.  Ohio is deregulated so we can pick our supplier which(for me) includes a cent or half cent premium for 100% wind energy.

it's just a little thing I can do to support additional wind resources being built. 


I'm not sure how it works in Ohio, but in Texas buying "100% wind energy" is not exactly what it seems. Just learned about this recently:
http://www.texaspowerguide.com/2017/green-energy-plans-reality/

Summary: The energy company buys Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) from wind energy suppliers to count your power as 100% wind. However, in Texas the market is all messed up and RECs are way to cheap to provide any real boost to further renewable energy development. Most of the premium just goes to the company you are paying for energy.

Fair point.  I'll have to look it up.  Either way I know I can sell REC's in Ohio if I have solar on my roof.  Someone buys them.  Probably the energy wholesalers.

clutchy

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2018, 09:04:38 AM »
So just follow me on this because everyone's situation is different.  I was paying avg. $3.00/gal for premium fuel(current) for my bmw 330i.  Avg. was 24mpg.  So my cost per mile was $0.125/mile.  in the BMW i3 I average 4.7miles / kWh.  A kWh costs $0.115 my cost per mile is $0.0244.  SO if I take my cost per mile and move it to an equivalent gallon of gas I'm getting about 123 MPG personally ($3 / $0.0244)

I know that's kinda wonky but those are my personal costs while attempting to convert to a / gallon of gas.

or you can just skip the conversion back and say @ $0.0244 / mi electric vs. $0.125 / mi. on gas.  Basically the EV is about 5 TIMES more efficient.  That's nuts.

It's not wonky.  I went through the exact same math when we bought our 2012 Leaf.

Our old SUV got 17mpg, so was costing us about 14.7 cents per mile to drive when gas was $2.50/gallon.  The new (used) leaf costs about 2.25 cents per mile (at 7.41 cents per kWh and 3.8 miles/kWh, assuming no free public charging and a 15% overage in the charger). 

So we save about 12 cents for ever mile we drive the Leaf.  We drove it 8400 miles in the first year, for a total savings of around $1000/year in fuel costs.  Then there are additional savings from not paying for things like oil changes and the cheaper tires/wipers/fluids, but I consider those incidentals.

I paid $7700 for the leaf in 2016.  There's an old post about it in my history somewhere.


Agreed!  I just like to go through it for people b/c the numbers really are amazing when you work them out.  It's important to understand the math behind a decision. 

I paid $17k for an '14 i3 w/ 16k miles.  So the savings is obviously different there as well...

Bird In Hand

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2018, 09:25:41 AM »
Our old SUV got 17mpg, so was costing us about 14.7 cents per mile to drive when gas was $2.50/gallon.  The new (used) leaf costs about 2.25 cents per mile (at 7.41 cents per kWh and 3.8 miles/kWh, assuming no free public charging and a 15% overage in the charger). 

So we save about 12 cents for ever mile we drive the Leaf.  We drove it 8400 miles in the first year, for a total savings of around $1000/year in fuel costs.  Then there are additional savings from not paying for things like oil changes and the cheaper tires/wipers/fluids, but I consider those incidentals.

I paid $7700 for the leaf in 2016.  There's an old post about it in my history somewhere.

This is good info.  Do you happen to know/remember if the insurance and registration costs of the SUV and Leaf were close?  Annoyingly, our 2004 compact sedan costs substantially more to insure than our 2012 minivan, presumably because the minivan is much safer and/or replacement parts are widely available and cheaper.

7.41 cents per kWh is spectacular compared to many, maybe most locations in the US.  As someone mentioned upstream, the rates in New England are so much higher -- 2x-3x higher.  When I did the math on replacing our 30mpg sedan with a Leaf, the fuel savings were unfortunately minimal.  Combined with the higher annual registration fee (and not considering insurance, which might or might not be higher), it was essentially a wash.

As much as I want to drive an electric car, the financial incentive just isn't there.  When our old Mazda finally dies (or becomes stupid expensive to maintain), I sure hope that the used electric market is bigger/cheaper.  BTW, the cheapest used leaf within 100 miles of me (according to cars.com) is a $10k 2015 model with 43k miles.

OP, do the math.  You might be pleasantly surprised or maybe disappointed, depending on local cost factors.

LostGirl

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2018, 11:05:27 AM »
I was just thinking about this today! I have a 2009 Acura and feel their is some value in it now but it will drop steadily in the coming years.  The difference for me is that my company covers my gas (not maintenance) so fuel will not be a savings in making the switch. 

I decided that I'll wait another year+ as my car is running good enough and I would prefer to go fuel cell but want to wait for more stations to come online in my area.  there are currently NONE convenient to me.  I hope to continue to find excuses to put off this car purchase!   

Bird In Hand

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2018, 11:39:21 AM »
I was just thinking about this today! I have a 2009 Acura and feel their is some value in it now but it will drop steadily in the coming years.  The difference for me is that my company covers my gas (not maintenance) so fuel will not be a savings in making the switch. 

I decided that I'll wait another year+ as my car is running good enough and I would prefer to go fuel cell but want to wait for more stations to come online in my area.  there are currently NONE convenient to me.  I hope to continue to find excuses to put off this car purchase!

From my perspective you are in a completely different situation.  You have 9 year old car -- that's almost new IMO! -- from a manufacturer known for reliability, and you don't even have to pay for fuel.  And I assume you own it outright.  Short of a required engine or transmission replacement in your Acura some years down the road, replacing it with a used electric vehicle is probably never going to be a smart economic decision for you.

FIRE47

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2018, 11:57:37 AM »
Our old SUV got 17mpg, so was costing us about 14.7 cents per mile to drive when gas was $2.50/gallon.  The new (used) leaf costs about 2.25 cents per mile (at 7.41 cents per kWh and 3.8 miles/kWh, assuming no free public charging and a 15% overage in the charger). 

So we save about 12 cents for ever mile we drive the Leaf.  We drove it 8400 miles in the first year, for a total savings of around $1000/year in fuel costs.  Then there are additional savings from not paying for things like oil changes and the cheaper tires/wipers/fluids, but I consider those incidentals.

I paid $7700 for the leaf in 2016.  There's an old post about it in my history somewhere.

This is good info.  Do you happen to know/remember if the insurance and registration costs of the SUV and Leaf were close?  Annoyingly, our 2004 compact sedan costs substantially more to insure than our 2012 minivan, presumably because the minivan is much safer and/or replacement parts are widely available and cheaper.

7.41 cents per kWh is spectacular compared to many, maybe most locations in the US.  As someone mentioned upstream, the rates in New England are so much higher -- 2x-3x higher.  When I did the math on replacing our 30mpg sedan with a Leaf, the fuel savings were unfortunately minimal.  Combined with the higher annual registration fee (and not considering insurance, which might or might not be higher), it was essentially a wash.

As much as I want to drive an electric car, the financial incentive just isn't there.  When our old Mazda finally dies (or becomes stupid expensive to maintain), I sure hope that the used electric market is bigger/cheaper.  BTW, the cheapest used leaf within 100 miles of me (according to cars.com) is a $10k 2015 model with 43k miles.

OP, do the math.  You might be pleasantly surprised or maybe disappointed, depending on local cost factors.

I think used EV are only going to get more expensive in the short and medium term - the incentives are going away federally in the US I was told (dont quote me on that I dont live there) and will also be going away in Canada's largest market soon so the cost of new is going to go up, thus driving up the cost of used as well there will be fewer of them purchased to filter down to the used market.

At the same time they already have pretty bad depreciation because people don't trust them and are afraid of the battery going out which will probably fade a bit with time.

In short if you are waiting for them to get cheaper you will be waiting 5+ years until batteries get cheaper but inflation, better range, and peoples increasing faith in the technology will also be working against you.

I did the math including as many factors as I could and over a 5 year span it actually made sense to dump a 2012 car and buy a brand new Volt (13k government incentives and free charging ~75% of the time make it somewhat unique) - if the volt lasts longer then the savings are even more.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2018, 12:05:36 PM by FIRE47 »

Bird In Hand

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2018, 12:08:31 PM »
I think used EV are only going to get more expensive in the short and medium term - the incentives are going away federally in the US I believe and will also be going away in Canada's largest market so the cost of new is going to go up, thus driving up the cost of used as well there will be fewer of them purchased to filter down to the used market.
...
In short if you are waiting for them to get cheaper you will be waiting 5+ years.

Maybe so.  I assumed that the MSRP had the incentives somewhat baked in.  Regardless, I think manufacturers will lower the prices if sales start to decline.  Maybe that's not sustainable long term if the market is small, but I also assume that competition, cheaper battery technology, and quantities of scale will put downward pressure on prices as the market grows.  In short, I'm not convinced that new sales are going to decrease much (if at all).  My guess is that the used market has stabilized and will stay that way for a while.  When the battery cost/tech improves to the point where most new EVs have a comparable range to ICE, then I could see the end of rapid EV depreciation and an uptick in the cost of used EVs.

FIRE47

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2018, 12:27:25 PM »
I think used EV are only going to get more expensive in the short and medium term - the incentives are going away federally in the US I believe and will also be going away in Canada's largest market so the cost of new is going to go up, thus driving up the cost of used as well there will be fewer of them purchased to filter down to the used market.
...
In short if you are waiting for them to get cheaper you will be waiting 5+ years.

Maybe so.  I assumed that the MSRP had the incentives somewhat baked in.  Regardless, I think manufacturers will lower the prices if sales start to decline.  Maybe that's not sustainable long term if the market is small, but I also assume that competition, cheaper battery technology, and quantities of scale will put downward pressure on prices as the market grows.  In short, I'm not convinced that new sales are going to decrease much (if at all).  My guess is that the used market has stabilized and will stay that way for a while.  When the battery cost/tech improves to the point where most new EVs have a comparable range to ICE, then I could see the end of rapid EV depreciation and an uptick in the cost of used EVs.

The problem is most of them really don't make any money on the current fleet of EVs - I've even heard they are taking losses on some like the Bolt.  They will no doubt have to adjust their prices due to the loss of the rebate and prices may come down a bit especially to move existing inventory - but they certainly do not have room to come down the $7,500 or more. They won't lower prices to combat the lack of sales, they may simply stop selling cheap EVs. They just don't have that much room to move on a low volume R&D heavy EV.

The solution we will see is that they have to start selling EV SUVs and trucks to make any money and the current fleet may go the way that ICE compacts and sedans are going - the graveyard.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2018, 12:31:31 PM by FIRE47 »

sol

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2018, 02:12:20 PM »
This is good info.  Do you happen to know/remember if the insurance and registration costs of the SUV and Leaf were close? 

Insurance costs are slightly tricky because we didn't replace the SUV, we added the 2012 Leaf as a second vehicle.  The new total insurance costs were $38.60 per year more for both cars than I was previously paying for just the SUV.  That's almost free.

Quote
7.41 cents per kWh is spectacular compared to many, maybe most locations in the US.

Yes, but that cuts both ways.  I pay a lot less for the ~200 kWh required to power my car each month, but I also get paid a lot less for the ~5000 kWh in surplus solar power my roof panels generates each year.  The PNW has cheap and abundant hydropower, which is good for the environment and bad for supporting other forms of renewable energy.

Quote
I sure hope that the used electric market is bigger/cheaper.  BTW, the cheapest used leaf within 100 miles of me (according to cars.com) is a $10k 2015 model with 43k miles.

You have to go older.  Electric cars are improving so quickly that older ones are basically worthless.  Think of them like cell phones; if you go back three or four generations they are practically free.  The range on my 2012 Leaf is only about 70 miles, and with so many better cars on the market nobody wants one as crappy as mine.  Fortunately my commute is only 8 miles each way.

Ignore cars.com, check craigslist or local classifieds.  Like all dealers, cars.com is going to overcharge you by 20% to cover their middleman profit margin.  Mustachians know better than to pay middlemen.

LostGirl

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Re: Buy electric car now or wait?
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2018, 09:22:26 PM »
I was just thinking about this today! I have a 2009 Acura and feel their is some value in it now but it will drop steadily in the coming years.  The difference for me is that my company covers my gas (not maintenance) so fuel will not be a savings in making the switch. 

I decided that I'll wait another year+ as my car is running good enough and I would prefer to go fuel cell but want to wait for more stations to come online in my area.  there are currently NONE convenient to me.  I hope to continue to find excuses to put off this car purchase!

From my perspective you are in a completely different situation.  You have 9 year old car -- that's almost new IMO! -- from a manufacturer known for reliability, and you don't even have to pay for fuel.  And I assume you own it outright.  Short of a required engine or transmission replacement in your Acura some years down the road, replacing it with a used electric vehicle is probably never going to be a smart economic decision for you.
yeah, that's exactly where I landed. It's getting pretty high mileage but still running great. She's a keeper. 
I used to have a Mazda as well and they are super reliable, hopefully yours will keep going for a while!