Author Topic: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?  (Read 1376 times)

Syonyk

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~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« on: October 02, 2018, 09:19:04 PM »
After verifying that carseats and stroller and such fit in a 1st gen Volt, I'm considering one for sale locally at a dealership.  I'd be trading a 2015 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring (manual/2.5L) more or less equally for a 2012 Volt with somewhat fewer miles (27k vs 35k), in excellent condition.

We live in a rural area, and my wife (and kids) drive into town a few days a week for various things - library, groceries, etc.  It's a 20-30 mile round trip.  I work from home, and half the time I'm going into town I'm with them.

We have a 2015 Mazda 3 that works fine, gets about 32mpg on average, and is currently used regularly.

I'm considering replacing it with a Volt, as the 30-35 mile electric range means that they'll be able to do most of their trips on electric, not gas.  This is paired with the fact that I'm putting in a rather large solar power system for the house next year (14-15kW, hybrid grid tied/off grid), which means, once installed, our power will be "cheap to free" most of the year.  I can't ever get paid out for a surplus, so I may as well use it.  And I also have solar on my office, which eventually will be linked into the house area, somehow.  There will be lots of solar on our hill next summer.

I've convinced myself this is a reasonable trade.  At current prices, ~300 gallons of gas annually ($1000) gets replaced with ~3MWh electric ($250-$300), with savings increasing as fuel prices likely increase in the next decade.  Plus, a general reduction in our carbon emissions and a more anti-fragile method of transport (we'll be able to charge even if the grid is down and services are disrupted).  Even if we burn 4 tanks a year, that's an extra $100 or so - still coming out ahead, and only more so as our electric prices drop with solar and gas prices likely rise.

My wife... is mostly onboard, still trying to think through going to a 3 year older car, but has no major objections to the plan, and is fine with how it drives.

I mostly think this is a reasonable exchange.  The Volt is well documented, and I can do minor to moderate service items myself.  I have access to a lift for major things, but... probably wouldn't.  And we have another vehicle that can be used as a backup if something goes wrong, though certainly at a far higher cost per mile (a large truck that gets used for things that require a large truck).

My goal would be a 1:1 trade, or, at worst, about $1000 that I write a check for.  More than that, I'll buy the Volt and sell the Mazda 3 myself (I can get a bit more for private party, as it's a manual).  The long term impact on cashflow should be positive, and it will mostly insulate us from any rising gas prices.

So... convince me this is a bad idea?  Or a good idea?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2018, 04:21:39 AM »
I think itís a great idea, but I really like the convenience of PHEVs so I might be biased.

There is an important software recall on first-gen Volts that you should make sure is done or get done ASAP.

NorCal

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2018, 08:56:24 AM »
I'd really do the math on how much you spend on gas vs. the transaction costs of the trade (taxes, license, etc.)

Both are good cars, and the mileage on the Mazda isn't bad.  I don't know which one is better without knowing how much you're paying in gas.  My guess is you might end up slightly ahead with the trade, but not by a huge amount.

Syonyk

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2018, 09:33:44 AM »
I'd really do the math on how much you spend on gas vs. the transaction costs of the trade (taxes, license, etc.)

It depends a bit on how much I get for the Mazda3.  I think selling it private party makes the whole thing more advantageous, but I expect even with a straight up trade, the transaction costs will be paid back in a year or so.  Our fuel becomes "very, very cheap" next year once the solar arrays are online.

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I don't know which one is better without knowing how much you're paying in gas.  My guess is you might end up slightly ahead with the trade, but not by a huge amount.

It's around $1000/yr in fuel for the car right now, but I'm not particularly reliable in breaking down gas station transactions by vehicle, so that's a bit of a ballpark guess.  I try to break down fuel purchases by vehicle category, but based on the large number of uncategorized gas station purchases, I'm not doing great at that.

My main goal would be to insulate ourselves from rising fuel prices in the future, which we both think are likely.  If fuel prices stay the same or drop, there isn't a huge advantage.  But if prices rise in the next 10 years, the gap between "buying gasoline" and "mostly fueling from our solar panels" becomes larger, and the price of EVs likely goes up somewhat on the used market.

There is a risk in that the Volt is a more complex vehicle, but I can find service manuals for it and I can do a lot of work myself.  High voltage battery systems don't really bother me - I do work with that sort of stuff regularly anyway, and the rest of it is just a car.

omachi

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2018, 10:57:44 AM »
I'll play devil's advocate a little.

You're not taking into account how much you have to pay to put in enough solar that you can keep an electric car charged. Since you can't get paid out for a surplus of solar power, you might be better off having slightly too little capacity and paying for that tiny bit extra you use. Your use should be elastic enough that you can turn some things off if the grid is down and still have solar keep the important stuff working.

You aren't taking into account the charging infrastructure you'll need to add, unless you're just planning to use a normal 120V outlet. If you're planning faster charging, that will cost you something and tips the balance away from the Volt.

The Mazda is fairly fuel efficient, though it's not the more efficient 2L. Assuming gas prices go up as you expect, it will still be in higher demand than vehicles that use a ton of gas. So you can still make the change in the future when you're proven correct. Plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles are likely to continue losing value in that time. Electric vehicles seem to depreciate way faster than gas vehicles for some reason, so it's unlikely holding off is going to hurt you on the trade costs. You might be able to get a newer or nicer example two years down the road for an even trade, though you'll have spent more on fuel in the meantime.

I don't know how well the Volt batteries hold up, but I know they have a decently long warranty that you'd be inside of for at least a couple years. Do you know the rate at which people need to replace parts of the electric system and the costs involved? That should be a factor as well, since hybrids have all the normal gas parts and then some.

Devil's advocacy aside, it seems reasonable. There are more upfront costs involved - being induced to buy more solar capacity, possibly a charger, any registration fees - but those should be paid back over time by reduced gas usage and start making returns at a decent rate if you really do end up saving $650+ per year in fuel. Though remember that the upfront fees don't just need to be made up, but you should compare against what that money could do for you invested instead of spent. You should have the numbers available to you to do that.

Syonyk

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2018, 11:39:34 AM »
I'll play devil's advocate a little.

Appreciated!

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You're not taking into account how much you have to pay to put in enough solar that you can keep an electric car charged. Since you can't get paid out for a surplus of solar power, you might be better off having slightly too little capacity and paying for that tiny bit extra you use. Your use should be elastic enough that you can turn some things off if the grid is down and still have solar keep the important stuff working.

The system will be slightly undersized with an electric car - I do expect to still buy a small amount of power, especially in the winter (we heat on electricity).  However, it's designed and sized such that I could add more capacity if needed - I'll have two large arrays of panels up, and will be designing and trenching to add a third, south facing bank, if needed.  Use is definitely elastic.

However, as I'm doing the system work myself, extra panel area just isn't that expensive.  I'll get (eventually) the 30% back on the system components through the tax refund, and I have some contacts such that I can get pretty good pricing on panels.  Mounting materials (wood for the ground mounts and concrete) won't be the cheapest, but they'll be in service for a long time, so no real concerns there.

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You aren't taking into account the charging infrastructure you'll need to add, unless you're just planning to use a normal 120V outlet. If you're planning faster charging, that will cost you something and tips the balance away from the Volt.

I'll be charging with 120V - I see no reason to put in higher speed charging.  I may run a 240V outlet over to the car eventually (when I put solar in - I'll be trenching all over, what's another trench or two?), but it's quite close to the service box so won't add much real cost, and it's power out towards my shipping container workshop anyway.

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The Mazda is fairly fuel efficient, though it's not the more efficient 2L. Assuming gas prices go up as you expect, it will still be in higher demand than vehicles that use a ton of gas. So you can still make the change in the future when you're proven correct. Plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles are likely to continue losing value in that time. Electric vehicles seem to depreciate way faster than gas vehicles for some reason, so it's unlikely holding off is going to hurt you on the trade costs. You might be able to get a newer or nicer example two years down the road for an even trade, though you'll have spent more on fuel in the meantime.

Correct.  We're averaging about 31.8mpg (lots of 55mph rural driving), so it's not like it's consuming /that/ much fuel.

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I don't know how well the Volt batteries hold up, but I know they have a decently long warranty that you'd be inside of for at least a couple years. Do you know the rate at which people need to replace parts of the electric system and the costs involved? That should be a factor as well, since hybrids have all the normal gas parts and then some.

The Volt batteries are incredibly well done - they're conservative^2, in how they're managed.  No concerns there.  The likely issue, at some point many tens of thousands of miles in the future, is a stator bearing in the transmission, which is around a $1000 job, but not all of them have the problem, and that's likely 6-8 years off if it happens at the common milage.

Quote
Devil's advocacy aside, it seems reasonable. There are more upfront costs involved - being induced to buy more solar capacity, possibly a charger, any registration fees - but those should be paid back over time by reduced gas usage and start making returns at a decent rate if you really do end up saving $650+ per year in fuel. Though remember that the upfront fees don't just need to be made up, but you should compare against what that money could do for you invested instead of spent. You should have the numbers available to you to do that.

The solar capacity... eh, it's an extra 3MWh/yr on a house that uses about 12-14MWh/yr.  We've got a pretty deep well, and pure electric heating/cooling/water/etc.  I plan to replace some of that load with solar thermal as time goes on, so I expect our electricity use to drop over time as I get those systems online (for hot water, especially).  Right now, investment is heavily in our property - I have a non-standard approach in that I'm looking to drive down our expected costs, long term, through productive property improvements (solar, greenhouses, chicken coops, etc) and anti-fragility.  So the money saved will go towards things like water storage (which will reduce our power demands for irrigation, among other things) before it would go into traditional investments.

The most efficient way to do it would be to sell the Mazda private party, at which point I think I'd come out with all the fees and such covered - the Mazda, private party, is worth a bit more than the Volt, but there's the convenience factor of having it all done in one transaction, and I'm not exactly sitting on the edge of the financial cliff.

omachi

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2018, 12:20:52 PM »
Sounds like you have your bases covered then. You're adding 20-25% to your needed capacity, but it sounds like the numbers will work out for you, so I'd say go for it.

Trade-in on the Mazda might lower your sales taxes on the Volt enough to make up for some of the difference between that and private party sale. Could bring it within convenience range.

Syonyk

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2018, 12:26:10 PM »
Sounds like you have your bases covered then. You're adding 20-25% to your needed capacity, but it sounds like the numbers will work out for you, so I'd say go for it.

Trade-in on the Mazda might lower your sales taxes on the Volt enough to make up for some of the difference between that and private party sale. Could bring it within convenience range.

Oh, interesting - how does that work?  I thought you paid sales tax on the full value of the new vehicle, regardless.

omachi

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2018, 01:21:54 PM »
Sounds like you have your bases covered then. You're adding 20-25% to your needed capacity, but it sounds like the numbers will work out for you, so I'd say go for it.

Trade-in on the Mazda might lower your sales taxes on the Volt enough to make up for some of the difference between that and private party sale. Could bring it within convenience range.

Oh, interesting - how does that work?  I thought you paid sales tax on the full value of the new vehicle, regardless.
Most states deduct the trade in value from the sale value of a car for purposes of calculating sales tax. So if you have an even trade, you won't pay sales tax on it in those states.  If you sell private and then buy, you'll have to pay sales tax on the full price of the purchased vehicle.

CA and a few others don't allow this though, so it may not apply to you depending on where you are.

Syonyk

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2018, 01:27:51 PM »
I don't see anything like that in Idaho, but it's worth asking about.

omachi

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2018, 01:34:10 PM »
I don't see anything like that in Idaho, but it's worth asking about.
A couple seconds with Google shows that Idaho allows the trade in allowance to offset purchase price for taxes. See 044-02 in the following:

https://adminrules.idaho.gov/rules/current/35/350102.pdf

onlykelsey

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2018, 01:38:57 PM »
Not sure what the geography is like where you live, but I've liked having a manual in snowy hilly areas.  Is your other car automatic?  Would you miss driving stick?

Syonyk

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2018, 02:01:20 PM »
A couple seconds with Google shows that Idaho allows the trade in allowance to offset purchase price for taxes. See 044-02 in the following:

https://adminrules.idaho.gov/rules/current/35/350102.pdf

Ah, thanks!  Appreciate that - I obviously wasn't searching for the right thing.

Not sure what the geography is like where you live, but I've liked having a manual in snowy hilly areas.  Is your other car automatic?  Would you miss driving stick?

We have some hills, and do get snow.  The driveway is the main limiting factor - if we can get the car to the road, we're fine.  The other vehicle is an automatic, and is a large 4WD truck.  It gets used on occasion in the winter when the car is stuck, which varies depending on the winter.

I'd miss driving stick a bit, I'm sure my wife would as well, but electric torque is fun too.  So, probably not a dealbreaker one way or the other.

Syonyk

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2018, 10:17:40 PM »
Well, wife is OK with it, so assuming it's still for sale Friday, I'll go do a more detailed inspection trying to convince myself it's a problem looking for a place to happen, and if I can't convince myself of that, attempt to negotiate as much as a straight up trade across as I can.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2018, 02:48:53 AM »
Run out the battery and go up a hill on the test drive just to make sure it doesnít have the Propilsion Power Reduced problem. Thatís covered under warranty since the EV bits have an 8year 100,000mile warranty, but still.

gaja

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2018, 03:56:40 AM »
With the type of use you describe, why not go for full electric? The hybrid solution gives you an additional drivetrain to take care of, while the electric motor is incredibly simple and cheap to maintain. If you donít need more than ~30 miles range, there are some very cheap old evs on the market. And you would get a larger battery available to store solar peaks.

Syonyk

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2018, 10:39:20 AM »
Run out the battery and go up a hill on the test drive just to make sure it doesnít have the Propilsion Power Reduced problem. Thatís covered under warranty since the EV bits have an 8year 100,000mile warranty, but still.

Right, and I should still have 2 years of factory warranty (or a bit more) left, depending on when it was sold.  The mileage won't be a problem.  I'm aware of a software recall/update for that issue, and I'll be checking with the Chevy dealership to make sure those have been done.

With the type of use you describe, why not go for full electric? The hybrid solution gives you an additional drivetrain to take care of, while the electric motor is incredibly simple and cheap to maintain. If you donít need more than ~30 miles range, there are some very cheap old evs on the market. And you would get a larger battery available to store solar peaks.

Because the common use case is 30 miles, but it's not the only use case.

I'd been planning on getting a beater Leaf with 50-60 miles of range for exactly that purpose, but after spending time thinking through what we do, how we drive, and where we live, it didn't make sense to get another car that couldn't do lots of things we do (head up into the mountains to little towns, occasionally do longer days if we're heading to something over in Boise, etc).  We'd either need to keep another car as a backup (which involves lots of changing car seats around, which is a pain), or we'd have to take the truck for a lot of stuff that otherwise should be done with a car.  Since the truck gets about 12-13mpg (of diesel), putting a lot more miles on that would defeat the purpose.

We have ~no public charging infrastructure around here, so charging while out is basically impossible.  Also, I have no desire to subject my wife to that with a 3.5 year old and a 3 month old.  "I can't get home to get them down to nap because we used a bit more battery than expected" is not really acceptable to either of us.

Given all that, my original plan had been to wait for a 2nd gen Volt to come down in price used, but a 1st gen came up, and our stuff fits fine (they're considered to have a "very tight back row", so I'd assumed we couldn't fit carseats and the like - turns out, our stuff fits fine when we try it).  I don't see a huge likely difference in fuel consumption between the 30-35 mile range of the 1st gen and the 50 mile range of the 2nd gen (on battery), and if you don't burn gas occasionally, it runs the motor anyway to keep gas from going stale, so if it burns a bit... well, it would have done that anyway.

bigdoug03

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Re: ~Trading a 2015 Mazda 3 for a 2012 Volt: Good idea, bad idea, ?
« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2018, 11:09:12 AM »
I have a 2013 Volt and it's a great car. Others have mentioned snow, but in my experience the Volt does pretty good. It's front wheel drive and very heavy so it maintains traction pretty well. The ground clearance is low though, so in deep snow you may get stuck.

Electric mileage varies greatly with the temperature, and running the electric heat drains the battery real quick. I can get 45 miles on battery when it's 80F outside, but if it's below 20F it will only go in the low 20's before switching to gas.

If you drive mostly on electric you will also save some on oil changes. I drive 20,000 miles a year and only have to change oil every 2 years.

On the bad side, if anything is wrong with the car you are stuck taking it to a dealer to fix. No independent mechanic I've talked to will touch it, even for routine stuff outside the drivetrain. Not even all Chevy dealers are allowed to service the Volt, they need to have a trained Voltec tech and a bunch of specialized tools. You may want to call your local dealership and check, it would really suck to have to tow your car to another city for service.