Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lease vs. Buy...Electric cars have changed the rules


Total Ownership costs for new cars are coming down.  Most websites do a lousy job in regards to the all new Electric cars.  You don't have to be a cost analyst to see the benefits, because I am one...I'll show you the truth.

I've been driving a Smart ForTwo Electric since January, and it's been a real joy.  I haven't enjoyed driving this much since my 91 Dodge Monaco.  That was over 16 years ago.  When it comes to electric cars, a great deal of misinformation has appeared.  Mainly due to ignorance and other factors such as making reviews on cars they don't actually drive everyday.  Plus the whole eMPG is just plain ridiculous.  What they should be touting is mpKwH or miles per kilowatt hour.  This is much meaningful rather than the stupid eMPG (electric Miles per Gallon).  But, I wouldn't stop there...for the Smart EV, I'd add another number to the mpKWH.  I'd add the cost per 100 miles @ .11 per KWH.  This will give people a better understanding of how superior electric cars are.  Since my car on average is getting 3.8 mpkwh I am paying $0.029 per mile or $2.89 per 100 miles.  Unlike gas prices, this price will stay constant for the year.

Now, before I get started...if you live in Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska or Maine...well electric cars are not for you at this time.  I'd say only 10 states EV doesn't make any sense.  If you need to drive on the Interstate, the Smart EV is probably not very smart.  State routes where the speed limit is 55 is fine. 

Visiting Kelley Blue Book website they list the top vehicles by class 5 year total ownership.  Electric cars should be on the top of the list, but they aren't.  Why?  You'd have to ask them where they got their depreciation number from.  For example, they list the Smart ForTwo Electric vehicle at 5 year total ownership costs at $26,825.  They list the gas version on the Smart car at $27,102.  However, the top car listed on their website is the Nissan Versa S coming in at $24,392.  These costs assume you drive 15000 per year.  Who does that?  Not me.  Depreciation for the Smart EV KBB put just over $20k???  Something is malfunctioning.

The KBB website doesn't take into account monthly payments, but rather uses depreciation to show how much it is costing you to own the vehicle, which is kind of misleading, but we can go with this.

I adjusted the miles to 50000 since the Smart EV lease is only 10000 per year.  If you are driving more than 10000 either you only have one car, or you live too far from work.  Much like range anxiety (not knowing all the data), people may have mileage anxiety (will I use more than my lease).  Sure it can scare people when "Limits" are put in place.  However, if you do some analysis you'll quickly realize many of these assumptions that you perceive are completely faulty.  For example, I live 8.1 miles from work, I can round to 10 in case I go somewhere to lunch.  That's 20 miles per day.  I pass many major restaurants, stores on my way to and from work if I need to pick something up.  If I total up the miles 20 x 5 x 52 = 5200 miles per year.  Obviously I do drive on the weekends, so you can figure out how much you typically drive.  On average I drive about 500 miles per month, which isn't even close to breaking 10k.

The Nissan Versa cost the following with 1853.40 down @ 2.48% APR for 60 months
Nissan Versa
$5,857 fuel
$3,220 Insurance
$648 Financing
$1,067 State fees
$2,388 Maintenance
$2,046 Repairs
$5,481 Depreciation
$20,707 Total 5 year ownership costs

This information is from actual data I have collected based on my experiences thus far.
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
$1,447.37 Fuel @ .11 per kwh
$2,940 Insurance
$1,853.4 Initial Payment including state fees
$1,853.4 Second Initial payment including state fees
$9,117.27 Payment $85.4 per month battery and $69.13 per month car lease, which includes depreciation
$495.00 Turn in cost
$17,706.44 Total 5 year ownership costs

Difference of $3000.56 in favor of the Smart Electric Drive.  Personally, I don't believe my second initial payment will be that high, however to be conservative I left it alone.  Why is the lease an even better deal?  Well, you get a new 2018 model with all the technological advances, where the person who bought the Nissan Versa still has that boring 2015 model.

What else does this not include?  How about free fuel for the Smart EV?  In Dayton, OH there are 20 electric chargers free to use thanks to DP&L potentially violating the Clean Air Act.  I could charge my car at work for about 1 hour during lunch on the 240 volt charger and pay for half of my daily commute.  My 3.8 mpkwh is based on winter driving thus far.  I would assume my fuel efficiency will go up during the Spring, Summer and Fall.

What about safety?  Well check out the IIHS Crash tests on the Nissan Versa.  In the small overlap test it did poorly.  Model year makes a big difference.  If you look at the Honda Fit in 2013 it did poorly in the small overlap test, but the 2015 model did acceptable.

The Smart EV monthly payments comes to $154.53 per month vs. $210 per month.

Purchase price of $11,917 for the Nissan + $825 Destination fee, tax & license fees $934 costing $13,676 with the $1,853 down payment and 2.48% interest (data from KBB).  It assumes a manual transmission, basic model.

Is the Smart car cheaper to own and operate than the 2000 Dodge Neon that I sold (miss you, xoxo)?  Probably not...plus I cannot drive the Smart EV on business trips.  The safety ratings were just down right horrible on the Neon.  Neon Moderate Overlap test was marginal.  Neon side crash test for 2005 was poor vs. Smart EV with 8 airbags is good.

2008 model - Improvements have been made since then, however it received a good rating in each category.

Moderate overlap - Smart EV
Side crash - Smart EV
Roof Strength - Smart EV

Feel free to comment below, and criticize if you think I made some errors.

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