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Buying an electric vehicle: 3 tips.

My family recently purchased a Nissan Leaf, it’s an all electric vehicle with 215 miles of range. So, I wanted to share my experience about buying an electric vehicle with you.  In this article, I’ll share my family’s decision making process, shopping experience, home modifications.

1. What did we consider before buying an electric vehicle?

We calculated that we spent on average around $3,000 a year on gas and maintenance for my wife’s minivan.  We also took into consideration all of the time spent at the gas station and at dealerships for service.

Our utility company believes that the average EV buyer spends around $300 per year on electricity for their EV.   If this is true, we figured that we would save around $2,700 a year.  Note, EV manufacturers do recommend scheduled maintenance. So, there is some monetary and time cost to consider when owning an EV.  But, annual gas savings and the federal tax credit and state rebate made sense for us to buy. 

You’ll want to check with your CPA regarding if you and your EV qualify.  You’ll want to check with the organization that issues state EV rebates to confirm you and your EV qualify. 

Also, some of our friends own electric vehicles and they all responded that it was a positive experience overall.  We have one family friend that said after 100,000 miles driven, the Leaf’s original brakes were only 50% depleted.

Other benefits are free charging at your work (if applicable), carpool lane with no passengers, and helping the environment.   

2. Why did we choose a Nissan Leaf?

We test drove new Kia Niro, new Hyundai Kona, and a 2014 Tesla Model S. But, we decided to buy the Leaf SV Plus.  We chose the Leaf SV Plus for many reasons. First, the Leaf qualified for the federal tax credit and state rebate. Some electric vehicles didn’t qualify because the EV manufacturers already hit certain production thresholds.  Also, I don’t believe used electric vehicles qualify for the tax credit, but you’ll want to verify with your CPA. 

Second, the Leaf has been around for many years. So, we figured that Nissan has probably has worked out the majority of the bugs. 

Third, the Leaf SV Plus has 215 miles of range now, so it minimizes our range anxiety. I believe that in the beginning, the Leaf only had 90 miles of range. We wouldn’t have considered the Leaf if this was still the case.

Fourth, there are an abundance of Leaf vehicles for sale, so this helped us with negotiating a good price. See my article about tips for negotiating the lowest price for your new car purchase

Also, the Nissan dealership we purchased the Leaf from offers free charging stations, free car washes and a coupon book. We used a coupon when we had our windows tinted. And, when we bring our Leaf in for service, the dealership provides us with rental vehicle. This is typically a perk only received typically when you buy a luxury vehicle. 

3. What modifications at home are needed to own an EV?

Electric vehicles can use a home outlet to charge, but it can take days to charge to full capacity. 

In our city, our electric utility offers a $599 rebate (if you qualify) or a free EVSE (EV charging station).  We went with the rebate. We used it to help cover the majority of the cost of adding a 240 volt receptacle in our garage. Our Leaf came with a charging cord for a 240 volt receptacle and a 110 volt adapter.

The other day, I noticed the Leaf’s battery was around 20% of capacity. I plugged in the cord into the 240 volt receptacle and charged it from 12 midnight to 6 am. It charged up to around 80% capacity. So, I’m getting about 10% charge for every hour.

You’ll want to have an electrician inspect your electrical panel and parking location before you purchase an electric vehicle. An electrician will let you know if there will be any issues and how much it will cost.

We have a family friend that has owned a Leaf for many years and never installed either. She just used the 110 volt outlet or went to the Nissan dealership to use the fast charging station.  But, the Leaf user manual states that using quick charging stations frequently is not good for the battery.

How are things going so far?

We purchased our Leaf in November 2019, so we’re still newbies.  But, so far we’ve been very happy with our Leaf. We’re happy with the ride comfort, functionality, features, etc.  There are some minor things that my wife and I would change on the Leaf. But, I’ll save that information for when I write a review for the Leaf. 

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