For example, if you want to lease the fully-electric 2013 Nissan Leaf’s basic model at the standard 24 month, 12,000-mile terms, you can expect to pay about $56 in fees at the beginning plus $290-per-month for the term of the lease. If you decide to not lease another Nissan at the end of the term, you would also have to pay a $395 disposition fee when you turn in the first car at the end. Thus, over the course of two years, including the disposition fee, you’d pay $7,411 for your car—or about $308.79-per-month or $10.15-a-day. My local Nissan representative Robert tells me that it should cost about $1.00 to fully charge the battery, so I calculate that it would cost at most around $11.15-a-day to be able to drive the Leaf (prior to any considerations about insurance). Maintenance costs during the lease term are also projected to be close to nothing, because the car does not have an internal combustion engine and does not use gasoline or motor oil.
Now you need to consider incentives. Since this is a leased vehicle, it would not qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric drive vehicles, but here in Georgia, I have the income level necessary to take full advantage of a $5,000 state income tax credit available for the lease or purchase of a zero-emissions vehicle. (Search for incentives in your state here.) Taken fully, this credit can knock about $6.85-a-day from the cost of a leased Leaf, so Georgia has turned my $11.15-a-day car into a $4.30-a-day car.
That’s already an incredible deal, because AAA estimates that the average cost to own a 2013 sedan is about $24.99-a-day.
The Leaf can get even cheaper when you consider the impact of owning another vehicle. I drive a Volvo C70, which AOL Autos says has a total cost to own of $25.54-a-day brand-new if I drive about 10,000 miles-per-year. Based on their cost assumptions, the cost to own a C70 includes about $118.92-per-month or $3.91-a-day in insurance.
I actually pay about $146 a month in insurance ($4.80-a-day) with a $500 deductible. My insurer has told me that if I adjusted my Volvo’s annual mileage estimates from 10,000 miles to 1,000 miles (because I would be driving the Leaf more than my Volvo), I should be able to get my combined insurance payments down to $176-per-month (about $83 for the Volvo and $93 for the Leaf) with a $1,000 deductible. That means that the new car could only add $0.99-a-day to my insurance costs, while moving my Volvo’s insurance costs down to $2.73-a-day. Using the AAA’s numbers, that would bring the daily cost to own a Volvo to about $23.47-a-day.
Now, we need to account for fuel. I cut my annual mile assumption for the Volvo by 90% so let’s adjust the AOL Autos calculations there. They estimate about $4.20-a-day in fuel costs for a C70 that drives 10,000 miles a year. If I cut that by 90%, that means I’ve reduced $3.78-a-day from the total daily cost-to-own, which is now $19.69.
After insurance and fuel reductions, I’ve essentially cut the daily cost-to-own my first car by $5.85 by adding a second fully-electric vehicle that costs $7.36-a-day. When you combine the reductions on the first car with the additional cost of the second car, it turns out that I get to use a fully electric car for the cost of about $1.51-a-day. And if I decide to lease another Leaf at the end, there’d be no disposition fee—knocking the daily cost of a fully-electric second vehicle down to $0.97.
In my mind, that’s a free car—and a no-brainer for everyone from earth-lovers to penny-pinchers.
How much $$ do you estimate that you spend on your car each day? What do you do to reduce that cost? Are you a driver with buyer’s remorse, a frugal driver-in-training or an electric vehicle aficionado? Share your story in the comments below or in our Community Forum!