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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Most Electric Cars Sold in the U.S. Are Leased

    There's a good reason why EV buyers are leasing

    You find yourself in the showroom, ready to drive away in a new Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, or Tesla Model S. But there is one big question that needs to be decided, do you buy or lease it? According to a report from Bloomberg, most buyers of EVs tend to lease.

    In the U.S., almost 80 percent of electric vehicles on the road are leased according to their report. It also says that 55 percent of plug-in hybrids are leased. More than 80 percent of BMW i3s are leased as an example. The key reason comes down to the belief that electric vehicles will continue to improve and buyers can simply trade them - similar to purchasing a new smartphone.

    "When there’s new technology coming out, and it’s coming out so rapidly, and you’re improving on it so constantly, typically people only want to lease it,” said Steve Center, a vice president of American Honda Motor Co., back in April.

    This bet seems to be paying off as the range of electric vehicles has been increasing, while prices of batteries have been going downward.

    “If you look at what can happen across the lifetime of a lease, you’re really talking about doubling the range of these vehicles,” said Edmunds analyst Jeremy Acevedo.

    The imbalance between leasing/buying an electric vehicle has also made used EVs to become a steal. According to auto analytics firm Black Book, compact electric vehicles sold in 2014 only hold 23 percent of their original sale price. A comparable internal combustion vehicle holds about 41 percent. Doing a quick search on Cars.com, we were able to find low mileage 2015 Nissan Leafs ranging $14,000 to $16,000.

    The big question is will this trend continue down the road, considering the likes the Model 3 and models coming from German automakers.

    Source: Bloomberg

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    Awesome write up and I agree, eight now as much as I like the EV auto's, lease is the way to go as we are changing tech way to fast to buy.

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    A gently used, certified pre-owned Bolt would be a steal for someone shopping the segment. 

    That said, I think part of it also has to do with the way the tax credit is structured.  If you lease, you get the full credit vis-a-vie the leasing company.  If you buy, then you have to deal with submitting for the tax credit and possibly not being eligible for the full amount.   I'm certain that is an aspect for leasing as well. 

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    51 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    A gently used, certified pre-owned Bolt would be a steal for someone shopping the segment. 

    That said, I think part of it also has to do with the way the tax credit is structured.  If you lease, you get the full credit vis-a-vie the leasing company.  If you buy, then you have to deal with submitting for the tax credit and possibly not being eligible for the full amount.   I'm certain that is an aspect for leasing as well. 

    I never knew that on leasing. 

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    From a different perspective, electric vehicles, per the article, can be seen as throwaways.  First off they're leased, then dumped into a market where they have no value.  From a financial point of view, they are a much worse investment than conventional vehicles, which can effortlessly be kept in service by subsequent owners, this adds intrinsic value that is impossible to deny.

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    1 minute ago, ocnblu said:

    From a different perspective, electric vehicles, per the article, can be seen as throwaways.  First off they're leased, then dumped into a market where they have no value.  From a financial point of view, they are a much worse investment than conventional vehicles, which can effortlessly be kept in service by subsequent owners, this adds intrinsic value that is impossible to deny.

    Effortlessly? I beg to differ. It's going to take me hours of effort to replace the starter in my CRV.

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    1 hour ago, ocnblu said:

    From a different perspective, electric vehicles, per the article, can be seen as throwaways.  First off they're leased, then dumped into a market where they have no value.  From a financial point of view, they are a much worse investment than conventional vehicles, which can effortlessly be kept in service by subsequent owners, this adds intrinsic value that is impossible to deny.

    Wrong, EV leasing offers all auto companies a way to off set profits which in the end means having to pay the tax man. Much value to the bottom line.

    In regards to Effortlessly be kept in service, stop dreaming silly, Petro auto's often cause hours of wrench time to repair and keep running.

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    I just realized something yuge and even more precarious for the industry we all love.  The electric car mentality is the very same as the cell phone mentality.  Now let me ask you, good citizens, is this really what you want?  To Apple-ize cars?  Are we going to camp out and wait for the release of v.2, v.3 of a CAR?  The implications blow my tiny little mind.

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    2 hours ago, ocnblu said:

    I just realized something yuge and even more precarious for the industry we all love.  The electric car mentality is the very same as the cell phone mentality.  Now let me ask you, good citizens, is this really what you want?  To Apple-ize cars?  Are we going to camp out and wait for the release of v.2, v.3 of a CAR?  The implications blow my tiny little mind.

    I think for people who don't care, car sharing, car subscriptions, and various schemes like that will increase. They'll take the place of the CamCordTima crowd.  For the people who do care, there will still be the niche products out there. 

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    I've had some interesting observations over the last couple years when i was looking at used Volts.

    About 18-24 months ago when there was a bunch of lease return Volts, 3 years old etc.... they were getting really cheap in some cases because so many were coming off their lease returns.  The used 2013 with 36,000 miles on the market in mid 2016 was sometimes had for 13,000-14,000.  Here at week one of 2018, if i look at used 2013 Volts and some of them do still have 36,000 miles they are actually going for more money (15 grand plus) for the same car, now 18 months older.

    Leasing electric cars will perpetuate drops in used retail prices but if you time it well and buy one of those 3 year pre owned, I think you will get it for a fair price and after you buy it I don't think you will lose a lot more on depreciation.  I think that will be the sweet spot for ownership on an electric car.

    For leasing new, the problem is california customers will get more incentives offered to them than other parts of the country.  On Volt fourms and places like leasehckr you see many examples where between the extra tax credits and special localized incentives, things like Volts and Bolts can sometimes be had for little down and absurd monthlies.  Like 250 a month zero down and then no gas bill.  Spark EV's towards the end were going close to zero down and 100 a month for places in CA.  Foolish not take advantage of leasing when its like that.

    Edited by regfootball
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    I'll add, Spark EV's used....good buy, as low as 8-9 grand and 30-40k miles in some instances,  just they are only in certain parts of the country to be found.  not bad for 327 lb ft of torque....

    Edited by regfootball

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