From day 1 of this blog, I knew I wanted to post about our decision to buy an electric car, a 2017 Nissan Leaf. Last week I went to a Tesla store to check out what is absolutely my dream car, and to try and convince my parents to buy one. While that hasn’t worked out yet, it spurred me to finally put together a post on the electric car.
Let me begin by saying that 99.9% of the time, someone should buy a used car (unless my parents are reading, in which case buy that new Tesla and I’ll buy it from you used later). In the case of our Leaf, the stars aligned to make buying a new car make sense. One of the keys that made the Leaf more affordable was the state and federal tax credits that we received. These are intended to both support new technology development by making it more affordable for the average consumer and to help push consumers to purchases that support environmental goals. In Colorado, in 2017, this meant that we received a $5,000 state tax credit at the time of purchase and a $7,500 federal tax credit when we filed our taxes for 2017. Not bad to get $12500 off of MSRP without lifting a finger. In addition to the tax credits, Xcel energy (our local energy provider) was offering a deal that took $10,000 off of MSRP, specifically for the Nissan Leaf. They offered this in an effort to push their customers towards electric cars early, giving them time to fully understand and plan for a future where a majority of homes have electric cars tied to the grid.
After going through all of the discounts I had to do some math on what an electric car would cost compared to continuing with my Honda CR-V. Using some assumptions based on actual efficiencies and costs (10,000 miles/year, 25 mpg in the CR-V, 4.5 miles/kwh in the Leaf, $2.50/gallon, and $0.08/kwh), it was relatively easy to build a chart showing me the cost over time of buying the leaf. And yes, I did actually do this before we bought the car. After plotting everything up, it was easy to see that with fuel savings the cost of the car after 10 years was only about $5,000. Then, when you consider that an electric car has much less in terms of maintenance costs than gas cars (only tires and brake pads eventually), the savings become even better. Based on my previous spending on the CR-V, I assumed I would save about $500/year, resulting in a net cost of a couple of hundred dollars after 10 years. At that point, it became an easy decision to buy the Leaf from a purely financial perspective.
You may be asking yourself at this point, “what is that real cost line?”. In a turn of misfortune, or fortune depending on how you look at it, Allyson was backed into while leaving our old condo parking lot about 1 month after we got the car. In exchange for a decent sized dent in our driver’s side front and back doors, we were given $4,200 from the lady’s insurance company. I was able to clean up the dents and scratches pretty well, so in the end we decided to keep the money and pass on fixing the car. It’s a decision that was made a lot easier when you consider our plan is to drive this car for at least 10 years and then either replace the batteries or buy a used car (hopefully a Tesla).
I purposely laid out the financial benefits of buying the Nissan Leaf compared to continuing with my gas powered car, because that should matter to everyone. For Allyson and I, driving electric is a bit more than that. It’s advancing a technology that we believe will be vital for everyone to adopt as soon as possible in order to take care of our planet. We are also able to do our part to reduce emissions in a state and city that needs to be cleaner. About 40% of the power at our house comes from renewable energy, and that’s not to mention the efficiency savings you get when generating power at a plant rather than in an internal combustion engine. And honestly, it’s a ton of fun to drive. It’s got a low center of gravity and the instant torque from the electric motor feels quick and responsive.
The Leaf has been perfect for us, and we are so happy with how it has worked out. It’s pretty roomy with the hatchback design, and we’re able to comfortably fit 5 and drive into the mountains for hikes without any range issues. That being said, I have a dream of one day owning a Tesla. At this point it would be a foolish and overly expensive decision when we have other goals including saving for financial freedom. But in 10 years, those used Teslas will hopefully be more affordable, and Allyson and I will be able to upgrade from our Leaf to the best electric vehicle (or any vehicle) technology that is out there by far.
This week on the coffee tour around the world, Scandinavian Egg Coffee. This recipe consists of 1 egg, a small amount of coffee, and boiling water. It tastes about as good as it sounds. The entire egg gets strained out of the coffee mixture after boiling, which is good I guess. The real problem comes from the weak nature of this drink. There’s just not a lot of flavor, so it ends up tasting pretty watery. If I were to ever make this again I think I’d have to at least double the amount of coffee used in the recipe.