The Nissan Leaf Experiment

In September 2016 I bought a brand-new Nissan Leaf SV with the new 25% bigger battery (30 kWh) This page will keep track of ongoing data, modifications, observations, and such.


A Brief History of the Leaf

As of 2018, the Nissan Leaf is currently in its fourth revision, although mine is a third generation. If you find yourself interested in acquiring one, the right choice depends on your driving requirements and your financial situation. Here’s a quick summary of what happened in each model year:

  • 2011-2012: The first generation came out. Battery capacity was 24 kWh, but this first version was known to very delicate. Heat, age, and heavy use mean that the batteries in this generation are a mixed lot. The battery came with a 5 year/60,000 mile warranty, and you’ll find some on the market that have been upgraded with new batteries. The EPA range estimate was only 73 miles, early drivers reported 80-90. At this point, you can probably expect 60-70 miles per charge on an original generation Leaf (less at speeds over 60 MPH)
  • 2013: The car received about 100 upgrades for the model year. Most notable for me were some battery improvements, a more efficient heating/cooling system, and more trunk space since they cleaned up the layout somewhat. EPA range jumped to 87 miles.
  • 2015: A new battery chemistry known as “the lizard battery” comes out – designed to be more resistant to heat. This should be significant, because many of the earlier Leaf battery problems occurred in places like Phoenix, Arizona with extremely hot weather, or in drivers who had a particularly intense driving cycle (long, high-speed drives and rapid charging tend to heat up the battery).
  • 2016: a new 30kWh battery was added for the more upscale SV and SL trims. The 25% larger capacity should improve both range and lifespan, since you are now using a smaller percentage of the battery’s energy for any given drive. As of Late 2016, you can also get the bigger battery in the S model – an ideal change if your goal is to minimize cost.
  • 2018: A much bigger upgrade! The car got new styling inside and out, the standard battery jumped to 40 kWh (about 150 miles) of capacity, acceleration was upgraded, and miraculously the list price actually dropped slightly. This is the miracle of advancing technology – since batteries are a big part of this car’s price, advancement in batteries goes right down to the price tag.

Current Status and Stories:

April 2023: After almost seven years of nearly perfect experience of owning this car, I am selling it to a local friend. Resale value of the car is about $10.5k right now, which is great given the fact that I paid under $14k for it brand new after all the discounts.

Miles accumulated: about 18,500
Estimated battery health remaining: about 80% (mostly due to age rather than mileage)
Problems, maintenance or repairs with the car: Zero

Overall thoughts: the Leaf is still the perfect car for anybody who does errands, kid shuttling, or commuting with a round-trip distance of less than 60 miles (further if you have access to any sort of charger or even a standard power outlet at work).

I am shocked that this car didn’t catch on more than it did, because it’s absolutely the ultimate vehicle for 95% of typical car use. It’s fast, quiet, handles well, and holds lots of people and stuff.

Nowadays, if you can find a 2016 or newer Leaf for this price range, or a used Chevrolet Bolt with 250 miles of range for under $15k, or get your hands on a new one (under $20k after tax credits), it’s still the best deal in electric car driving if the range meets your needs.

December 2016: As the fall and winter came, I started seeing lower range on my car, which is normal in cold temperatures.

But I wondered if mine was worse than average, because in summer it could easily do 110 miles on the highway,  whereas at 15 degrees F I ran out of juice after only 78 miles (I stubbornly ignored the low battery warning and actually ran flat while waiting at an intersection. Had to call the slow-but-free Nissan towing service to get the remaining 8 miles home.)

On top of that, my car’s estimate of its own battery health was dropping much faster than expected. After 18 months of ownership, it had already lost 15% of its capacity, even with only 4500 miles on the odometer!

So I did a bunch of testing at different temperatures, comparisons to other new Leafs, etc.

Final Diagnosis: Initially, it looked grim: I presented my charts and graphs data to Nissan, but it’s such a big and bureaucratic company that I got nowhere.

While they had a good heart in trying to support me in the investigation, I found that very few people higher up in the company know anything about electric cars. Even with the high profile of this blog and frequent reposting of my earlier article by the MarketWatch newspaper, I wasn’t able to talk to a single Nissan engineer to find my technical answers.

This is a notable contrast to Tesla, where people who work on the cars and the Supercharger network actually read these articles and send me emails proactively. A great practice for reaching your true fans – hint, hint. 

The Nissan Leaf is still the bargain of the electric car world and has a great, practical cargo and passenger space, so it’s hard not to like it. But it’s hard to like Nissan itself.  I’d feel much better about supporting Tesla, if I were willing to burn that much money on a car!

But here’s the good news:

My car turned out to be fine after all. A year after ignoring my reports to them (and even unnecessarily replacing some brand-new packs under warranty!) Nissan discovered a software bug in their battery management system and issued a warranty recall. I got it reprogrammed at the local dealer at no charge, and this was the result.

Figure 1: My Leaf battery seemed to degrade by about 15% just the first 4500 miles (18 months). But in retrospect, it was just a software bug. Really, it might be declining about 2.5% per year and it’s age rather than mileage. This figure wouldn’t change much under more normal use patterns (like 12000 miles per year instead of my 2500)

Still, the car really should have a battery heater like GM and Tesla electric cars do, which would boost winter range drastically.

On the other hand, used Leafs are incredibly affordable and they are everywhere. Still a great car year-round and if you have a gas-powered commute, you owe it to yourself to test drive one of these things.

It’s a night and day difference in how pleasant and fun the driving experience can be. Gas cars are so doomed.

  • Tom October 4, 2016, 12:33 pm

    Hi MMM, I’ll be reading this with lots of interest. I currently drive a hybrid (Prius C) but am interested in the new wave of EVs. As a resident of Quebec I’d be interested in how things go when it gets to -20C outside (-4F). One thing I’ve always wondered is why developers of EVs are going the route of re-charging batteries rather than just swapping them out (i.e. a quick change at a battery station rather than a gas station). Thanks

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 4, 2016, 1:15 pm

      Probably because DC charging is already really fast (and you rarely need it). Meanwhile, battery swapping would open up a whole can of logistics worms.

  • Phil October 4, 2016, 6:24 pm

    I notice that here in Idaho, there is an increase in the registration for an electric car. $140 in our case to supposedly offset the tax not paid for fuel consumption. There is also an annual fee of $75. Here in Idaho registering a gas motor vehicle is something like $60-$75 a year. Still cheaper overall but they are Making it less attractive.

    • Sophia October 14, 2016, 11:54 am

      Since EV’s use roads, it makes sense that owners would need to cover their share of road maintenance and upkeep. Certainly $65/year is much cheaper than the equivalent portion of gas taxes you’d pay with a gasoline-fueled car.

      • Mr. Money Mustache October 15, 2016, 6:54 pm

        Yeah, it’s definitely fair to have us drivers pay for the roads. However, I sure wish we did it on a per-mile basis, and that we drivers funded 100% of the roads based on how much we drive, rather than depending partly on income/property/sales taxes to subsidize driving.

        Gasoline taxes were a good stab at this, because they generally scale up along with vehicle size and how much you drive. But since the mid-2000s we have had a much better option we are just not using yet: a simple measurement of your exact use, with a multiplier for vehicle weight/size and even congestion pricing. We could even charge cyclists as appropriate, although their rate would be 90% cheaper than a compact car.

        With this pricing we’d have an economist’s dream of a beautiful free-market system that made our entire city setup more efficient, and we’d get lower tax rates as a secondary reward.

        • Greg A. July 13, 2017, 4:54 pm

          As a civil engineer I have to say that the damage on the roads increases exponentially with the load of the vehicle (total weight divided by number of wheels etc.). A heavy truck driving around your neighborhood causes more damage than your car causes in a few months of daily road usage.

      • omer f acikel July 16, 2019, 4:24 pm

        Hi Sophia, what you are forgetting is the fact that EV does not run on air, it uses electricity and I am sure once a growing trend become more of a main stream, there will be extra electricity charges in forms of tax.

        I own 2015 Nissan Leaf and live in San Diego. Our local electric supplier, SDG&E, already offers different pricing for EV owners. For now, it is more towards managing the electricity load since electricity is source of many things at home and work and EVs are more common.

        I would like to add that considering the clean maintenance of an EV, as compare to an ICE (internal Combustion Engine) vehicle’s regular oil/fluid changes etc., I say EV owners already helping.

        Mr. MM I am about to get ready to use my Leaf as battery pack for expected electricity shut-downs to prevent wild fires in southern CA. I will keep you posted! I already purchased pure sinusoid converter (1000W, 2000W surge-1sec peak power). Getting ready to test gradual increase in power appliance usage.

  • Doron October 4, 2016, 11:07 pm

    I (and many others) have tapped into the Leaf traction battery indirectly by using an inverter connected through the DC-DC converter, which is accessible under the hood. Using this setup I was able to power my fridge for several hours when we lost power in 2012 during a hurricane. See for a description of such a setup. However, I haven’t tapped the High Voltage DC battery directly, which is what I suspect MMM is asking.

    • Brian October 17, 2016, 2:47 pm

      Follow your link; interesting description.

      If MMM wants to power his house from the Leaf battery, the simplest (and maybe even least costly) solution might be to use the Leaf as a “generator,” as you did during the Hurricane, to charging a small bank (maybe 2-4) of stationary, off-grid lead-acid batteries. The leaf’s 1kW production would probably be enough to continuously power the loads in the house and avoid any substantial discharge of the lead-acid batteries — with this low depth-of-discharge, modern off-grid lead-acid batteries could be expected to last at least 20 years.

      Meanwhile, the off-grid batteries would effectively serve as a small auxiliary power backup unit at home (to augment the Leaf), but more importantly, they would act as a high-current-capable intermediary between the Leaf and the house, to power whatever peaks and startup loads the house demands.

      Any setup of this sort would require a high-power, off-grid-capable inverter, rather than the microinverters MMM has previously mentioned for his solar setup. Outback (and others) make inverters which are “smart” enough to be either grid-tied or off-grid.

      Another consideration: tapping directly into the Leaf’s battery would almost certainly void the warranty, and might destroy the battery and brick the car if you end up bypassing the Leaf’s battery management system. Not to mention the physical danger of messing around with 360VDC and plenty of amperage to boot. That thing could probably vaporize a crescent wrench. Tapping only into the traction battery presents a lower risk of battery damage, warranty issues, and untimely demise.

  • Emil October 5, 2016, 3:11 am

    Nissan showcased the vehicle-to-house electricity system in Japan back in 2011-2012 when I was doing my thesis on smart grids and electric vehicles. Not sure what happened to that since then or how they priced it but they still have it on their website, might be useful for you: .

    • Ernie December 29, 2016, 8:24 pm

      I know what happened to this. It’s too expensive. I can’t find any hard numbers through Google, but I recall estimated costs in the tens of thousands of dollars.

      When you can get a Honda generator for a couple thousand bucks, it just doesn’t make sense.

      • Mr. Money Mustache January 11, 2017, 1:07 pm

        Cool idea. I think they over-engineered it though, which led to high expense. All I want is a plug that clicks into the 360 volt battery (heck, let’s throw in a safety fuse too), and I’ll take it from there.

        I can connect that to a 360VDC -> 240VAC inverter, and plug that output right into a 50 amp breaker that feeds my main power panel. When I want to disconnect the Leaf and go back to mainline power, I flip off the 50 amper and flip the main 150 amp back on.

        The problem with electricity-saving ideas is that they need to be REALLY cheap, because they are competing with electricity itself, which is incredibly cheap in most places.

  • The Big Monkey October 5, 2016, 4:46 am

    This might be of interest with respect to battery life.

    I work within the automotive industry. We are finding that the battery packs in some of our test vehicles are lasting much longer than we initially thought.

  • theFIREstarter October 5, 2016, 8:15 am

    Hi MMM,

    Great to see you taking the plunge on an EV, I’ve read about them extensively over the last year and am at a point where I want to buy one although realistically have not got the Net Worth to justify it. My plan is probably just to wait till the Model 3 comes out as that looks to cover any range anxiety plus I should have a bit more cash in the bank by then as well.

    One thing maybe other readers can help me with, in Europe there are many roads where people do not have a garage nor even a driveway. It’s all just on street parking (and it’s a total free for all). Surely there are many inner city places in the USA like this as well? What are people doing who are in this situation? I read one comment on the main blog post about an incentive for a free parking space if you installed your own on street charger but that seemed like a pretty niche solution to the problem, especially when more and more EVs are being bought (not everyone can have their own free space/charging station!). I know Uber + driverless technology will ultimately mean far less cars are needed but in the transition where people struggle to get their heads around that I think there will be a large demand for EVs and places to park/charge them where there are currently none.

    Can you charge a car on street with a very long lead to your house? Surely this is a trip hazard/dangerous?! What about people in flats/apartments/Shared housing who park on street?

    What are peoples thoughts on the logistics of this?

    Is the answer just as simple as when demand is there the local authorities will install on street charging points? (A fair answer but one that doesn’t help us right now)


    • Optimist October 5, 2016, 12:59 pm

      Here in The Netherlands, people that do not have their own driveway usually charge their cars at public charging stations. There are many different systems and depending on the type of car, you may be able to use the super quick charging stations that will charge a Renault Zoe to 80% capacity within 30 minutes. The quick charge stations are often provided by fuel stations along highways.

      Within towns and cities, there are usually plenty of charging stations available. Some offer nice incentives such as free parking in the city center while charging. Many public parking garages and parking lots next to office buildings also offer charging stations.

      Using a smart card, one can charge at those stations and will be invoiced once a month.

      Hope this helps!

    • Ben Kurtz October 6, 2016, 6:15 am

      In London, I have noticed an increasing number of dedicated curbside charging stations in residential areas. They look like retro-futuristic parking meters with cords, plugs and blinking lights, and the curbside parking space next to such a charger is specially signposted for time-limited EV parking / charging. This solution relies on vandals not destroying the equipment late at night, which might not be a given in every city.

      I’ve also noticed dedicated curbside spaces marked for Zipcar and other car-sharing clubs.

      Between people who charge at work, charge at the grocery store (it’s rare, but an increasing number of big-box parking lots have this), charge at highway or gas station fast chargers, and charge at curbside stations, it’s feasible to get a good fraction of a neighborhood that relies mainly on street parking into electric cars.

      There’s the usual chicken-and-egg problem of building new infrastructure to support a new product before the product is in mass use, or trying to sell a product to the masses before the full public infrastructure is ready to support it, but that’s nothing new. People with garages and private driveways lead the way, and now that EVs are mainstream more cities and customer-facing businesses are building infrastructure.

    • Ernie December 29, 2016, 8:28 pm

      You don’t have to charge your car at home. You can charge it at work, for example. Or in public parking garages near your destination, etc.

      There’s a website that shows you where you can charge:

    • ChicagoVolt September 9, 2019, 1:45 pm

      Chicago actually allows garage/driveway space for one car per home, so this isn’t as much of an issue here. For people without a garage, there are many commercial parking garages that offer a few hours of free charging with paid parking. Many parking garages also offer free low voltage wall outlet charging. There are also chargers available at shopping centers, at various prices for use. Honestly, unless you have a long commute outside of the city, you can easily get by without a personal high voltage charging station at your apartment complex. It does reduce convenience, and I would support a way for more charging infrastructure and availability, even if it was just low voltage.

      • Mr. Money Mustache September 9, 2019, 3:38 pm

        And also, in most cases dense enough to have apartments, no driveways, and limited street parking, you probably don’t even need your own car! Chicago for example is no fun at ALL to drive in the dense areas, but the biking and transit is great.

  • Tony October 6, 2016, 5:20 pm

    Can you elaborate more on the 7500$ tax credit. I believe that if your income tax is less than 7500$ you wont get a full credit on your Nissan Leaf or do they automatically deduct it from the sticker price now a days?

    • Bill December 30, 2019, 1:54 am

      You must have the tax in the year you wish to use the credit. One of the ways to use it is to do a Roth Conversion. $7500 in tax still keeps an under-65 married couple in the lower tax brackets (currently 12% with about $90K AGI – up to $103K+ is still 12%). However, another way to use the credit without accruing the tax is to lease the car. The credit is built into the lease payments, making them lower by the credit amount.

  • Frank October 18, 2016, 9:17 am

    Re: using it as a Powerwall – check out Leaf to Home, Nissan offered that in Japan.

  • R. Fried November 2, 2016, 12:49 pm


    Saw the posting on marketwatch.
    Am use to a large car, Grand Marquie.
    Wonder how the ride in a Leaf would feel comparatively.
    Will inquire at our local dealer on Long Island to see what price they come up with.
    Dont think New York has a program.

  • Tim West November 4, 2016, 6:20 pm

    I sent your info to my friend Mike Kot who went out and found that CT doesn’t have the same discounts:

    Here’s his reply.

    “I stopped by Miller NIssan. I compared the article price to their price. See the differences:

    Miller Difference
    Article Nissan Price vs article
    sticker price from car window 35445 35999 554
    Dealer Fee 600 687 87
    Assorted Discounts from dealer -4500 4500
    Hard to explain discount Nissan finance -6000 -3500 2500
    Federal Tax Credit -7500 -7500 0
    State tax credit -4653 -3000 1653
    13392 22686 9294

    The article showed a price of $13,392 as compared to MIller’s price of $22,686. Miller did not give a $4500 discount on the car. I didn’t ask for it either.

    The finance company was only offering $3500 not the $6,000. Those are the two biggest takeaways. The two add up to $7,000. I would do it if MIller would give me the same discount from the dealer and the discount from the finance company financing the vehicle.

    You can’t do anything about the difference in the state tax credit.

    Good luck, but this wasn’t realistic in CT.


    • Mr. Money Mustache November 4, 2016, 7:25 pm

      Wow, pretty big difference and thanks for sharing it Tim.

      I have heard from quite a few people around the US at this point. Some are finding that their Nissan dealer will match the price I got here in Boulder.

      For those that do not, several ended up calling Boulder Nissan and getting the sale done through Nigel Zeid – he said in some cases has been cheaper for him to ship the Leaf to the customer, versus paying more at an East Coast dealer.

      This is obviously a less than optimal solution – since the purpose of this car is to stop burning gas, it’s a little sad to put it on a diesel truck and drive it across the country any more than necessary. So if you are finding good deals on the Leaf in your area, please share the dealership name here and readers can find the closest location to them.

      • Megan Springle November 5, 2016, 10:29 am

        My husband and I bought a 2015 Leaf from The car was delivered yesterday, and even though we don’t get a tax credit because the car is used, we got a great price. We paid $10650-ish including all taxes and fees. The car has just over 19,000 miles on it. For anyone looking for a good price on a Leaf and open to buying used, I would definitely recommend checking out Carvana.

      • la femme farmer November 6, 2016, 11:47 pm

        We just purchased a leaf sv today in Washington state (Advantage Nissan – Bremerton). We had been talking about getting an ev for awhile but after reading your earlier post we were inspired to take the plunge. Thanks for sharing your research and experience!
        This was our experience:
        Msrp $35420
        Sticker $34179
        Dealer discounts $2140
        Financing rebate $4000
        WA tax incentive – no sales tax on ev = $2800 savings
        No dealer handling fees (but there was a $150 document fee and a $123.25 gov’t fee)
        No extra insurance required
        We are also getting 2 years of free charging which I think is around $1200 in value
        Plus we will get the $7500 federal tax credit

        Not as great of a deal as yours, but I think it’s pretty close. Regardless – we are pretty happy.

    • Jill_the_Pill January 23, 2017, 1:07 pm

      We just bought an electric kia soul in CT, and kia’s total discount was $7500, making the total discount $18k off the $34k sticker. $5000 one-pay lease today, 11,500 due in 3 years if we keep it. No fees (or rather, fees already included in those numbers).

  • Linda Morehouse November 5, 2016, 8:34 am

    Hi MMM!

    I am a retired (at the expected age!) pharmacist living on the Western Slope of Colorado. I have been a fan of electric energy since the 70’s and finally was able to add solar to my roof in 2011. I drove a Prius for 10 years. I am fighting with Xcel regarding their proposed restructuring of electric charges which will discourage solar and have us burning more coal.

    My question for you is about the cost of repairs to your new electric car. I found the Prius to be very expensive to repair and only the dealer was trained to repair these kinds of cars. What are the costs like for the Leaf?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 18, 2016, 12:27 pm

      Hi Linda,

      I’m surprised to hear that about your Prius experience – in general their reputation is being more reliable than average and simple to service. The majority of the car (engine, brakes, suspension, etc.) is conventional and any mechanic can work on those parts.

      The electric motor is unusual but rarely if ever breaks. Battery replacements are the only part that are little overpriced because they are typically done at the dealer ($2000), and some of the 2004s are starting to require it. For hobbyists, however, the battery is easy to DIY repair and a friend of mine just did it for only a few hundred.

      The Leaf is even simpler than the Prius, and although it is too early to determine true reliability, results dating back to 2011 are looking good so far: everything is solid except possibly the 2011-era batteries.

    • james October 3, 2017, 7:55 am

      If the costs have been battery related it is usually the dealers shotgun approach of replacing the entire battery. Lots of people have “fixed” a dead cell with a 79 cent connector and couple of hours of time.

      This has created a boutique business where people come and do a full swap in exchange for keeping your old battery. $800 vs $2000. They basically salvage what they can and then put it into one fully functioning batter pack.

      All the other costs are truly just dealers being an expensive place to get service. Its basically a fancy corolla so all the engine and brake parts should be affordable

  • Ryan November 5, 2016, 12:31 pm

    I liked the article. I started looking into seeing how I can go about doing the same thing. Yes they still have the 7500 rebate but, I’m having trouble finding info on that tax credit. Calling the IRS was useless and their website just had unclear language. Any suggestions on how to find that info? I’m talking to a sales rep but he admits to not knowing either. I hate car payments but it may be time since my wife has a long round trip commute that makes this worth it.

  • JO November 7, 2016, 10:59 am

    I just leased a LEAF S with 30kWh battery ($34k total MSRP) from North Bay Nissan in Petaluma, CA.

    I traded a 2013 Nissan Rogue and got $870 in credit after the remaining loan was paid off. $214/month for 36 months/36k miles. Residual value after the lease will be $9511.

    I will be getting $2500 from the CA state rebate and another $3000 from a local county rebate. Plus a free level 2 charger and up to $1000 rebate for install costs.

    Total cost, if I end up purchasing after lease:
    $870 (trade in credit, covers 1st payment and other charges)
    +$7,490 ( $214 x 35 monthly payments)
    +$9,511 (residual)
    +$808 (tax on residual)


    -$2,500 CA state rebate
    -$3,000 local rebate

    =$13,179 out of my pocket

    Additionally we will be saving in fuel costs and having lower monthly car payments. I still haven’t seen what the new insurance payment will be, but we were under-insured and that has now been corrected as well.

  • Jackson M November 10, 2016, 9:26 am

    Hey M,

    I’m pretty excited to learn what you find out as I bought a used 2013 model off of Carvana.

    Have you done anything yet to understand the true cost/mile? It almost feels free to me to drive the thing (I get 1kwh for $.06), but I know there are other factors too (tires, battery, wiper blades, little tree air fresheners)

  • Justin Williams November 11, 2016, 3:24 pm

    Pulled the trigger on this deal myself in California, and essentially got the same deal MMM did. Pretty awesome, thanks for the tip!

    I have a 110 mile round trip commute three days a week, and I’ve learned some interesting things:
    1. While DC fast is convenient, it’s a bit of a catch 22, as it charges so fast that it’s not practical to leave and come back to unplug and let someone else come in (considered courteous by EV drivers). I’ve also read it’s not great for battery longevity. Level 2 chargers are great.
    2. Charging at home isn’t a no brainer. You need to make sure you have a circuit near the car that doesn’t have other load on it. I first plugged in in my garage, but that circuit was being used by too many other things, so I ended up having to plug in my house and run the wire out through my garage. Also, extension cords can be a challenge. DON’T just grab any extension cord, you need one that will handle the load, not heat up and catch fire.
    3. There’s a perception that EVs are not “fast.” The LEAF accelerates very quickly.
    4. EV drivers need to be more away of people nearby. The car doesn’t make a lot of noise, so people don’t perceive it as much. The LEAF has a backup beeper for this reason.

  • Martin Cappa November 25, 2016, 2:31 pm

    Mr. Money Mustache,
    How about owning the Leaf if you are renting an apartment in Brooklyn NY ? Are there charging stations accessible?
    And is it true I can charge in 30 minutes at some stations?


    Martin Cappa

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 11, 2017, 1:12 pm

      Hi Martin, I don’t know much about Brooklyn, but I have a friend named Google who probably does ;-)

      If you search for “EV charging stations in Brooklyn” on google maps, you’ll see some.
      Also, look at

      And yes, the Nissan Leaf can charge in 30 minutes at any “Chademo” DC fast charging station. Many Nissan dealers have ones you can use for free, and there are networks of them all up the East Coast now along the interstates.

  • Christopher Gioconda November 25, 2016, 5:42 pm

    Saw this blog post linked from an article on Yahoo.

    Recently I thought long and hard about purchasing a 2016 Nissan Leaf SV (which has the 30kwh battery standard). Ultimately the dealer talked me out of an outright purchase and into a lease.

    The rationale actually makes sense: at the end of a lease I’d have paid approx 13k all said and done, and can upgrade to a 2019 Leaf (which will very likely have a much more powerful battery) and not be stuck with a 2016 model with 39000 miles that would have a very low resale value.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 11, 2017, 1:14 pm

      True, leasing is a not-all-that-bad option for electric cars, if you drive a lot and want to upgrade frequently.

      Just to compare the math, I’m paying about $15k all said, and based on the current used market, it will be worth about $10k in 3 years. So I would have a depreciation cost of only $5000 vs. the quoted lease price of $13k.

      • Stephen January 12, 2017, 9:13 am

        “True, leasing is a not-all-that-bad option for electric cars, if you drive a lot and want to upgrade frequently.”

        Isn’t the if a really big if there, though? Like, “If you’re going to take a face punch, this one at least won’t break your nose” type of thing?

        I mean, from the lifestyle/green perspective, the electric cars are much better than their gas equivalents. But it still takes a lot of resources to build, ship and sell the car. And from a financial perspective, you’re talking about an extra 28K+ per decade. If your car lasts you 10 years you’ve spent 15k, he spends just over 43k with his 13k/3 year lease. At 8% interest that’s 43k in lost investments. Not to mention we have an additional 2,800/year “habit” so to speak, which at the 4% SWR takes an extra 70k in retirement.

        I certainly waste a lot of money I don’t need to, btw. So I’m not trying to attack you Chris. And I know that the lease would have less/0 maintenance, which would lower my assumptions. I just have this big big big thing against frequent and leased car purchases.

        • Mr. Money Mustache January 17, 2017, 10:07 am

          Yup – and if $43,000 per decade makes a difference in your life’s financial plans, you should probably move much further down the automotive ladder and also cut the driving mostly out of your life. As I love to repeat, a car is is not just transportation, it’s a luxury climate-controlled racing world touring toy/pod. If you need more money, spend less on toys.

  • Gary Justice November 26, 2016, 3:10 pm

    Saw this blog and thought I’d add to it. I own a 2014 Leaf SV. I just crossed 15,000 miles of driving in Scottsdale Az. .
    It’s a great car. Roomy quiet and fun to drive if you put it in regular mode. I always drive in eco mode.

    Problems: none 1 recalls software on the ABS…1 hour

    The issue that can easily be solved. The 16 inch tires on previous models are pretty bad. I’m about to change them. I will go plus one and put 17in wheels with Goodyear tires. Total cost $ 1,000 with road hazard.

    So far I have not lost any bars (out of 12) but I don’t have the rapid charger. However, as stated, I charge my Leaf off my solar panels ever day. I have a 12.2 KWH system from Solar City that powers my house and the car with some leftover at certain times. I have ordered two (2) Powerwall batteries from Tesla..expect them Spring 2017.

    I have questioned Nissan about a battery swap and they have said no…the 30kwh is a different design than the 24KWH that I have, so if I want better range, then I have to swap the car.

    Overall, great car to tool around town and go short trips. Yes, charging stations are popping up all over the place.
    I never get range anxiety anymore.

    This is the future. I have already ordered a Tesla Model 3…can’t wait

    The new 2016 SV and SL get 17 in wider tires..huge improvement to ride and handling.

  • Gary Justice November 26, 2016, 3:15 pm

    more… the 2016 SV and SL versions get huge improvements to info system with text messaging and better info…

    If you have the SL model with the little solar panel on the lip of the roof, it only powers the dashboard..It is not connected to the battery. It should be !!!

    and for 2017 you can get the 30KWH battery in all versions starting with the S…

  • DavidDiaz November 26, 2016, 3:18 pm

    I want to buy an Ev vehicle, I understand that once a care car manufacturer sells over 200,000 EV cars that the $7500 credit is no longer available. Hopefully, the new administration will extend that credit but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Gary Justice November 26, 2016, 3:20 pm


    The lease is the right way to go for two reasons:

    1: You don’t have top worry about re-sale

    2. The $ 7,500 tax CREDIT can only be used in 1 year, so u need to be in a high enough bracket to claim it. It is NON refundable….

    So at just under $ 300.00 per month on a SV that pretty good.

    In Az you pay only $ 31.00 per year in tags, etc and you get HOV access at all times. Plus good parking while you charge it….

  • Sam A November 26, 2016, 11:09 pm

    Thanks for posting this. My 2004 Toyota Corolla was hit while it was parked today. Since it’s most likely totaled I will likely have to get a new commuter for when I’m not biking. I’ve been thinking about an electric car for a while now, but haven’t had the opportunity to check into it. It looks like Oregon doesn’t have as nice of an incentive as Colorado, but I can probably get the $7,500 from Federal, 4,000 from the dealer and $750 from the state. Plus I’ll try to get that deal on the financing.

    I’ll be checking back!

  • Paul KC November 27, 2016, 5:30 pm

    I’m on the fence, there is a great discount here in KC ( that along with the Fed credit and Nissan financing replicated the MMM deal. I’ve been hanging on to my 98 Civic, mostly since it sits in the drive while I bike to work. Still, hard to pass on this deal and get with the modern era of transit. My concern is, does NOT driving the car have negative effects? My typical week, I only drive 1-2 times, and maybe put 3000 miles/year. Does the car lose charge if left for many days, or have any other potential issues?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2016, 10:22 am

      Hey Paul,

      Financially speaking, a Leaf (or any new-ish car) is a huge money pit if you don’t need to drive much – because the biggest cost is in the depreciation, registration fees, insurance, and cost of capital. Your strategy of an older car and a bike will keep you much wealthier.

      This is true for me too – I bought the Leaf as a way to share the results with readers, but would NOT have bought one if I was in your situation.

      The car loses only very negligible charge when left unattended.. maybe 1% per week or so. This is no big deal, because you can just recharge it. But that big, expensive battery is going to degrade by roughly 0.5% per month just from old age, which is a much bigger cost. After 10-15 years, the battery will probably need a complete replacement.

      Solution: old Civic for very light drivers. Used $8000 Leaf for frequent, local commuting. Brand new Leaf for frequent driver people who need longer range and can afford the luxury, or those with spare money who want to support the world’s transition away from gasoline.

    • John D December 5, 2016, 9:30 pm

      Really on the fence on this one too after reading about the deal for those of us in KC. Hard to pass up but not sure if I really can justify it. We could replace our Legacy and feel better about our impact on the world but financially it doesn’t make sense unless we were actually in the market for a new car anyway.

  • Will Quigley December 1, 2016, 10:13 pm

    Great article(s) on the Leaf. I also drive a 2016 Leaf SV, leased mainly because I was so disgusted by my Fährfrumlegal VW Touareg TDI “cheater”. A few comments: first, the true Mustachian way to go is to buy or lease the car in a state where electricity is really expensive, at a time when gas is really cheap (like right now). I leased mine in California in April. PG&E has a monopoly in California and electricity prices there are absurd. So it’s harder to sell electric cars. But I live in Seattle, where we have public utilities and electricity is basically free. Not to mention that it’s 95% hydro, so I’m powering my car by rainwater (and we have plenty). The $700 it cost to ship the car from CA to WA is more than offset by the savings. At the time the best deal on a lease in WA was around $270/month and mine is costing me $170/month. Nissan tunes local prices to reflect the cost of charging. I also favor leasing vs. buying for electric cars because the tech is changing insanely fast right now. I walk away from my car in 2.5 years, but in that time it’s probably as obsolete as the Aston Martin I saw today.
    I find that the stock tires, while wide and low-profile, are still pretty crappy, and I break loose all the time. Partly because I hammer the gas, because it’s just so much fun. (Isn’t it odd how we still call it the “gas pedal?”) Google the Leaf vs. Porsche skid pad test and you will see that with good tires, it can pull almost as much G-force as a 911.
    Re: music. Why don’t you use Bluetooth? I thought it was standard in the SV.
    I brought mine in for “service” last month, because it’s required by the lease. The tech hands me a big page full of checkboxes, none of which were checked: oil, brake pads, lubes. It was kind of funny. I do find that nobody in the dealerships knows or cares about these cars, even though every other car on their lot is utterly obsolete.
    As other posters mentioned, you might want to replace Prius in your car buying chart with Volt. The Prius is an obsolete gas-powered car with a modest fuel economy optimization. The Volt is a limited-range electric car with a gas backup.
    I’m curious to hear the results of your Uber experiment. I’ve been thinking about doing it myself. We have enough ChaDeMo in Seattle that downtime would be minimal.

    • Jim May 18, 2017, 10:54 am

      MMM, looking forward to your Leaf reports. What L@ charger did you purchase?

      As a dealer what incentive do they have to sell EV’s outside of those from the automaker? Dealerships make the most profit off service and parts dept (, used cars and extended warranties. EV’s require no oil changes, spark plugs, belts, exhaust systems, etc.

      I purchased a used 2014 Leaf SV a few months ago (w/ 8.7k miles for $9.8k). My sales guy suggested I talk to their Leaf technician since he understood my appreciation of the Leaf. The tech seemed to know his stuff. He worked for the dealer for 31 years. He said he rarely works on Leafs as there is so little to do. He recommended a break fluid flush every few years and to clean the calipers/brakes yearly if you live in a snowy climate with salt. The Leaf brakes get so little use due to regen you don’t want the calipers to freeze up. He also reommended running a battery tender on the 12v battery one a month. My plan is to hook up my battery tender one night every weekend just to keep it on a schedule. The SL’s have the solar panel for this job.

      I’m already sold on EVs and will never purchase another ICE car. I’m hoping our 07 Prius with 105k will serve us until we can move to an EV with 250 mi of range that makes longer range drives (around 120-180 miles) with recharging to get back home) possible. For rare longer trip just rent an ICE car.

      Considering the used 98 Camry I drove for 13 years and 72k miles, the 14 Leaf is a wonderful replacement.

      As another aside, I estimated the cost-per-mile of the Camry at $.43 and the Prius 10 years out at $.31 CPM. This is just cost of the car, maintenance and fuel.

  • ArmyColonelK December 3, 2016, 9:34 am

    Having just put 32 SunPower PV panels on my Kailua roof, I’m now looking at EVs. When I read MMM’s initial Leaf post, and the amazing price he got, I immediately thought it sounded like a great option, especially considering that life in the Islands usually (though not always) doesn’t involve driving more than 100 miles in a day. Plus, if MMM bought one, it seemed a given that it would be a wise financial decision.

    However, Hawaii has no EV tax break, and it seems like the big $6000 finance deal is only available if you are a famous financial blogger! So much for that deal.

    Add the fact that the Leaf – at least MMM’s – has very significant range issues and I’m not so sure it is the car for me. There are few things that I’d enjoy less than stressing out while driving home with a battery indicator at 0%. Kudos to Ms. MM for doing it, but it doesn’t sound like fun to me. And running out of juice at 78 miles is an absolute fail.

    Has anyone seen a Chevy Bolt yet? They look sharp and practical, with far better range than a Leaf. But I’m a bit leery of being a very early adopter. And while I could buy a Tesla S – and they are super duper cool – it simply isn’t a car that I want to surf from. Getting back in a Tesla S, covered in sand and salt water would just be a sin. Whereas a Chevy, even a new EV Chevy, is still just transportation and not a work of art.

    What does everyone think about the Bolt?

    • Andy December 17, 2016, 8:41 am

      Chevy has a reputation for better, liquid-cooled batteries that last much longer than a Leaf’s. I think a Bolt or a Volt would be good.

    • RecoveringCarClown December 20, 2016, 10:15 am

      MotorTrend named the Bolt it’s 2017 car of the year. You can read all about it in the Jan issue. Bottom line is 238mi range for less than $30k after rebates and a 0-60 in 6.3 sec with an 8yr/100k warranty on the battery. The level 3 charger will give you 90mi in 30min, 160mi in an hour and a full charge in 2 hours. I have to stop writing about it now before I convince myself I need one!

      • ArmyColonelK January 6, 2017, 1:33 pm

        RCC – thanks for the Motor Trend pointer. I will definitely convince myself that “research” in the form of reading a car article is time well spent.

        Love your username, btw. I’m a total RCC myself!

  • Mortimer December 20, 2016, 5:06 am

    Initially I was considering a used Volt, but this post convinced me to buy a new Leaf. Glad I went with 100% electric. Overall very satisfied with the Leaf. I thought I was an educated buyer but only after making the investment did I read enough to realize how little I knew. If you are considering a Leaf, here are some things your salesman won’t tell you:

    • Mr. Money Mustache December 20, 2016, 2:27 pm

      Hmm – my leaf salesmen told me all of that stuff, at least the parts that are correct.

      A few examples of things they got wrong:

      the Leaf actually depreciates very slowly, but the market adjusts for tax credits: I paid $13-14k for mine, and used 2013-2014s with a smaller battery go on Craigslist for $10-12k.

      The 240 volt charger (6.6 kW) charges the battery at 30 MPH, or 0-100% in 5 hours, not 12 miles and 8 hours as stated.

      Level 1 charging is only insufficient if you drive more than about 60 miles a day and never encounter any public chargers. Level 2 chargers are under $300 on Amazon (although installation will indeed vary – often free with a tax credit).

      And so on.

  • Kevin December 25, 2016, 6:35 pm


    How have you been charging your leaf on a regular basis? I had my used ’13 leaf drop 3% SOH in 1.5mo, 90% to 87% over the summer. Once I finally installed my L2 EVSE at home and started charging nightly with that instead of L1, my SOH went back up. 87% at the end of October to 91% just a few days ago on Dec 22. So my battery is actually in better shape than when I bought it at 90% back in June. I’m told that this is just better battery cell balancing with the higher charge rate. I’ve heard that sometimes using a DC quick charger can have similar effects. I’d encourage you to post this over in the mynissanleaf forum and see what the group thinks about your SOH vs mileage and your charging habits.

    • Kevin February 28, 2017, 10:20 am

      @MMM, have you tried DC charging and seeing what happens to your SOH? Looks like you’ve had some warm weather in the past week or two. Has that changed your SOH? Almost 38,000 miles on our ’13 SV LEAF and 91% SOH. 10,000 miles in about 6 months of ownership.

  • yves December 29, 2016, 11:11 am

    thanks for sharring your story… very little distance in km on all your example ? NISSAN salesman like to push thory of 200km range with the 30kwh … truth is 100km range in winter :-20degC,no heating,20kmh wind facing,keep 20km range as buffer=this lead to 100km range !
    24kwh worst range = 80 km (keeping 20km buffer)
    30kwh worst range = 100km (keeping 20km buffer)
    this what NISSAN salesman should say !

  • Fabien December 29, 2016, 12:21 pm

    Hello, you may have a weak cell. You should do the cvli test at low charge to see any weaker cell.

  • Koots Chewt December 29, 2016, 2:10 pm

    We’ve had our Leaf 2.5 years now and have found it to be reliable and cheap to run. Lots more info and vids on my blog.

    With regards to your comments on your battery capacity – I have found it to be variable, depending on various factors, including recent charging and driving behaviour. Your battery might not be getting enough “exercise” to show how good it still is. Often a lower mileage car will improve SOH once driven and quick charged for a few weeks. I have a fairly static routine, so my swings in SOH seem to be related to ambient conditions.

    You can read more on that, with graphs, at my last cost update post.


  • No Pants Money Man December 30, 2016, 9:50 pm

    Hi MMM,

    Sorry to hear about your battery troubles. I’ve been reading up on battery technology and keeping tabs on electric transport tech in my spare time.

    If you’ve got a spare 45 minutes, I think you would find it very informative to watch this lecture by Professor Jeff Dahn of Dalhousie University (watch it on 1.25 speed, he talks slow). –

    If you don’t have the time – just watch the video for 5 minutes from this time point:

    Essentially, what his research has found is that the battery chemistry of the Nissan Leaf (50% LiMn2O2 / Li(NiMnCo)O2), in comparison to other chemistry compositions available, has a lot of parasitic reaction, which increases as temperature increases as well as time between cycles increases. What this means is, compared to Nissan’s cycle testing results of battery life, your battery cells will fail early. I believe the Leaf battery pack is cooled either, which wouldn’t help the issue?

    I’m guessing temperature isn’t a big concern where you are located, which would help prevent early cell failure, but the charge cycle time is probably higher than average for yourself? You could always use the car a lot more to increase battery life ;)

    The video is definitely worth the watch if you have the time.

    Good luck with the battery woes and tell the in-laws to watch it as well!

    • Koots Chewt January 14, 2017, 9:25 am

      Hey that was a very interesting video (took a few weeks to find the time to watch it!) My take-away from his video is that the Leaf battery chemistry inherently has a terribly high amount of parasitic reactions as compared to some other chemistries, but there are two things to keep in mind:

      1) As he noted, different additives in the electrolyte can dramatically influence the cell life under different conditions; we know Nissan tinkered with the anode a bit for the 2013 and new Leaf as compared to 2011/2012, and I believe I read somewhere that they also tweaked the electrolyte. Maybe for the Lizard battery (2015 and newer, supposedly more heat tolerant), they tweaked the electrolyte formula again.

      2) The parasitic reactions occur at higher cell voltage – the manufacturer helps this out somewhat by limiting the top end of charging to something less than the actual 100% the cell is capable of, but the patterns of the user affect time spent at higher SOC significantly.

      As an example for 2), I drive more than any Mustachian should (for reasons I won’t get into here, but it is a conscious choice), so I currently have to charge my car twice per day. My degradation has not been accelerated compared to others with less mileage than me though, and in fact it is less than some folks. I attribute part of this to my charging habits:
      – I typically only charge the car just before I use it (e.g. I use either the car charger timer or my EVSE timer delay to have the car charge at about 2am, only a few hours before I leave in the morning)
      – Once I get to work, I usually leave the car sitting with low SOC until a few hours before I am planning to leave, then I run out and plug it in (and in the summer, I ‘time’ it somewhat, such that it doesn’t reach 100% charge; I need about 60-70% to get home)
      – In this fashion, my car rarely sits at 100% for any length of time, especially during the day in the summer when it is hot out

      (Note that when I talk about “100%” above, I am referring to the SOC display on the dash; Nissan actually limits 100% display to be about 92% actual SOC).

      (Note 2: I’m too lazy right now to dig up references to the past info on Leaf chemistry; if really interested I can dig it up and post here).

      MMM: I do now wonder if you have a bad cell alright; car will limit discharge to the lowest common denominator, and a weak cell would make your pack appear abnormally short on capacity as the BMS shuts things down to protect the weak one. Good luck!

  • John Hyde January 4, 2017, 9:36 am

    I’m sorry to hear of your troubles, I have the same car, 30kw battery and have done 20,000 kilometres in the first year. I’ve done 10 QC’s and 633 l2 charges and have 100% SOH and Hx=96.84%
    I did notice my state of health was down to 96 at one point, but a few full charges at L2 rebalanced the battery and I was back to 100.
    I don’t know if that is helpful to you but please feel free to contact me if I can be of help.

  • Ryan January 9, 2017, 10:31 am

    Nissan recommends using L2 charging rather than the L1 EVSE, and also recomends avoiding “top off” charging (keeping the batteries between 80-100%).

  • RecoveringCarClown January 13, 2017, 9:57 am

    MotorTrend compares the Bolt to the Model S while slamming the Leaf, however they don’t address the initial cost advantage of the Leaf. I suppose you are getting what you pay for in some sense as the battery pack drives cost.

    “More than any EV that’s come before it, the Bolt makes emissions-free, environmentally friendly transportation a realistic proposition for millions of Americans. It has made the current crop of pricey, short-range electric cars from BMW, Nissan, and others utterly irrelevant.”

    Good read though…

    Car of the year…

    I’ll be on the sidelines for a while as my 06 Vibe has tons of life left, but I like to dream and think about what I could buy used in the future.

  • Li January 14, 2017, 5:50 pm

    I think I have read all of your posts and the comments on the Nissan Leaf. We are looking at buying a used, low km. 2015 here in SW Ontario. I am concerned about the IIHS poor crash test rating on the small overlap front test for each model year since 2013. Have I missed comments about this or what do people think of this issue? Thank you.

    • G-Dub March 13, 2017, 10:24 am

      I am also thinking about a 2015 and am concerned about this. What did you decide to do? Did you pick up another EV instead or go with another solution?

  • Andrew Mullen April 28, 2017, 6:06 pm

    I am very interested in the solar carport project as I am looking to do something like this. I currently drive a 1st gen Volt and consistently stay within EV range by charging at work and at home. Being able to offset my increased energy use at home with solar would be awesome! What size system did you go with and are you doing a grid tie system or and off grid system with batteries?

    • Andrew Mullen April 28, 2017, 6:16 pm

      So I see that you stated you were going with an off grid setup. So I take it you will be charging some storage batteries when the sun is out, thus allowing you to charge the Leaf with clean sun power 24/7? Sounds pretty awesome. I was thinking of a grid tie set up…did you consider that as well, or would you encourage the off grid/ battery setup? Thanks

  • Alex Hurd May 14, 2017, 5:44 pm

    Thanks again for running this experiment! I didn’t think I would follow in your footsteps quite so soon, but after the hailstorm last week totaled my car, I finally started looking at a Leaf of my own. It turns out that Xcel energy is offering a $10,000 credit in Colorado through the end of June. Combining that with the $7,500 federal and $5,000 state incentives, plus the $8,000 from my old car, and this car is almost free! What a crazy weekend.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2017, 1:41 pm

      Cool Alex, I think you’ll enjoy the Leaf!

      Just to clarify, I don’t think Xcel Energy is actually chipping in any money towards the car, but I think Nissan has developed marketing partnerships with a bunch of groups (townships, school boards, solar companies, etc.) to offer this roughly $10k “discount” off of the inflated base MSRP of the Leaf. Still a good deal though, and roughly the same one I got on the car.

      More information on this –

  • Crystal May 21, 2017, 4:36 am

    May I ask how it handles in the mountains? The only reason I have a car living on the front range is so I can get up into the mountains on the weekend….escape to the wilderness. Isn’t that the only reason you have a car too?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 21, 2017, 6:47 am

      I find the Leaf has been great for canyon driving, because it has swift acceleration and nice tight handling (much better than the truck/jeep/suvs that many people think of as mountain vehicles).

      Also, the regenerative braking is amazing for the long descents, especially when you switch from regular “Drive” mode to “B” mode: instead of battling with which gear to be in or how to keep your brakes from overheating, your car just drags nicely, easily staying at a good speed while recharging its batteries.

      But I still rarely find myself driving much in the mountains, because I usually just drive to the edge and then hop on the mountain bike. Or ride a road bike right from home!

  • Michael May 22, 2017, 3:50 pm

    Here in Denver local media has recently highlighted current rebates, saying you can now purchase a Leaf for less than $12,000 after taxes and fees. Based on your experience and my driving habits, this seems like a no-brainer so I’ve contacted Nigel about a purchase.

    One question though. Have you run into any scenarios in which a ‘quick charge port’ would be worthwhile? The option costs an extra $1700 but enables a 20 minute charge.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 23, 2017, 4:50 pm

      Glad to hear it Michael, I think you’ll really like the car.

      I have the SV model, which comes with the fast charge port automatically. It is handy and fun (most Nissan dealerships offer free quick charging) and would be essential if you ever planned to take the car on a 300+ mile day of driving. But definitely not essential, and $1700 is a ridiculous price to charge for it.

      According to the car’s stats page, I’ve used mine only 9 times in the 8 months I have owned the car, none of which were truly necesary.

  • Mighty Investor June 4, 2017, 9:35 am


    Thanks for continuing to provide updates on the Leaf purchase. I saw a comment you made in another post about the Leaf and thought you had soured on the whole enterprise (maybe a victim of the “shiny new object” compulsion). But from reading this page more closely, it sounds like you are still enthusiastic about the car.

    My mom (she’s 77!) is in line to get one of a Tesla Model 3 whenever they come out. I hope to buy electric down the road and will follow this page with interest.

    If you do decide that the whole thing was sort of a waste of time and money, please do let us know–as we value your unvarnished opinion.

  • Kevin B July 3, 2017, 7:28 am

    Hey there MMM, I wanted to share my recent Leaf purchase experience with everyone. In my quest to become a full fledged mustachian, I created a list of changes I needed to make in my life. High on the list was getting rid of my 2010 Honda Pilot. I’ve got 3 daughters, and the Pilot was handy for carting them and their friends around the sprawl of the Kansas City suburbs, but two of the kids are in college now, and we rarely ever all get in the same car at the same time. The Pilot was relegated to my daily commuter (36 miles roundtrip, that’s another thing I’m working on fixing). Anyway, I decided the Pilot has to go. I researched it’s value on Edmunds, and determined $11k would be a good trade value, and $12-$13k would be a good private party sale price, so this was the cap I established for my budget on the replacement.
    We’ve had a Prius for 10 years, and it’s been a fantastic car, so I thought about just buying another newer but used Prius. I also looked at a variety of fuel efficient hatchbacks, as well as the Volt and the Leaf. 2 weeks ago, while reading the MMM forums, I stumbled upon a Nissan/KCP&L rebate that was set to expire 6/30/2017. It was a full $10K rebate off the price of a new Leaf, so I immediately pulled up and searched for new Leaf’s. I found exactly one new Leaf in all of KansasCity (a red 2017 S model with the quick charge port added). Long story short, I ended up purchasing the new Leaf, and here are the details of the deal:

    MSRP; $33,700
    Dealer discount: – $2,000 ($31,700)
    Nissan/KCP&L rebate: – $10,000 ($21,700)
    Federal tax credit – $7,500 ($14,200)
    (* No state rebates in Kansas or Missouri)

    Trade in on Pilot $11,000 ($3,200) *This took some negotiating
    State sales tax on purchase price + $1,800 ($5,000)
    State Sales tax saved due to trade-in off-set – $900 ($4,100) * this is the total out-of-pocket for me

    So, while I didn’t stick to my original goal of not exceeding the value of the Pilot on my new/next car purchase, I do feel like I got an incredible deal for a brand new car (basically $14,000 plus a healthy trade-in value for the old gas guzzler).

    So far, the Leaf has been fantastic to drive. Mileage in the city is far beyond what I anticipated. My wife ad I took a leisurley 1 hour drive around our area (25-40 mph streets), and the battery only dropped by 3%. My commute consumes about 12-15% of the battery each way (17.5 miles of mostly 65-70 mph highway driving). An added bonus is that all of the Chargepoint stations in Kansas City are still free, and we have a ton of them. In fact, I have one 6 blocks from my house at a neighborhood bank, so I’ve been parking the car down there and walking home after work. Later in the evening, I take the dog for a walk, and retrieve the car (it takes about 3.5 hours to charge from close to empty, but I’m never close to empty). I’m sure this free charging will run out at some point, and I will need to install a level 2 ESVE in my garage, but for now, I am driving for free. I also have a couple of Chargepoint stations about 4.5 miles from my office (once I exit the freeway), so I’ve ordered a hitch kit for the Leaf at My plan is to tow the bike with the Leaf, Plug it in at the Chargepoint station, and then hop on the bike for the final 4.5 miles to work. I can either retrieve the car at lunch, or after work, whichever is more convenient. This gets me a 9 mile workout, and cuts my time behind the wheel by 15-20 minutes. I’m still learning about the Leaf every day, but I really am happy with this car so far.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 7, 2017, 10:37 am

      Awesome! Congratulations Kevin – a Leaf is a huge upgrade over a Pilot.

      And I too get an irrational pleasure from those free Chargepoint chargers all over town.

      If you think about it, at 6.6 kW they are only giving away 66 cents of free electricity per hour, so you really should not waste any time trying to maximize use. But if they trick you into walking a bit more, it’s a harmless indulgence. Just don’t drive several miles out of your way for free charging, because at that point it’s a loss – better to minimize mileage and just charge at home.

      • Joe Brewer July 11, 2017, 2:44 pm

        In order to energize my Leaf and my body I put a bike rack on the back of ours. I drop it off at Whole Foods for a free charge, ride my bike back the 2 miles home and go and pick it up about 4 hours later by either taking a run back or the bike. I avoid charging at home at all costs. We are also lucky to live within 3 miles of the University of Maryland which also has a few free chargers.

  • Kev July 4, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Be warned all is not rosy with Nissan Leafs, we bought a 2016 SL in September last year and a few hours after its first service last Thursday we have a brick. We have Battery, EV and PS warning lights on and after a couple of days in the garage their best guess is that the main battery pack is now defective. They are still running tests to determine if this is the actual root cause and are not sure whether this will be repairable nor whether it will need a new battery pack.

    Nissan used to have a reputation for reliability, perhaps this is no longer the case?

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 5, 2017, 7:18 pm

      Hey Kev, thanks for sharing the interesting story. From what I’ve read so far, Leafs are still highly reliable on average. But no machine that is manufactured in six-figure quantities, each with thousands of parts will be 100% trouble-free for every owner.

      But maybe you can share an update of how the repair goes – so far, my ONLY issue with the car is that most people in Nissan don’t know much about electric cars. (To be fair, they also don’t know much about gasoline cars either – in the typical big company, most people don’t know the inner details of the products they sell).

  • Steve July 17, 2017, 1:44 pm

    I see a great ($10k) discount for a new Leaf for Excel energy customers in Colorado until July 31st, 2017. Alas, I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and cannot seem to figure out a way to finagle myself into becoming an Excel customer in time for the deadline. Even considered some sort of short term apartment lease in CO but besides that possibly not adhering to the fine print, e.g. residency perhaps, I wouldn’t get my first bill until August when the offer will have expired. A swing and a miss.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 19, 2017, 3:08 pm

      Never fear Steve – that same “discount” is available for anyone who asks. I’ve seen it advertised as being for school teachers, neighborhood associations, solar power customers, etc. Really, it’s just a discount from Nissan.

      Call Nigel at Boulder Nissan, tell him I sent you, and he’ll hook you up very efficiently ;-)

  • Nice Joy July 28, 2017, 8:56 pm

    Any updates on solar panels for leaf charging?

  • miki bijon August 2, 2017, 7:29 pm


    How’s the battery SOH now? got back to 99% soh?

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 4, 2017, 8:35 am

      96% so far – the computer seems to be happier at calibrating this still-new battery with long drives in hot weather, and charging in warm conditions as well.

      • EVed August 24, 2017, 1:06 pm

        I have a new 2017 Leaf for just one month (i got it 7/27 so a few days shy) and SOH dropped from 100% to 98% after about the first 600 miles. Not sure if that’s an artifact or just what… very hot here (Phoenix)

  • Brad Beckstrom October 13, 2017, 8:17 am

    Looks like Costco is now offering supplier pricing and cashback (gift card) on the Chevy Bolt

  • G-Dub October 19, 2017, 11:07 am

    We’ve wanted to go EV for a while and purchased a 2012 plug in Prius for our second car in 2015. Facing a $700 bill for repairs to our 2001 Honda Accord we decided to buy an EV to replace instead. After looking at many options, we settled on a 2013 Leaf “S” for it’s combination of low price, range and utility. MMM research in this area was key to making an informed decision. We ended up purchasing the Leaf for ~$11 K from CarMax by the time everything was said and done. My main concern with the Leaf was the front offset crash test results but the benefits of the car (in particular space for two child seats vice other EVs – Spark EV was the runner up) outweighed the chance of that type of occurrence in the end.

    We went with CarMax because they are fast, offer good, inspected cars, make research easy online, have a huge inventory, give a 30 day warranty and 5 days no questions asked return policy. Yes, they charge more for the services they provide but after a few shitty CL experiences, worth it IMO. Used the same salesman for both the Prius and the Leaf. Paid cash.

    Commute is an un-mustachian 27 miles one way to work (trust me, I face-punch myself almost daily) and the 80% charge on the 2013 Leaf covers this. Might have to charge to 100% in winter. Got lucky in that this Leaf is still at 10 bars (or whatever max is) of battery capacity.

    Ended up installing the Juice Box 50amp 240v charger at home which charges the Leaf in ~2.5 hours and the Prius in ~.5. That ran ~$1200 for materials and electrician (also cash) final connects/breaker box work.

    Love the Leaf, best driving experience I’ve had in a while, even in “Eco” mode. Next up, fixing the commute to up the time on the bike!

  • Adrian Dediu October 24, 2017, 12:19 pm

    I have a 2013 Leaf SV and currently at 9 bars( lost 3 bars), no complains about the car, drives wonderfully, no maintenance whatsoever. However I was pondering to replace the battery once I get to 8 bars but my frustration is that there are no third party/after market battery manufacturers or at least none that I know of. Considering the recent advance in battery technology I should easily find today a minimum 200 miles range battery (see Bolt at 238 miles, Tesla 3 at 310 miles). To pay $5,500 to Nissan for the same old 84 miles range battery seems to me like going backwards in time. Any ideas how to deal with the battery degradation issue?

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 24, 2017, 2:03 pm

      Hey Adrian – what’s the mileage and climate history of that Leaf?

      Lots of 2013s still have all 12 of their bars but it can be inconsistent, especially in hot climates. Nissan has an 8-year/100k mile battery warranty that gives you a free battery if you get below 9 bars. If you push the issue, you might even be able to get one right now. Or, start beating the hell out of that battery to get it down to 8 – fast highway driving, quick charging in hot weather, run it right to empty.

      • lionsfan54 October 25, 2017, 10:57 am

        In late 2013 the Leafs started to receive the “lizard battery” actually. I have a late build 2013 Leaf (built in Nov, 2013) and, at 25,000 miles, I’m still at 12 bars of battery on the dashboard.

        Also, the capacity warranty on 2013 Nissan Leafs was only 5 yrs/60,000 miles. The 8 yr/100k mile warranty was on just plain old battery defects, not normal loss of capacity

      • David S. October 26, 2017, 7:09 am

        On the 24 kWh battery, like Adrian’s 2013 LEAF, the capacity warranty is 5-years/60k miles.

  • Dave Mackie October 26, 2017, 1:09 pm

    I’m researching EVs and stumbled across an unappreciated benefit to grid powered electric cars. Traditional utility companies have to get state utility commission approval to increase rates while the neighborhood gas station will raise the pump price on any whiff of bad news. In the dozen years and 220k miles I’ve owned a VW diesel Golf the pump price has ranged from $1.53 to $4.80/gal (or 4 to 13 cents a mile).
    My utility records only go back five years – when I paid .13/kwh (after all fees). Today it’s .11/kwh (!!)

    Lower fuel cost per mile and more stable.

    MMM described the joy of heated steering wheel and seats – does anyone have comments on the Nissan Leaf air-conditioning?


    • Mr. Money Mustache October 26, 2017, 6:17 pm

      The air conditioning is great as well. Electricity powered means you can use it almost guilt-free :-)

  • Emmy April 24, 2018, 12:20 pm

    I’ve been a big fan of Tesla since 2012 when I first heard of the company and their mission to make a mass market electric vehicle. I’ve been on the waiting list for a Model 3 since the first minute I could be. My lease on my current Volt is up in October, so I was really hoping for good timing on this.

    My problem now is this: I just received an invitation to order my Model 3, but only if I get the extended range version for $50K. I don’t feel like I need the extended range and do not want to do this. BUT I am pretty sure that if I wait until the $35K version comes to me (probably early 2019), the federal tax credit will be expired.

    So I am leaning toward canceling my reservation, but having a hard time pulling the trigger on giving up my Tesla Dreams. I just can’t justify spending $50K on a car, though, especially since I don’t drive very much (I work from home). Should I get a Volt/Bolt/Leaf? Used (no tax credit) or new (tax credit)? Just wait for my $35K Model 3 and risk losing the opportunity for the tax credit in the meantime?

    (I am new to this blog but the posts I have read speak to my soul.)

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 24, 2018, 12:53 pm

      Hi Emmy,

      Unless you’re already financially independent, I would advise heavily against buying ANY sort of fancy car (or leasing one).

      Keep your vehicle spending well under $10k (especially since you don’t drive much – congratulations!), minimize your driving, maximize your biking and walking, and you win on all fronts.

      You’ll be fitter, richer, and you can let the wealthy and spendy people keep Tesla’s mission going strong. I too support the company, but there are plenty of spendy people out there to keep them going. You don’t have to be one of them!

      • Emmy April 25, 2018, 5:16 am

        Thank you so much for the response and the advice!

    • AdamB April 24, 2018, 2:41 pm

      FWIW, it looks like the nations electric utilities have woken up to their personal benefit of having all cars on the electric grid and very recently started lobbying for a permanent extension of the EV federal tax credit. I wouldn’t count on it passing in this congress however. Maybe in an ominbus type bill in a few years.


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