We’re Not Actually Rich


The new fleet...

The new fleet…

Yes, we leased a second Leaf. No, we’re not actually rich, in fact, I’ve never had a new car in my life, and suddenly we have two within a few weeks. But I wanted to post this to underscore something that I suspected a few weeks ago, and have now confirmed—leasing and driving a Leaf costs roughly the same amount as driving my old beater Suby when you factor everything in. And, the math holds equally for Leaf #2—leasing and driving two Leafs (“Leaves”? This has been an argument around the dinner table) is roughly the same monthly expense as driving our two older cars. I won’t repeat all the numbers, but the base model Leaf (the S) starts at $199 a month (with $2000 down, for a 3-year, 12,000 mile/yr lease). No maintenance required (it’s under warranty for the entire lease period), no gasoline required. Again, for most people who spend more than we do anyway for transportation, they might actually come out ahead.

So, a few random details for those Leaf-inclined, or just curious—

—We have a slightly unusual situation with our off-grid house, so during short-daylight times of year, or rainy weeks like this one, we will use public charging stations more often. Due to this, we ended up with an SV and an SL, because we needed the larger, 6.6 kw on-board chargers. But I think I’d recommend this for just about anyone who might use public chargers from time to time—the SV lease is about $25 more a month, but probably worth it. The SV also has more powerful regenerative braking, as well as a bunch of dashboard gizmos that I didn’t actually want or need. But the larger on-board charger is important, I think.

—The cars are super-quiet; you have to be careful with cyclists. I almost hit one lady on a bike the other day—she veered right in front of me without looking, because she clearly didn’t hear the car.

—On sunny days, charging at Level 1 works really well here with the solar panels—I can charge the car AND the house batteries, at the same time.

—I’m getting at least 100 miles per charge, though they say it will be lower in the winter when it gets colder. In fact, I’ve driven the car over 700 miles in just 7 days. One reason we got a second one is to spread the miles allowed by the lease (15,000/yr in our case) over two different cars—my wife drives only about 3 miles to work, but I drive about 40.

—I forgot my ChargePoint card the other day, and called the toll-free number on the public charger, and the operator unlocked it for me remotely. That was pretty nifty.

—A Leaf might not be the best choice for people who have only one vehicle; every once and a while you’re going to have to take a longer trip, where the Leaf wouldn’t quite fill the bill. But for families who can hold a regular car in reserve for those rare occasions, an EV (or two) could really be a good choice for your pocketbook, your health, and the environment.

—And lastly, I’m really loving the EV lifestyle. I end up walking quite a bit, every day. I park the car at a charger, and walk. And I don’t see many other people walking, just thousands of people in cars, all trying to park within a few hundred feet of where they’re going, so that they DON’T have to walk. But the walking is really nice; it’s time to think, it’s some good exercise, and, the other day in the misty rain, invigorating. Modern technology has perhaps made our lives too easy, if we’re not careful we’re going to indeed end up like the corpulent, social-media-anesthetized humans in the film WALL-E. And I’m not being self-righteous, ten days ago I was one of those drivers looking for that closest parking spot.

But this is all good. For us, off-grid, it’s going to be a slight inconvenience from time to time, compared to those with grid power who can charge up completely every night while they sleep. But with two Leafs, we’ll save about 3,000 gallons of gasoline in three years, and a chunk of that power will come from our own solar, where it is currently not used once the house batteries are full. And, we get to drive new cars for about the same monthly expense as we had before (and less hassle with maintenance). And our brains and bodies will probably work better, due to some frequent walking.

Image credit: Me

3 thoughts on “We’re Not Actually Rich

  1. Jane Ward

    Hi, I’m Chelsea’s mom- This is a really neat explanation of how to make the most of your surplus solar electricity generation, how to save gasoline and drive new EV’s all at the same time. We are currently attached to the grid, but have a 9kw collection of solar panels and thin film PV on our roof and on good days, generate more than we use- We are considering a plug-in hybrid, but after reading your blog- may also consider a Leaf! Have fun living sustainably! Jane

    1. Taborri Post author

      Good to hear from you Jane! I’ve realized that being grid-tied is actually more efficient in the long run, because everything that a set of panels can generate gets captured and used. The whole thought is actually on my “to blog” list (which actually gets longer every day, instead of shorter). With a plug-in hybrid, you should be able to be “all EV” for most shorter trips, and still have the flexibility of using the vehicle for longer trips. If you will have a second vehicle available anyway for longer trips, you might consider the Leaf, it’s longer range would enable nearly all of your day-to-day trips to be fossil-fuel free. And, if you can’t tell, I love the Leafs. After just a few weeks, ICE cars seem kind of dirty, nasty, and loud. (Prius’s being the exception, perhaps).
      I saw Chelsea’s video about her Alaska trip, if you want to post her links to a comment I’ll copy them to the sidebar so other people can see them. We’ll be following them as they go! -tb

  2. Jason Mull

    You hit the nail right on the head! There is a misconception that one has to be rich in order to be environmentally responsible. In all actuality leasing a Leaf is less expensive than leasing a $25,000 vehicle, and you save on gas! We all need to be conscious with all of our choicesa to live a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and our environment.

Comments are closed.