We love that the Nissan Leaf is a pure electric vehicle, and its upstream emissions are, in some states, far beyond reproach.
On the other hand, actually buying a Nissan Leaf, is more expensive, by thousands of dollars, than a conventional vehicle. It also requires installation of a home electric vehicle charger, adding perhaps a couple thousand dollars more. Additionally, if you’re concerned about the battery, undoubtedly the most-important component in the vehicle, you can opt in to the battery protection program, for a monthly fee, of course. Federal and State incentives help to defray some of this cost, as long as you know what to look for, what to ask for, and if you live in a State that offers them.
The thing is, how would you choose between the expensive-but-efficient Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and, say, a cheap-but-not-so-efficient used Nissan Sentra? It’s an odd comparison, I know. By virtue of it’s starting price, does the Sentra come out cheaper in the long run, or do its minimal recharging costs make the Leaf the cheaper option? Time to crunch the numbers, as The Truth About Cars’ Steven Lang did, and the results are surprising. First, of course, you have to decide how willing you are to limit yourself by getting into an electric vehicle, but once you’re past the range anxiety, press on to the comparison.
I love the seven-year cost-of-ownership comparison between the 2013 Nissan Leaf and the decade-older cousin Nissan Sentra. The Sentra starts off far cheaper, by about 8x, but refueling costs are about 4x higher than the Leaf’s recharging costs. Of course, if you still have access to electric vehicle incentives, that knocks off a bit from the Leaf purchase price, but is it enough to beat the Sentra? According to Lang’s calculations, which you can ask him for, the end result is somewhat disappointing. In spite of the electron-sipping performance of the Nissan Leaf, it still costs, on average, 30% to 60% more, per year, than a ten-year-old Nissan Sentra.