After months of research and years of wanting a new car..we bought the Nissan Leaf! I decided to write about the car for various reasons. 1 - There are only 6,000 of these cars in the world and not many people know the real deal about the car. 2 - We had an un-fabulous time at the dealer and we have some quick and dirty tips on car dealers and car buyer rights. I continue to learn new things about the car each day, I've only had it a week and there are new surprises and anxiety trips I get to go through - so I will share it with the world!
Picking the Car
First, the decision on buying the Leaf was very lengthy. There will be many options in 2012 and buying the first car out there was not my first plan of action. There will be fully electric cars made by: BMW, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Ford, Tesla and many others. However, not all electric vehicles are made equal. Most of the cars listed above do not get the full range of the Leaf. The lack of range and high cost of the BMW and Volvo cut them out of the running immediately. Tesla is an amazing car, has an amazing range, but is $50k and a sports car - which I didn't want. The other cars were either super ugly, had a bad range, or both. It narrowed it down to the Leaf and Ford's Focus rumors. These cars are supposed to be direct competitors with range, price and features. I chose Nissan because of the look and that I never trusted Ford as a car company. I test drove the Leaf and the decision was final. Everything about the Leaf is amazing. The car is super fast, dead silent, fully electric, and packed full of technology.
Nissan Leaf, SL, 2011
Price $35,000 (minus $10k in government incentives = $25K)
Technology/features in SL: Navigation, Bluetooth, rear camera back-up assistance, solar panel, recycled bottles for fabric of seats, Level 3 charger etc.
The only way to order a Leaf is to register online at www.nissanusa.com. Nissan will let you register for $100 to be put on a waiting list. Once you are picked, you choose your car and accessories and get a quote from a dealer. Then you order the car, wait 3 - 6 months (I've been told) and you get your car sent to the dealer for purchase. At that time you can walk away from the car or buy it - no obligation.
I was registered for the car and it was my time to get a quote. I searched around for the best quote on the 2012 cars but was disappointed because the price went up for the new model by $3000. The only difference is the standard level 3 charging (quick charger, 480 volts, 30 minute charge) and battery and seat heating for cold weather climates.
As I called around I found out some dealers had "orphan" Leafs. These cars were ordered and never picked up. Dealers were trying to make a deal and mark up these cars sometimes $5k to $10k over MSRP. Since I wasn't in a hurry I said I could wait and would get quoted for the 2012 because they were actually giving $1500 discount on MSRP for these.
I called Stadium Nissan and they mentioned they received an orphan. It was a white 2011 with a level 3 and wanted MSRP for it! I jumped down there, saw the car and agreed to buy it that night. The next step was to go over financing. After hours at the finance table, it was 2am. They were pushing warranties on me and showing me literature on ICE (internal combustion engine) cars - all the other Leaf info was locked up and I couldn't make an educated decision. They told me not to worry about it - just add the warranties, come back on Monday, and decide if you want to add it later.
We came back after studying online about electric car warranties - that it wasn't worth it. Long story short, we tried to cancel the warranties, we were told we couldn't (which was a lie). Then they proceeded to add lojack and other additions therefore "packing" the loan - illegal. They let us know that the price was contingent on these items we did not agree on - illegal. After investigating my rights under the "car buyers bill of rights" I discovered loan packing was illegal and buyers must be disclosed every part of the deal and what they are buying. After calling Nissan and struggling with the dealer for 7 days straight, we got the car at MSRP as originally quoted. This was a nightmarish experience, but I learned what my rights were in the process. I also learned that regular car dealers don't know how to sell to Leaf buyers - we're too educated on the car, we don't want the crap warranties, and we're not going to fall for your usually scams. They were nice in the end and took off the charges, but I never want to buy a car again! Until another cool car comes out I guess!