Buying A Used Nissan Leaf
My wife and I recently moved, and biking to work was no longer a possibility. It was time for me to find a second car. I really wanted an electric car. I loved the idea of no emissions checks, no oil changes, no filter changes, no gas stations, etc. But, they are very expensive.
One thing I found, was pre-owned Nissan Leafs can be bought for a steal. The car's value plummets after only a few years. Consumers seem to be warry about the longevity of the car's battery, so demand is low.
I was able to buy a 2014 Leaf for less than $12,000 out the door. That's 63%+ off the original sticker price. Insane! You couldn't convert a gas car for less money, and here you can get one practically new!
Here's some things you should know if you're interested in buying a used Nissan Leaf.
Battery capacity is measured in bars. There are a total of 12. After so many years, you will not be able to charge the battery to all 12. Nissan has warrantied the battery to 9 bars for 5yr/60,000 miles. Meaning, if you can only charge to 8 bars, they will replace the battery with a new or remanufactured unit. Make sure you see the car fully charged. Check the CarFax. If the car you're looking at doesn't charge to 9, and hasn't already had a replacement battery, you can just go down to Nissan and get a new one, free!
Nissan has a new type of battery in their cars today that doesn't suffer from the same degradation as earlier models. Supposedly, they have been quietly testing it since some 2013 models. If you get a 2014, you'll already have the better lasting battery.
The car get's ~100 miles to a charge. So, it's best as a second vehicle, and if your total commute is 50 miles or under. The car's range goes down with heavy use of the climate controls (heating in particular). So, a long wintery commute without charging on the other end may be a non-starter for you.
I'm currently charging off a standard 120v/15amp outlet, and the "trickle charger" that comes with the car. Charging a battery from 0-100 on this takes 21 hours. But, if your commute is short like mine, you will have no trouble topping off your battery every night.
Should it pose a problem, you'll have to have a 220v/30amp plug installed, and need to buy the more powerful home charger (~$600 plus installation).
I did some rudimentary math, and calculated the cost is equivalent to getting around 100 mpg, at a $2.30 per gallon price. Your results may vary based on your price per kilowatt and price per gallon.
Keep in mind you're also saving a boat load on oil changes and other maintenance. Breaks last longer as well, due to aggressive use of the electric motor for regenerative breaking.
The battery warranty starts from the day/month the car was originally sold. If you buy from a Nissan dealer, you'll usually get a 3mo/3,000mi bumper-to-bumper. After that, there's a 7yr/100,000mi certified Nissan warranty from the date of original sale. The 7yr warranty omits much of an electric car's internals, but will cover things like the radio and doors functioning, etc.
There's also 7yr roadside assistance. If you ever run out of battery, you can call Nissan, and they'll tow you to the nearest charging station, free.
Do your research. Kelley Blue Book is a decent resource for sale ranges. 1/3 the list price after 2 years seems to be a good number, and it goes down from there. Haggle. The ball is in the buyer's court.