Recently I wrote about my Sustainable Living efforts and mentioned the decision to buy a Nissan Leaf. Learn more on why I decided to buy an electric vehicle.

2013 Nissan Leaf electric car Chris Istace Mindful Explorer

Why I Bought an Electric Nissan Leaf

For the past year I have been researching electric vehicles. I wanted to both reduce my carbon footprint with zero emissions but also take advantage of the fuel price offset savings. I was fortunate to discover the blog from EV Kootenay Family , a fellow Canadian who has written about his Nissan Leaf over the past 4 years.

So I am looking at two units right now,
2013 Leaf SL 24kwh battery 140km range $18,000 41,000km
2016 Leaf SL 30kwh battery 180km range $26,000 15,000km

I am extremely anti-debt and hate spending money but digging into my past expenses I can buy this new(ish) EV car for the same $$ per month as my current op costs of the EV car.

I analyzed my current ICE car and over the last 12 months and all fuel and maintenance worked out to $472/month. This does not include anything tire related or insurance as that is the same irrelevant of car. My current vehicle is a 2010 SantaFe with 223,000km and will only cost more for maintenance as time goes buy with age and mileage.

The two used Nissan Leaf models I was considering
2013 Leaf SL 24kwh battery 140km range $18,000 41,000km
2016 Leaf SL 30kwh battery 180km range $26,000 15,000km

2013 Leaf approx $377 per month loan payment
2016 Leaf approx $528 per month loan payment
2018 current ICE car $472 per month average op costs

I could pay cash for the new car but with my current rate of return for my investments is well over 7% annually. Leaving my cash invested actually nets me a 2% differential compared to the 5% loan interest rate so it is better to stay invested and take a loan.

So do I buy the older car with the shorter range and put myself ahead $100 per month or do I go with the basically brand new Leaf with more range for $60 increased monthly spending?

I should add……
The plan is this will be our local primary vehicle and we will have the ICE car still for the long range 500km plus road trips. In late 2019 or early 2020 I intend to trade that in on the many many upcoming proposed vehicles from Nissan, Chev (already exists) and Hyundai (an AWD suv) that are in the 400-500km range per charge.

I really liked the 2013 model and its specifications are the following; 24 kwh battery (scan tool says 88% capacity), SV model with Navigation, 360’ cameras, LED lights, blue tooth, heated seats, 4 door hatchback, keyless doors, keyless starting, regenerative drive mode and much more.

This video may be from the UK but I like the overview they give the car.

The 2016 was too much of a price jump, $8000 extra which put me over my goal of breakeven of below $475/month and buying a brand new 2018 from Nissan just wasn’t in my finances or lifestyle plan.

Once the decision was finalized I ended up spending $21,000 taxes in. This works out to $400/month and breaking down my current auto expenses over last 12 months I spent $472/month (fuel & maintenance). I track all my spending very methodically as it helps us save more money and get a clearer picture on how we are living our life. To see how I tracked this read this article I wrote and be sure to click on the link to the MINT financial app.

8 Money Tips to Fund Your Next Adventure

The $72/month saving will most likely go to hydro bill if I am unable to make the charging station network meet my needs. The majority of that savings will go to long distance road trips or places without charging infrastructure  in my Hyundai Santa Fe Suv. This vehicle we have owned for 5 years and it is well maintained and is owned outright, no sense in getting rid of it.

Baseline again, purchase price was $20,000 after tax and I chose to do a loan as my cash was better left in investments because the loan payment would be offset by gas.

I’m on track to do 20,000km/yr which is just under the North American average of almost 23,000/yr. I don’t work a traditional job anymore and am home based so there is no commute for me. My biggest trips come from traveling to hiking and running locations.

For data, I am using the average price of gas on Vancouver Island for my spreadsheet and using the fuel efficiency of my SUV at 10L per 100 km to calculate cost per km.

2013 Nissan Leaf electric car Chris Istace Mindful Explorer

Initial Thoughts on 1st Month Driving my Nissan Leaf

I haven’t done a whole lot of driving as I typically stick around my home base. I got away for two further trips which were an experiment on how to get to hiking trails and manage charging. The day trips took a fair bit longer as my EV is the short range model and needed to plan stops every 100-120km.

This wasn’t too bad as there are DC Quick Chargers at the key spots. The interesting part was driving up the big elevation gain to Mt Washington from Courtenay and watching the battery drop quickly, the upside though is watching it recharge nicely on the descent.  **Raven Lodge lets EV owners plug in for trickle charging fyi**

The one section of our highway has a 120km/hr limit but I do about 95km/hr on it as that is about the most I want to do if preserving battery efficiency is the goal. I have found I relax a bit more with the car and drive slower to extend range of battery and maximize battery regeneration when coming to a stop or going downhill.

For the month I drove 2019 kms and at my previous fuel average cost in the SUV equates to $283 in fuel savings. In the month I paid my loan payment and installed new wiper blades for a cost of $403. This puts me at a net cost of new vehicle ownership at $120 for the month.

I feel as time passes this average should come close to zero being I didn’t travel too much this month. Also the vehicle will have a retained net asset value of which part of the payment is going towards. Do I calculate only the interest and depreciation of the vehicle as a true cost rather than the full price as when I trade in or sell in the future there will be a return on capital. I should mention I do plan on buying a longer range EV in the distant future.

2013 Nissan Leaf electric car Chris Istace Mindful Explorer

Reaching 2 months of ownership of my Nissan Leaf

So gas jumped as much as 14 cents a litre during this second month around the Cowichan Valley. Makes me even more confident in my shift to 100% electric when my “refueling” stations don’t involve gasoline or diesel.

Downtown in Duncan at the shell the price per litre is $1.48 currently, current cost for a 10 kwh recharge is $0.085/kwh or 85cents . That amount of charge gets me roughly 100km of range and in my fairly fuel efficient SUV that would have used $14.80 worth of fuel…so I’m saving $14 per 100km.

So here is the comparison if I was driving a ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle while including the capital cost of ownership would have been $778 over the last 60 days. You could add in a prorated $40 towards my usual 6000km engine service as I drove 3300km. Putting traditional vehicle cost at $818.

For the Leaf, driving 3300km over the last two months and subtracting my fuel savings from the loan payment my actual cost is $296. So I am driving a nearly brand new vehicle, fully loaded with every option possible upgraded for a net cost of $37 per month.

Sure I have to charge it and my trips take a bit more time on longer trips but in my mind the trade of is worth it. I have included a screenshot of my spreadsheet for your review

2013 Nissan Leaf electric car Chris Istace Mindful Explorer

2 months of costs and fuel savings tracked on my 2013 Nissan leaf

I will continue to update how ownership with my Nissan Leaf electric car goes and share as much of the good and bad with you. For now it continues to be a great switch, both for how nice of a great vehicle it is but also the fuel savings and zero emissions.

Have you considered buying an electric vehicle yet? Heck, have you had a test drive or ride in one?

An supplemental article from my favorite blogger Mr Money Mustache himself bought and wrote about his 2016 Nissan leaf as a nice bit of further reading for you.

The Nissan Leaf Experiment

To read a bit more on my article that I first wrote about my electric car on you can do so by following this link; Striving Towards Sustainable Living

If you want to know more about what sparked my financial journey that evolved into my sustainable living efforts start with this great blog post I wrote.

Mindful Pursuit to Happiness through Personal Finance

Be sure to follow along on my mindful journey discovering the benefits of the outdoors, simple living, personal finance, sustainable living and mindfulness on social media. My Instagram account is @Stasher_BC as well as over on Twitter at @Stasher_BC . Use the hashtags #MindfulExplorer and #ExploreBeyondTheUsual so I can see how you are optimizing and improving your own life.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Nice Chris! Cool little car. I’m assuming you’ve seen MMM’s big post on the Leaf. I can’t help but think we’re still in the “big bang” days of EVs, which is too bad since we should be waaaay further along. To see my Mom I have to go too far to have the Leaf but when longer range models come out I could see having one in the future. Or hopefully by then we’ll have autonomous services and just not own any car at all.

    • Mine is a short range first generation but the 2019 will be about 400km range. One quick charge in the middle of a drive puts you easily knocking off 700-800km days. Self driving and electric are coming hard and fast, I wonder if society is ready. Electric cars are like the first Ford Model Ts driving down the streets of New York with the horse drawn carriages.

  • Awesome – looks like a great car!

    My last 2 cars have been purchased with an eye towards lower fuel costs – first a VW TDI (then there was the ‘diesel scandal’, whoops!), and then I purchased a Prius, which gives me about 60 miles per gallon (or 3.9 L/100km). I would have loved to buy an electric car or at least a plug-in hybrid, but I live in New York City, with no access to electric charging. Maybe the landscape will have changed when I’m ready to buy my next car.

    • We don’t have a problem on Vancouver Island with the charging network but I hear a lot of concerns for Vancouver people. Things like only street parking or parkades for condo owners and no electrical system to allow charging. Also the size of the city and population make finding a charger or an open one harder as well. As market share and driving range increase these will be less of a problem.

  • Tawcan says:

    Very interesting and I love you broke down the numbers. I do wonder how the car would perform when it comes to winter time and you need to turn on heating. I’d love to switch from an ICE to an electric car one of these days.

    • We are personal finance geeks so of course the numbers have to be there right 🙂
      It that first cold spell we had earlier this month I messed around with turning on the heat, the heated seats and heated steering wheel. It didn’t seem to have a huge impact on range and the computer said power systems were seeing a reduction of about 4km range. I find AC is a bigger power draw than heat. The other thing though is when it is very cold outside it affects the battery pack and reduces range somewhat.
      As for my numbers, I plan to keep tracking for as long as I own the car to build a financial case for others.

  • Love that you made the switch to EV. I’m a big fan of reducing natural resource consumption. Have you found yourself sacrificing time with charging?

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