Choosing Between Leasing or Buying an Entry Level Electric Car

Mitsubishi iMiEV
Should you buy or lease an electric car?
Mitsubishi iMiEV
Should you buy or lease an electric car?

Spending $40,000 on an electric car (EV) is a little steep for the average buyer. Leasing has become a favored option for most.

John Voelcker at Green Car Report started the thread and we will continue to dive into it a little further. Fiat and GM are leading a price assault on affordable electric cars and the debate over buying versus leasing is more relevant than ever.

Fiat 500e. The Fiat 500e is based on the Fiat 500 Abarth and handles so well, people pit both cars against each other. Price. The initial price is $29,300, which comes down to $21,800 after federal incentives. Lease. The Fiat 500e has a 36 month lease in California and Oregon for $199 and a $999 downpayment at signing.

Spark EV 1LT. Price. The GM Spark has a manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $27,495 and drops to $19,995 after federal incentives. This includes a $810 destination freight charge. Lease. The 2014 Spark EV 1LT can also be leased for as little as $199 per month for 36 months, with $999 due at lease signing.

Mitsubishi i MiEVPrice. The Mitsubishi i MiEV in its ES basic version is $22,475 after federal incentives and in California you can add another $2,500, which brings it down to about $19,970. If you live in area with further incentives, the price further drops to roughly $17,500. Lease. The lease for the i MiEV is particularly enticing. For $69 a month you can lease a Mitsubishi i MiEV with a two year lease and $2,100 down payment. You can also opt for an all inclusive $169 monthly deal.

Smart ForTwo EV. Price. The quietest electric car in the media is also one of the most affordable and comes with a few options. You can buy it without its battery pack for $20,650 or $25,750 with it. Without a battery pack, the monthly rental is $80 plus taxes, which covers annual maintenance and replacement, if necessary, extending the guarantee to 10 years. Lease. The lease is also $199 a month, with a $2,000 down payment and battery rental included.

Honda Fit EV. Price. You cannot outright buy the Honda Fit EV. Lease. The lease is particularly appealing at $259 with unlimited mileage and you get to keep the 240 volt EV home charging station after your lease it up.

Ford Focus Electric. Price. The Ford Focus Electric’s basic price is $39,200 with destination charges set at $795. Ford offers a $2,000 cash back, which brings the price down to $37,995, about $30,500 after the Federal $7,500 incentive. If your state and local have more incentives, you could knock off another $5,000. Ford has a monthly finance option of $500 for 72 month financing at 1.9% APR based on 10% down payment. Lease. The lease is $284 a month for 36 months, $929 due at signing, which excludes security deposit, taxes and fees.

Nissan Leaf. Price. The Nissan leaf starts at $28,800 and drops to $21,300 after federal incentives. You can add state and local incentives if available, which brings it to around $18,000 to 19,500. Lease. The basic Leaf SV can be leased for $349 a month with a $1,999 down, which includes the first payment and the signing over the $7,500 federal incentive to Nissan.

Buying Or Leasing An Electric Car? The ideal solution depends on your budget. Buying outright means you own the car and don’t have to deal with monthly payments, which adds to the final price. However, leasing has a few extras. For starters leasing usually adds a charger for most companies, which can run you a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on what you choose. Leasing also gives you an added sense of security for those of you skittish about battery technology. Some electric car makers as the Smart ForTwo offer an advanced warranty for its battery pack. If anything should happen, it will change it and that means if the company has a better system, you would have it. I need to confirm this.

This article is not meant as the final word on leasing versus buying since prices regularly change and leasing gets more intricate and appealing. In the end, you will have to do your own calculations to find out what makes more sense. We’d be happy to hear from you what makes more sense, leasing or buying an electric car?

Nicolas Zart
Born and raised around classic cars, it wasn't until Nicolas drove an AC Proulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news about those amazing full torque electric vehicles, he started writing about this amazing technology and its social impacts in 2007. Today, Nicolas covers renewable energy, test drives cars, does podcasts and films. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he made in those industries. His articles are also published on Teslrati, CleanTechnica, the Beverly Hills Car Club and Medium. "There are more solutions than obstacles." Nicolas Zart