There’s nothing worse in a salesman’s world than having a product almost nobody wants, which is why GM and Nissan are offering slashed lease rates on the Volt and Leaf.
Those low-cost leases are a huge part of what’s keeping the cars from sinking amid a shark tank of increasingly efficient gasoline engines. Right now, customers can lease a Chevrolet Volt for $299 a month, or a Nissan Leaf for $199 if they live in California.
“I’m utterly surprised people are not lining up to get one at that price,” TrueCar.com analyst Jesse Toprak said to Automotive News. “The annual fuel savings alone make this car very appealing.”
Last month, Chevrolet reported 2,851 volt sales, a new record that also means total Volt sales climbed to 16,348 so far this year. Those numbers eclipse the Nissan Leaf which sold 5,212 units in 2012, 984 of which occurred in September.
Nissan’s figures are actually an improvement over its August sales, but still a 4.6 percent drop compared to last year.
“We’re finally starting to get the dealer engagement,” Nissan sales exec Al Castignetti said. “We’re starting to reach the consumer, the actual consumer for electric vehicles. We’re driving more traffic to our dealerships and that’s a very good thing.”
Even with the mild upswing, EVs seem to be on a downward trend that has major industry players feeling spooked. Toyota will only build 100 of its Scion iQ EVs and will restrict those units to special customers in California, the country’s EV hotbed.
Despite that, Daimler’s Smart brand is also launching the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (ED), and for about $25,000 which is a bargain next to the Nissan’s $36,050 base price. Of course, the two aren’t really comparable cars apart from their shared fuel type, but EV buyers might not see it that way.
During review testing, AutoGuide found the Leaf capable of about 70 miles in the real world. While Smart hasn’t released figures for its new EV, a range shootout could end up being pretty close.
Factoring in the price differences and inherent travel restrictions, electric cars stand out more clearly than ever as city-restricted vehicles. Versions like the Leaf might be able to weather longer travel in theory, but most consumers won’t want to risk running out of range.
Even Smart’s ForTwo ED is priced pretty high for a city-only vehicle, but that might be the direction electric cars have to head to remain marketable. Cheap lease rates probably won’t matter much at all.
The Volt, on the other hand, isn’t tethered in the same way, meaning it might have more long-term success. It’s too expensive for most to justify now, but as demand for fuel efficiency inevitably grows, so will interest in cars like Chevrolet’s plug-in. Prices are also likely to slide as economies of scale take effect and the technology becomes more affordable.
[Source: Automotive News]