Affordable and Available EV/Plug-in Hybrid

I’m in the market to upgrade my 2007 Prius, and since used cars are so fricking expensive now, I’m looking at new as a potentially better value, especially since I think I’ll be able to use the full $7500 tax credit this year, if I get a purchase locked in before the new law takes effect.

Unfortunately, the same issues driving used car prices up are limiting supply and driving up prices of new vehicles.

Some of the vehicles I’m considering are:

The Prius Prime ($4500 credit because of smaller battery size) and RAV4 Prime, but they don’t seem to be available, and the RAV4 Primes seem to start at ~$44k if you can find one, and I don’t really want to spend $36+k on a car. What attracts me to them is Toyotas’ rock solid reliability combined with useful electric-only range and solid utility. The Prius Prime starts ~$30k, so ~$26k net, which I can imagine paying for a new car.

Nissan Leafs seem to have better availability, and the base model starts around $30k and qualifies for the $7500 tax credit, for a nice net price of ~$24k. But it has a limited 149 mile range, and they use an obsolescent quick charge standard (ChaDeMo) which is not as widely available as CCS. The LEAF Plus has 215 mile range, for better regional utility, and is more widely available. They are ~$38k, so ~$31k net. Leafs do have good reliability and utility.

Chevy Bolt and Bolt EUV do not qualify for the tax credit, but through the end of the year Chevy is apparently offering a $6300 cash incentive, so I’m seeing prices advertised of ~$35k for a Bolt EUV Premier or $28k for a Bolt LT. The EUV is like the original Bolt, but is a few inches longer, so it has better rear seat legroom and a little more cargo area at the expense of a little range, and the Premier has upgrades like Bose stereo, driver assist…I do like a high quality stereo in my car. The Bolt had been rated average reliability for the most part, but that has declined to an expectation of below average reliability for the 2022s after the 2021s were below average. I usually rule out any car expected to be below average, but the prior good record and my admiration for the design lead me to consider them. 259 mile range for the Bolt, 247 mile for the Bolt EUV. CCS quick charge.

The Kia Niro EV has shown good reliability so far, and are well reviewed. Low end is ~$42k, so ~$35k net. Availability is thin.

There are a number of others that are hypothetically in the same range as what I’m looking at here, Kia’s, Hyundais, VWs but between those for sale being on the high end of what I could think about paying, and them being of iffy reliability due to being newer models and from companies without great reputation for reliability, I can’t get too excited about dropping ~$35k net, if I were so lucky as to find one that cheap.

I made some calls to local dealerships, and it looks like the Leaf is the only one with decent prospects for securing one any time soon.

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I made some calls to local dealerships, and it looks like the Leaf is the only one with decent prospects for securing one any time soon.

I realize this is shallow, and not a big reason to buy a car, but we parked next to a Leaf today and I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it looked. Didn’t look tinny at all, which has been my limited and very dated experience with EVs.



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We parked next to a Leaf today and I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it looked

Yeah, they are decent sized, fairly traditionally styled hatchbacks, so I see where you are coming from. Their looks don’t do much for me, but they’re fine. There’s a lot to like about them, but I don’t think I can get over them using the ChaDeMo fast charge standard. Thin on the ground already, poorly maintained, rarely more than one or two at any given location, so if you’re relying on one for a key recharge, you could end up SOL. So … would be buying it basically as a city/county car and I can’t see dropping $24k on a car limited like that.

One other interesting tidbit I got out of my calls … the guy from the Chevy dealer said that the 2022 Bolts are all pre-sold, and they haven’t started allocating the 2023s yet, but that the $6300 incentive currently being applied to the 2022s will be replaced by a same size drop in MSRP for the 2023s. Also, the new law will make them eligible for tax credits again, and since they’re made in the USA, I guess they’ll qualify for some of the credit (?), though probably not all, since there’s a high hurdle for US content that it won’t pass. If the base model is $28k and it qualifies for $3750 tax credit, we’re down below $25k net for a 260 mile range EV … that will be a first.

That may be my best option to wait it out a bit and go for a 2023 Bolt, assuming they get a tax credit.