This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | May 31, 2017
If you live in North Carolina or Georgia (and some other states around the country) and have been considering buying an electric vehicle, there’s a month left to take advantage of an incredible incentive offered by Nissan: a $10,000 rebate for the all-electric Nissan LEAF through June 30, 2017. Click here for more details in North Carolina or Georgia, and check with dealerships in your state if you live outside of NC.
I know what you’re thinking: This sounds too good to be true, what’s the catch? Who gives 30 percent off on a new car when there’s already a $7,500 federal tax credit? What’s the matter with these cars?
Believe me, I thought all of these and more back in December when I first heard about this offer. My husband and I had been considering leasing or buying an electric car for a few years as we knew it would be ideal for urban commuting with low operating costs. However, the finances weren’t quite there for us and I just wasn’t ready to put my reliable older car out to pasture quite yet.
Then comes along this flyer promising an instant rebate (no waiting beside your mailbox for a someday refund) as well as the federal tax credit yielding savings up to $17,500. [The up to is an important detail: The federal incentive is only worth $7,500 to someone whose tax bill at the end of the year is $7,500 or more. It pays to do a little homework before you buy.]
According to Nissan and the EV advocacy groups (including Plug-in NC and Clean Cities Georgia) partnering to make this happen, this incentive was launched to encourage greater EV drivership to demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability and reducing greenhouse gases. Because the Nissan LEAF is 100 percent electric, each new LEAF represents a reduction of 6 to 9 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually for every gas engine car replaced, or the equivalent of planting 2,500 trees a year.
Ok, I thought, that all sounds good on paper (or in my case on a smart phone), but honestly, there has to be a catch.Because it was the winter holidays and I had a spare day on hand, I headed over to a local dealership to ask a few questions. Within a few hours, I had test driven a brand-new 2016 LEAF; shown the manager the rebate code on the flyer; been offered an invoice sheet clearly demonstrating the $10,00 reduction in price, was presented with favorable financing along with a new-car warranty; and decided this offer was just too good to pass up.
What if you are considering leasing, not buying, a new LEAF? You should know two things: (1) the $10,000 rebate is not available for leasing and (2) the federal tax credit stays with the leasing company/dealership, which is the actual owner of the vehicle. In most cases, however, the tax credit has been factored into the cost of the lease, so the customer still benefits from that part of the incentives. And it’s worth noting that Nissan is offering to extend current leases set to expire in 2017 until the new 200-mile range Nissan LEAF is debuted later this year. More info on all that here.
What about charging? There’s a plethora of resources out there to help new drivers discover charging stations in your area (including this recent blog post highlighting the robust and growing EV infrastructure here in Asheville, NC).
What about range anxiety? Don’t you ever run out of battery charge? Well, I’ve only been driving 3 months and it hasn’t happened to me yet because (1) I am lucky enough to charge at work, (2) several grocery stores I visit (Ingles and Whole Foods and Earth Fare) all have free chargers and (3) every new car comes with a charging cord allowing you to plug in at home or on the go. I did get the flashing ‘low battery’ warning once when my range was hovering about 10 miles left, but I made it to a charger just fine and never saw the ‘dashes’ appear or experienced ‘turtle mode’ as some of my fellow EV drivers have.
What about that tax refund? We filed taxes in early March 2017 and less than a week later, the $7,500 credit was issued in full. Your total amount will vary according to how much taxes you owe or pay via quarterly estimated earnings (again see an article like this one for more details) but I can confirm the refund did appear independent of the instant rebate the day of sale. Please note, however, I am *not* a tax attorney, so please consult one before leasing or buying if you have questions.
There are hundreds of blogs and write-ups about owning/leasing/driving electric vehicles, but what I didn’t have on that cold day in December when I was sitting in a chair at a dealership thinking about whether to drive away in a new electric car was an honest, first-hand account confirming that (1) the rebate is real and (2) the tax refund is too. If you live in North Carolina or Georgia and you are on the fence, thinking that now might be the time to replace a gas-powered car with an electric one, then I hope this blog post is helpful in that process. If you live outside these two states, please ask your local Nissan dealer if the incentive offer is valid as I have heard some other states are honoring this rebate, too!