2012, 2013 Nissan LEAF Electric Car Drivers Offered $5,000 Sweetener to Buy Cars at End of Lease

With competitive lease deals as low as a few hundred dollars per month for well-equipped models, the majority of new electric car owners today are choosing to lease rather than purchase their cars.

The 2014 Nissan LEAF is available in three trim levels: LEAF S, SV and SL, along with option packages offering advanced systems such as Around View® Monitor and 7-speaker Bose® audio. Enhancements for 2014 include the addition of the RearView Monitor as standard equipment on all models (previously part of the Charge Package) and one new exterior color – Gun Metallic (seven total available colors).

NIssan is offering LEAF customers the chance to get $5,000 off their lease buy-out price.

Along with some of the financial benefits that come from leasing — like being able to apply the $7,500 Federal tax credit when signing the lease rather than waiting until the end of the tax year to claim it — leasing an electric car means you’re generally free from worry over battery longevity and replacement battery costs, since most lease deals end long before your car shows any signs of battery degradation. Then there’s the upgrade potential: if at the end of your lease there’s a better-equipped, longer-range electric car you want to buy, simply hand your car back to the dealer and sign a new lease deal.

In fact, if you’ve got a fairly predictable annual milage and don’t mind not owning the car, we’d recommend leasing an electric car over buying one outright, since it offers all of the benefits of driving electric without any of the risk. And if you get to the end of your lease deal and decide you want to buy the car, simply hand over the outstanding balance and it’s yours.

Like many electric automakers, Nissan has been encouraging customers to lease its LEAF electric car for several years. But as hordes of 2012 and 2013 Nissan LEAF hatchbacks come to the end of their lease deals and their former owners find themselves singing new lease agreements on 2015 model year cars, the Japanese automaker faces a new problem: how to sell on the off-lease vehicles. As a consequence, Nissan is working hard to ensure leased cars don’t come back to the dealership and cause a massive drop in used LEAF prices by encouraging lessees to buy their cars outright rather than return them to the dealer.

Nissan is offering $5,000 in incentives to help you keep your LEAF at lease end.

Nissan is offering $5,000 in incentives to help you keep your LEAF at lease end.

That encouragement comes in the form of a $5,000 lease buyout credit in which Nissan will offer to wipe $5,000 off the value of the outstanding amount payable — often colloquially known as the CBP or “Crippling Balloon Payment” —  and making it cheaper and more practical to buy your leased car.

As CarsDirect (via GreenCarReports) explains, the so-called LEAF Gross Payoff discount is available on all 2012 and 2013 model year cars, while those with an older 2011 model still on lease will find a smaller $1,500 available to help them end their lease and buy their car outright. In some cases, dealerships are offering their own discount worth up to $1,500, although many are choosing to pocket this discount and keep it for themselves.

According to the car valuation site, the average payoff amount for a 2013 Nissan LEAF is somewhere around $20,000 at the end of their lease.  For that price, most lessees would struggle to justify keeping a two or three year old electric car in preference for a new lease.

But at $13,500 – the potential settlement price if both the $5,000 Nissan discount and $1,500 dealer discount is offered — keeping your current LEAF may seem worthwhile.

Naturally, individual circumstances may vary, but the discount is believed to help Nissan account for the changing value of the Nissan LEAF on the used car market. In recent months, the value of that has dropped, caused in part by the drop in new LEAF prices as economies of scale come into play combined with greater competition in the plug-in marketplace. In May alone, the average residual price of a used Nissan LEAF in the U.S> fell by six percent.

Next year’s rumored unveiling of the next-generation 2017 LEAF doesn’t help either: expected to be more mainstream in appearance and offering up to double the range of existing LEAF models, Nissan wants to ensure that it has as few used LEAFs in inventory as possible.

We should note that the lease buyout credit available will depend on individual circumstances and where each customer happens to be in the U.S. With an average $5,000 available however, we think those who are looking to trade their LEAFs back in at the end of their lease may find a good reason to keep hold of them a little longer.

NIssan would prefer customers hold on to their cars rather than return them.

NIssan would prefer customers hold on to their cars rather than return them.

The crippling balloon payment of upwards of $13,000 may be too much for many buyers — and it’s true in some states that new 2015 model year LEAF lease deals and lease deals from competing cars like the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf are too good to miss.

But if you’re happy with your current-generation LEAF and think you could happily live with it a little longer, we’d like to remind you of one fact that might change your mind.

The $5,000 LEAF buyout offer currently being offered on 2012 and 2013 model year LEAFs is almost equivalent to the $5,499 price being charged by Nissan dealers across the U.S. to replace your LEAF’s original aging battery with a brand-new one offering better-than-new range and longevity.

If that’s the only thing stopping you from keeping your current car, using that rebate to fund a brand new battery replacement could be a good deal — but only if your lease happened to be weighted on monthly payments rather than large lease-end payments.

Are you about to come to the end of your Nissan LEAF lease? Are you tempted by this offer? Or are you looking for a newer, next-generation plug-in?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • David Galvan

    I bought a 2014 Leaf because I knew I was going to want to hold onto the car as long as possible. All the cars I’ve ever had were older than 12 years by the time I got rid of them (first car was me inheriting the family station wagon. It was 18 when it died. Next was my grandpa’s old lincoln, 11 when the engine seized, I currently own a 12-year-old 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe with 178k miles on it and going strong, and last year our 12-year old 2002 Suzuki Aerio became too costly to repair, motivating me to buy a 2014 Leaf).

    Even with attractive leasing deals, the Leaf became cheaper to buy assuming you were going to hold onto it at least 7 years (as compared with doing multiple consecutive 3 year leases, or doing a single lease and then buying). (this was 1 year ago when I was doing the comparisons). Now, with this $5k discount off the buyout price, in retrospect if may have been less expensive to lease and then buy, assuming we hadn’t gone over the mileage limitations (high end was 15k miles per year)

    1 year in, we have put 17k miles on the car (more than any lease contract would allow). So I don’t regret buying it. Plus, I don’t really like this “a new car every 3 years” mentality, driving higher demand for making more cars. One of the reasons to drive electric is to lower your environmental impact by reducing use of fossil fuels. But if you are driving greater production of vehicles than you would if you were holding onto the cars for a longer period of time, then you are increasing the environmental impact resulting from the building of the cars in the firs place.

    Battery degradation? Meh. Even if it degrades to 50% (which the models I’ve looked at for my climate zone suggest would happen after 10 years), that would still be enough to cover my current commute. *shrug*

  • Nissan have created their own problem by offering great lease deals starting in 2013, but offering little in the way of discounts for the outright purchaser. So the vast majority of ‘buyers’ lease. Now they are faced with a lot of LEAF’s coming back to them.

    Rather than encourage buyers to lease upfront, why not offer the $5000 off at purchase price for those looking to buy rather than lease. Then there is no ‘unknown factor’ they will have to deal with later.

    I bought my 2011 when I was doing 12,000 miles a year. I could have leased but the deals back then weren’t that good. My circumstances have changed and I am doing 20,000 miles a year with the same car. Glad I didn’t lease now. We can never be sure of how much we will drive year on year, so leasing is always last choice for me. Give me a cash on the hood deal Nissan and I may upgrade.