Let Big Oil Buy Your EV!
Since turning from EV activist to EV advocate to EV salesman, I've watched the development and ultimate sale of the Nissan LEAF, and from more of a distance, the Volt, as they burst into the market early last year. At first, we couldn't come close to keeping up with demand. The first year, we were several months behind filling orders to eager customers intent on kicking the oil companies out of their lives for good.
Then, shortly after the new year, the demand fell off rather quickly. I was surprised, and somewhat dismayed that there weren't more early adopters, but so be it. It just meant that we'd have to take longer to educate the rest of them than we first thought.
Nationwide, we're now pushing 40,000 plug in cars on America's roads. This is a huge step up from the 3,000 we had just two years ago. From my perspective, the growth is significant, but the potential is massive. We have over 250 million vehicles in the U.S. and are currently selling about 14 million new vehicles per year. This is a decades long endeavor, and while I am grateful to be a part of the beginning, there's no way I'll see it to the end. I am thrilled our thousands of Plug In America members are pitching in to help.
Nissan has recently introduced some pricing changes, including an eye-popping new approach to LEAF leases. NEWS FLASH! The payment for a lease has now dropped to less than what many people are paying for gas each month!
When I realized that there were people who could, in essence, let the oil companies "pay" for their cars, I got the word out. I'm now very busy delivering LEAFs to happy customers who are paying less for their cars than they were paying for just the gas for their internal combustion cars. I had one customer who was just finishing a $325/month lease for a car on which she was spending an additional $275 for gas, AND she had to get it smog checked, oil changes, and so on. She's now driving a clean, red LEAF right past the gas station she used to give her money to.
Many customers figured out they could trade their 2011 LEAFs for the new 2012 and drop their lease payment by a decent amount. The first of these saved $50 per month and got a new car to boot. In just one week, half a dozen LEAF drivers followed suit, including myself. Better yet, this gave me my first batch of used LEAFs to sell, a good 18 months before I thought that would happen.
I'm now making good deals on used LEAFs as well as encouraging customers to let the oil companies pay for their new cars. Business is booming! I've sold more EVs in the past three weeks than the past three months. It's a good feeling to have hit the price point for a large group of people. Apparently, it's not just me. Nissan reported close to a thousand LEAF sales last month. More than we've sold in one month since last year.
The Volt is doing even better. Several of my friends, including Plug In America's communications rock star, Zan Dubin Scott, have leased Volts for the same reason. The lease price got too close to what they were paying for gas, so using that money to instead get a plug-in car became a true no-brainer.
I'm very encouraged that this new pricing paradigm will accelerate the transition from dirty oil to renewable electricity for our transportation. Let's spread the word!
Paul Scott, a Plug In America co-founder, now sells Nissan Leafs full-time.