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Published on February 11th, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan


Used BMW i3, Used Nissan LEAF, or … ?

February 11th, 2018 by  

2½ years ago, I asked readers here on CleanTechnica to help me out with a tough decision — which electric car to get. My wife and I were planning to move to Florida, or back to Florida in my case. (I’ve been living in Poland for nearly 10 years now. My wife is from here, so she has lived here most of her life.) I left Florida 14 years ago (mid-2004) in large part because of the car-oriented, sprawling development patterns down there, but I’ve missed the wonderful beaches ever since and would also like my parents to have some time with my young daughters.

As it turned out, after ~9 months of the immigration process for my wife going as it was supposed to, the small final step ended up being delayed 2½ years for no clear reason. The final interview (which took approximately 2 minutes) took place last month and we are now supposed to move to the United States within a few months or so. As much as I appreciated the feedback thousands of people provided back in 2015, the data and options are a bit out of date now.

At first, I thought, “Well, the timing works well to get one of the Tesla Model 3s I reserved.” Alas, with the standard (220 mile) Tesla Model 3 delayed till late 2018, it seems that won’t be an option after all — unless we somehow lived in Southwest Florida with two little girls without a car of our own for several months, which I can’t really imagine doing.

On the one hand, this tempts me to do what I’ve wanted to do for years — get a used BMW i3 at a wicked-low price. Another more sensible option would be to get a used Nissan LEAF for even cheaper. Or we could get a used Nissan LEAF for a few months and then jump into a Tesla Model 3 once it’s available, which would then provide us with the wonderful benefits of getting the Tesla that we’d love so much — ability to go on fully electric road trips, extreme safety, full self-driving hardware, wonderful navigation and infotainment, and stunning design. Plus, we’d get to support a cleantech company that I think is critical to a quick transition to electric vehicles.

Obviously, it’s a very personal decision, but as usual, I’m happy to take suggestions and comments from thoughtful readers.

One more thing I thought I’d highlight, however, is how much some used electric car prices have come down in the past 1½ years. In August 2016, I noted that you could get a used BMW i3 for approximately $20,000, and a used Nissan LEAF below $7,000 or even below $6,000 in one case. Now, the low end of the used BMW i3 market is $14,000 to $16,000 in California ($16,000–17,000 in Florida). The used LEAF market is more or less the same as it was.

$10,000 for a used BMW i3 would be sweet as heck, but even $16,000–17,000 is compelling. A Nissan LEAF from the same time period (2014 or 2015) starts at $10,000–11,000 in the region. I have a feeling I’ll be eagerly watching the trends till June or July.

Of course, if readers want to crowdfund me a used Tesla Model X, that would be totally swell as an alternative. 🙂 

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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