You would be forgiven for thinking that California-based startup Tesla invented the electric car and has sold millions around the world to a stream of ebullient middle-class customers. From Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas to others, we endure that much breathless hype about the battery car maker.
But Tesla hasn't sold 100,000 cars in its history. Not even 50,000, though in a shareholder letter Tesla promised to ramp up production to 1,000 cars a week by the end of this year. Of course, Tesla also promised to begin production of its second model, the Model X crossover, late last year.
Alas, assembly of prototype Model X vehicles is now slated for the end of this year. Volume production might start next spring. If you are one of the 10,000 or so who put down a deposit on the X, you will get your car in the fall of next year if all goes well. If you're anticipating Tesla's third model with a promised price in the $35,000-range, then you'll be waiting until close to the end of this decade, at least.
However, if you want a proven $35,000 electric vehicle (EV) from an auto maker that has sold more than 100,000 pure EVs, consider the deal on a well-equipped $35,048 Nissan Leaf SV – a $2,000 factory incentive with another $1,100 or so on the table in the form of a dealer incentive. Nissan isn't making any promises about the Leaf, other than to say that right now you can buy what Nissan calls "the world's most popular electric."
If you want a battery car, you will almost certainly be happy with the Leaf. Nissan says "95 per cent of customers are willing to recommend the car to friends" and that is in no small measure due to its $31,798 base price (with only a $500 lease rebate). Word of mouth helped Nissan reach the 100,000 mark in January after the Leaf had been on the market for three years. That was a massive achievement, a milestone Tesla is, shall we say, a functioning gigafactory away from hitting.
Tesla does say its proposed battery plant in Nevada will be capable of supporting sales of 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020 – with the promised third model accounting for the bulk of those sales. When Tesla is selling 500,000 cars a year, I expect an electrical storm to generate lightening that will strike me down.
I am a Tesla skeptic because I have seen these sorts of enterprises before – Fisker, Ballard Power Systems, Coda, Better Place – their promises relegated to the dustbin of history. I have no doubts about the Leaf and Nissan's ability not only to sell it, but also support its owners for years.
I am not alone. Some analysts, such as Dean Frankel of Lux Research, say the most likely scenario for Tesla vehicle sales is 240,000 a year. Global demand for EVs, he also says, will be around 400,000 in 2020.
To hit its target, says Frankel, "Tesla would have to take a significant share of the entire electric vehicle market in 2020." Unlikley, not with so many other established EV makers in the market, and not with a second-generation and even less expensive Leaf in showrooms long before then, and not with so many other barriers to success.
More than anything, those who doubt me should examine Tesla's balance sheet. Nissan is not only profitable, but has a global footprint and loads of assets. Tesla is none of those things; its assets are roughly equivalent to its liabilities at this point.
If you want an EV, the Leaf is the best deal on a legitimate four-seater. It's real, it's reliable, it comes from a proven auto maker, and with more than $10,000 in incentives in play ($2,000 from the car maker, $1,500 or so from the dealer and $8,500 from the taxpayers of Ontario), the Leaf is affordable. You can have a Leaf for less than $25,000 plus taxes. If you want Tesla's only offering, the Model S, you'll spend almost three times that.
Of course, EV sales account for barely a fraction of Canada's new vehicle market, so we did look for other deals – including more than $23,000 in play on the antithesis of the Leaf, the Jaguar XKR-S. You'll also find thousands in discounts on the Ram pickup and Infiniti's Q70. For the record, we could not find any cash discounts on the Model S. It's not a deal.
Deals of the Week consulted with unhaggle.com, Car Help Canada, carcostcanada.com, and other sources on these offers. As usual, pricing information here is subject to change and dealer discounts vary, so consult your dealer for all the final details, including expiry dates for all offers.
2015 Nissan Leaf four-door HB SV
- MSRP: $35,048
- Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $2,125
- Dealer discount (estimated): $1,150
- Factory discount: $2,000 (manufacturer incentive)
- Taxable subtotal: $34,023
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $38,445.99
- Taxpayer incentive (Ontario): $8,500
- Final price: $29,945.99
A financing rate of 1.9 per cent for 48 or 60 months, or a 2.49 per cent lease rate for 48 months, cannot be combined with the factory incentive.
2015 Jaguar XKR-S
- MSRP: $139,000
- Freight, dealer prep, fees and air conditioning tax: $2,680
- Dealer discount (estimated): $10,900
- Factory discount: $10,000
- Factory discount: $3,000 (loyalty rebate)
- Taxable subtotal: $117,780
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $133,091.40
The loyalty rebate and any dealer incentives can be combined with 3.9 per cent financing for 48 or 60 months, or a 4.9 per cent lease rate for 48 months.
2014 Infiniti Q70 four-door sedan V-8
- MSRP: $76,500
- Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $2,130
- Dealer discount (estimated): $5,900
- Factory discount: $10,000 (manufacturer incentive)
- Taxable subtotal: $62,730
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $70,884.90
A $4,000 factory incentive is available with 1.9 per cent financing for 48 or 60 months, or a 1.9 lease rate for 48 months. A 1 per cent loyalty reduction is available with lease and finance rates, too.
2015 Ram 1500 2WD Crew Cab 6.4-foot box Laramie
- MSRP: $50,095
- Freight, PDI, AC tax: $1,830
- Dealer discount (estimated): $3,850
- Factory discount: $7,000 (manufacturer incentive)
- Taxable subtotal: $41,075
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $46,414.75
Factory incentives are available with 3.99 per cent financing for 48, 60 or 84 months.
Pricing information source: unhaggle.com and carcostcanada.com. Calculations based on Ontario customers. Please note that while the information above is accurate at the time of publication, incentives are given at the discretion of individual dealers, and may be changed or discontinued at any time. Where noted, "dealer discounts" are negotiated with the customer on a case-by-case basis. Unhaggle Savings are actual discounts received by Unhaggle customers.
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