One real concern when looking to buy a modern EV is the speed of development. Cars are moving faster than mobile phone technology right now and there’s always a chance that our expensive electric cars are just beta models.
Even worse, what if the electric cars of today turn out to be the Betamax or Compact Disc of tomorrow?
If technology keeps going at the current rate, then some of the most cutting edge electric cars on the market right now will be redundant scrap metal in just a few years. So, that raise the question: why would you buy one right now?
Are early adopters prepared to take the hit?
Well early adopters know they could take a hit on their investment, but there’s a difference between having a drawer full of old phones and a bunch of old cars that cost six-figures. Not many people can afford to lose money at that rate.
Leasing is an obvious answer, especially for the more expensive cars like the Tesla Model S, X and Generation EQ. You get to drive cutting edge tech that you can trade in for a new car three years down the line. As an interesting aside, Tesla recently ended its guaranteed buyback price, so there’s an element of risk.
Still, if Tesla introduces a new battery pack, or Mercedes doubles its range with graphene supercapacitors, then you don’t have to worry too much about the plummeting value of the car on your drive. The leasing firm will almost certainly share the pain to get you in to the new model.
Lease prices are affordable
A Model S 60 comes with a typical lease payment of $886/month. That’s not cheap, but it does mean that you can trade in your base level Tesla for something much more advanced in three years without trying to find a taxi company to sell your car too.
The Chevrolet Bolt can be yours from as little as $309/month with nothing down, which is much more palatable. Nissan, meanwhile, will lease you a Leaf for $199/month. With minimal fuel costs then this car is almost a no-brainer if drivers cover enough miles. People are buying the Bolt, of course, but that lease looks good.
What is coming in the future?
We already know the next generation of cars will be light years ahead of today’s machines. They will be connected to the Internet of Things, they will take us everywhere we want to go without out input and they will focus on the user experience.
The next generation of cars could be an office, a cinema or bedroom. They could be so much more than a simple car that they could render today’s EVs obsolete at a stroke. In fact, they should.
We are waiting for integrated pods that zip around the city while we do something else. When that time comes, the cradle to grave energy cost of today’s electric cars could make for painful reading. Cars are recyclable, but if the current crop have an exceptionally short lifespan then they’re dead in the water.
Is the Tesla Model S P100D a beta model? Not now…
Still, it’s hard to call the likes of the Tesla Model S and X beta development cars. They are, quite simply, the fastest and most advanced cars in their respective classes right now.
The faster models are supercar slayers on the drag strip, virtually autonomous on the highway and brilliant in every way. Indeed, we can argue that the likes of Tesla have made petrol cars look relatively stone-age. That car is not beta, it’s alpha in every way.
The Model S is arguably the best car in the world, the P100D is certainly the fastest production car on sale right now and that’s enough for a lot of people to place their orders.
Yes, they know that this car will be left behind by the advances that are coming, although Tesla’s over-the-air updates mean that the P100D will keep pace until the next major hardware update.
Tesla resale values are worth looking at
It has to be said, too, that the market for used Teslas is beyond buoyant. A three-year-old Tesla Model S still retains 62% of its value, according to Black Book.
On the other hand, the last generation Nissan Leaf is changing hands for $6000-$7000 at auction. So that is a three-year-old car selling for 18% of its original value, which is bad…
Cars with a small range simply aren’t finding a new home, which does make sense. The last gen Nissan covered just 60 miles with a new system. Assuming some level of degradation over the years, the old Leaf simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to the range.
Avoid the lesser EVs
An old e-Golf or BMW i3 all electric simply won’t be worth having on the drive when you consider the leasing options that are coming from the big manufacturers. So expect them to sell for a pittance in the near future. If you need a cheap commuter then that could be a win-win for you, but if you bought one new then get ready to take a painful hit.
Cars with a longer range are absolutely still in demand. But those that skimped on the battery and tried to sell short range as a feature are finding their cars heading for the bargain basement. So if you bought a Nissan Leaf then absolutely, you were a beta tester and you’re going to get burned on the trade-in.