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Nissan Leaf–Payback Time Of 234 Years!

April 23, 2013

By Paul Homewood


Nissan Leaf


Nissan began their European production of their all-electric Leaf in their Sunderland factory last month. So perhaps it’s time we took a closer look at the costs.


Nissan themselves compare their car to the Ford Focus, and I have listed a comparison of the main features below.


Leaf Focus 100PS EcoBoost
Length – mm 4445 4358
Width – mm 1770 1858
Height – mm 1550 1484
Luggage capacity 330 316
Max Speed – mph 90 115
Engine Power – PS 109 100
0 – 62mph – seconds 11.9 12.5
Electricity Consumption – wh/km 173
Fuel Consumption – mpg 60.1
Charging Time from empty 8 hours
Range 109 miles
Purchase Cost (i) £28490 £16795

(i) This does not include the £5000 subsidy made by the UK government, as the cost does not change – it simply means someone else pays it.



The performance and specifications of the two cars are broadly comparable, but how do the costs stack up? The table below summarises annual costs based on 7000 miles per annum, i.e. about 20 miles a day.

Most car owners would tend to do at least 10000 miles a year, but the long charging time and short range for the Leaf would effectively rule out the sort of longer trips that typical owners make, and which contribute to the higher figure. In other words, the Leaf would really only be appropriate for daily commuting and local use.


Cost per annum Leaf Focus
Fuel/Electricity (1) (2) (3) 350 700
Insurance 1080 780
Total Running Costs 1430 1480



(1) Electricity cost is assumed at 13p/kwh, typical of current discounted rates. Electric car proponents often claim that costs could be reduced by charging overnight on cheaper Economy 7 tariffs. However, independent analysts, such as USwitch, maintain that, overall, such tariffs are more expensive unless at least 40% of electric usage is at night – a proportion that is highly unlikely unless you have night storage heaters.

(2) Nissan acknowledge that their claimed electricity consumption of 173Wh/km is heavily dependent on factors such as outside temperature, heating and air conditioning usage. I have assumed an extra 25% usage to cover these.

(3) Insurance costs for both cars are based on Nissan’s own comparison chart, here.


So the saving is a mammoth £50 p.a. Given that the Leaf costs an extra £11995, this means that you would need to keep it for 234 years before you got your money back! This, of course, is even before we factor in the cost of interest on the purchase price.

Other factors which naturally would weigh heavily against the Leaf, even if the cost savings were attractive, are:-

1) Battery life – Nissan only guarantee this for 5 years / 60000 miles.

2) The practical inability to use it for long runs.


Altogether, it does not seem much of a deal, does it?

Even with the government discount, nobody but a moron would buy one. Which is why rich,polar bear loving liberals will want one in their garage – no doubt, sat next to their BMW.




Full specifications are here.

  1. W Bowie permalink
    April 23, 2013 8:34 pm

    The main disadvantages of electric cars are :High cost and depreciation, Short distances that can be travelled on a charge and the fact that due to low mileages possible and a high carbon ‘debt’ that comes from manufacturing, electric cars Save little or no CO2.

    The trade body CAP estimates that the depreciation after 3 years reduces to value to about £12,000 [41.44 %] However, the batteries are only rated to last 8 years and a set costs £19,392. So who would spend that sort of money on a car with a low residual value? In my view that means the car has an anticipated life of just 8 years. so depreciation costs are initially £28,490 -£12,000 =£16,490 over three years or approximately £5,500 a year. Wow

    An electric car comes with a large carbon ‘debt’ from manufacturing say 8,800 kg. With an effective life of just 8 years this means that the car starts with a CO2 debt of 1,100 kg per year. If the car travels 16,400 Km per year the CO2 used to make the electricity is about 0.064 kg/km and so this adds another 1,100 kg per year. A total of 2,200 kg p.a.This is CO2 is comparable with a small petrol car that will last a dozen years and cost less than half as much The petrol car can travel 100’s of miles in a day and does not need to be parked where there is a charging point.

    Why buy any electric car?

  2. Brian Keez permalink
    April 24, 2013 4:13 pm

    If being a moron = more money in my pocket, call me a moron.
    I reduced my fuel expense by 75% in the last 20 months while driving more in my Nissan LEAF than I did in my petrol car. 42,000 miles on my LEAF now and no money spent on maintenance at all. I’m in the U.S., California and the fuel expense for my LEAF is about $60 per 1,000 miles.

    • April 24, 2013 4:21 pm

      What are the comparative purchases over there, Brian?

      Based on UK costs, you certainly would be out of pocket.

      • Brian Keez permalink
        April 24, 2013 4:42 pm

        With bluetooth, navigation, etc. A comparison might be a $30k Ford or something. That comparible would also have the additional $200-$300/month fuel expense. My fuel cost a barely worth mentioning even with my heavy commuting. With incentives, my cost was $24k, the 2013 LEAF is muchless than the 2011 but the same incentives are available. The bottom line is that $300/month on fuel is too much money

    • W Bowie permalink
      April 24, 2013 5:16 pm

      You mention fuel costs but what about the depreciation cost?

      • April 24, 2013 5:51 pm

        The Leaf would be much dearer.(Although to be fair, we would need to know what second hand values will pan out at)

        I could have added finance costs as well!

      • Brian Keez permalink
        April 25, 2013 2:29 pm

        If I bought cars an investment I would be disappointed everytime. Gold and real estate are investments, cars are made for transportation. I sold cars for a while and understand the economics, which is why I was eager to go electric. I look at cars the exact same way I do computer printers – operating cost and reliability.

      • April 26, 2013 9:50 am

        As an accountant, I thoroughly agree.

        That’s why I would not pay £15K extra to buy a car , just to save a few hundred a year on fuel.

    • david permalink
      May 4, 2013 9:52 am

      So if the Ford gets 50 miles per gallon and uses 20 gallons, even at $4 per gallon, that is $80 per month fuel, for 1000 miles, vs $60 for the same mileage in the Leaf. ( A savings of $20 per month!) So I only see a 25% savings in fule costsw with the Leaf.

      You say maintanece is better, yet it sounds like it is not with battery replacement costs. Do not forget the fuel cost likely have a higher percentage tax (making gasoline a reverse subsidy to the Feds) on them then the electric in the Leaf. (Certainly true in Europe) Now add in the incentive subsidy, which is real, and does harm the economy. (Other people paying for your car) Getting harder and harder to justify the electric.

  3. roger permalink
    April 25, 2013 10:21 am

    What a busy boy you are Brian driving 70 miles every day for 20 months!
    The comparison with a Focus was Nissan’s choice.
    My neighbour just sold a 2 year old leaf and got only £10,200.
    Some deal!

    • Brian Keez permalink
      April 25, 2013 2:23 pm

      I leased. I did not think that a LEAF could meet all of my needs when I started driving it, but it absolutely does. I don’t baby it and have been impressed with it’s reliability.

      • April 26, 2013 9:50 am

        Leasing charges in the UK are still about double for the Leaf, compared to Focus.

  4. ralphcramdo permalink
    April 25, 2013 10:34 am

    I bought a Nissan 370Z. It cost $37,8. In 4 years it’ll be worth about $30,0. I get about 28-29 MPG and spend $120 per month for gas on a car that has 332 horsepower.

  5. April 26, 2013 6:20 pm

    You forgot the cost of the replacement battery!
    It seems it will cost a massive £19000
    So how long will it last until replacement becomes necessary?
    If we assume a 10y life then this works out at £1900 pa
    Eeven if the price halved due to production improvements its still £950 pa extra
    So whats the point of a leaf

    PS most people in our area park their car on the street overnight
    Does the insurance premium cover injury claims from pedestrians tripping over the cable while its on charge?
    Does anyone know?

  6. April 27, 2013 7:03 pm

    Some spurious assumptions around the calculations. I guess you are aligned to the oil lobby in some way?

    • April 27, 2013 7:56 pm

      If there are errors in the calculations, I am sure you can point them out to me.

      I do find the presumption that we are all somehow funded by the Koch Brothers extremely pathetic.Please grow up.

    • david permalink
      May 4, 2013 9:55 am

      Maybe “they” the electric car guys, are aligned to the coal lobby, which is, by far, the largest producer of electicty in the US anyway.

  7. October 12, 2013 4:54 pm

    – If you want to save as much CO2 for your $ as you can
    .. You wouldn’t waste a Solar PV panel for a UK roof you’d stick it in a sunny country where it would be working magnitudes more.
    – If you want to save as much CO2 for your $ as you can
    … You wouldn’t waste it on a vehicle that is parked on the driveway most the time. You’d focus on commercial vehicles like buses, trucks & taxis which can be on the road 20 hours a day.
    – If you want to save as much CO2 for your $ as you can
    … You wouldn’t be flying around the world to climate conferences all the time. #GreensGoByAir
    …. but this game doesn’t seem to be really about saving CO2 does it ?

  8. October 12, 2013 4:57 pm

    So EV car = Greenwash gimmick


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