This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.


Lower Electric Vehicle Prices from GM and Nissan

Tom Schueneman's picture

Environmental writer, journalist and web publisher. Founder of

  • Member since 2018
  • 202 items added with 149,679 views
  • Mar 1, 2013

Nissan lowers price for Electric VehiclesFor those of you who always wanted an electric vehicle but the near $36,000 price tag was a deal-breaker: your time has come.  Nissan took the first step, announcing last month an 18 percent price cut, bringing the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) from $35,200 to just $28,800.  That’s still a lot of money, but brings the entirely electric vehicle into a more reasonable price range for many people.

Depending on your state’s tax credits, combined with the feds, you may be able to purchase a Leaf for around $18,800.  This is for the lowest model, the “S”.  The higher-end models, the SV and SL, also saw price drops – although less significant.  The SV dropped 10 percent to $31,820 and the SL dropped 6 percent to $34,840.

The most impressive and optimistic factor here? The prices are being dropped not because of new Federal tax incentives, not because of outsourcing but because the economics allow the prices to drop.  IE: the market has sustained these vehicles to a point that manufacturing costs have dropped.  Bummer for people who rushed out and bought the $35,200 “first edition”.  Hats off to those folks who paved the way for the rest of us.

Shortly after Nissan’s announcement, the manufacturer of the Leaf’s only major competitor, GM, announced a similar price reduction in their “electric” Volt.  For those unfamiliar, the volt can run on electricity for a period of time, then kick into gas mode for extended distance.  Depending on your driving pattern, this is the next best thing for someone wanting an all-electric ride that also needs a longer driving range.

GM did not announce the exact price cut, but promised “thousands” off the original price.  In a clear attempt to not be outdone by Nissan, GM followed suit.  We have yet to see the exact price, suggesting GM was caught off guard and needs to crunch the numbers.  They indicate advances in battery technology and electric motor designs are allowing them to sharpen the pencil on the price.

What’s driving this price change?  I’m no economist (read: D+ in macro economics in college), but US electric and hybrid sales rose 73 percent in 2012.  According to Clean Technica, sales are expected to rise 14 percent in 2013.  The former statistic makes clean vehicles the fastest growing sector of the American auto market.  Remember when SUV’s were the fastest growing segment?  Me too, and I grin with delight to think of such a significant paradigm shift.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 1, 2013

Willem, in many of these posts you assume CO2 generated by the production of your electricity is the same regardless of where you live.

The EPA disagrees with you:

"Many electricity customers can choose their provider of electricity or can purchase green power from their utility. In fact, you might now have the option of choosing cleaner, more environmentally friendly sources of energy.

Power Profiler will:

  • Determine your power grid region based on your ZIP code and electric utility
  • Compare the fuel mix and air emissions rates of the electricity in your region to the national average
  • Determine the air emissions impacts of electricity use in your home or business"


Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 1, 2013


What you're saying implies that regional utilities have no control over what electricity they will buy - electricity flows to the area of lowest voltage, nationwide, and all that's left is accounting after the fact to see who owes what to whom.

There would be no need (in fact, it would be fraudulent) to create any kind of contract between a utility and a provider, as this would imply the two entities can control the exchange. Yet these contracts exist. It would also imply laws like this are a sham, and windfarms are pulling the wool over the eyes of not only the public but California's energy regulators:

"Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation requiring California's utilities to get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2020, casting the new law as a way to maintain the state's lead in the emerging clean-energy industry."

I think you're mistaken here. That electromagnetic waves travel the speed of light is irrelevant to how local utilities balance their voltage requirements (there is an infinite range of possible ways to fill a sink using two faucets).

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 2, 2013

From illustration below, I can see how utilities don't control their electricity sources in real time. However, it appears they purchase energy ahead of time and the system operator uses these purchases to coordinate where energy is generated. If a utility purchases more green energy, there's more green energy on the grid, whether it's used in California or North Dakota. So it's not just a feelgood gesture as you imply, and the overall effect is the same whether they're powering their EVs with it or it's being used at a factory 1,000 miles away.

Jeff Watts's picture
Jeff Watts on Mar 7, 2013

"Your welcome. It actually is not a bummer. With the state and fed incentive the Leaf was quite afforable and still gives me plenty of fun and I fully enjoy driving it daily."


Well in reality the rest of the taxpayers kicked in to pick up the tab without getting to enjoy the new car. So, it's still a bummer.

Tom Schueneman's picture
Thank Tom for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network® is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »