Friday, May 4

Now Could Be The Time To Go EV Or Hybrid Or Cruzin

I guess you could say I've already owned a hybrid vehicle. Three, in fact, as I ran two Mercedes-Benzes and a Suburban on diesel/vegetable oil. But I'm probably not going back to that method of saving the environment. I did start to look into solar panels for the house or maybe an EV car. Right now could be the time to pull the trigger on the car, especially if we could get all the GM and government incentives. I'm looking at the Bolt EV and the Volt Hybrid, but it would have to be the right deal.


I pulled this off before, and it was at a similar point, when GM topped off my wife's GM card. We got a year-old (still new) Cobalt for just a hair over $10,000. Cash incentives, employee discount (relative), and $3,000 in GM Card money. I financed it through GM and then paid the car off a few months later. I told another Chevy salesman about the deal, and he confirmed it was pretty sweet, not that the car was anything special. I got about $7,000 in a trade three years later (I could have sold it for $7,500, so you know it was a good deal to get it for 10K.)

Can I get even close again, especially on an electric or hybrid vehicle? Well, not really, since these cars ARE a lot more expensive. However, we can get to a point where one of these cars is at least affordable, maybe.

The Volt runs about $35,000 and the Bolt $40,000. Either one works for our needs, mostly. But that's way more than I've ever spent on a car. Let's look at what can help us out.

The federal government is still offering $7500 in tax credit for the cars, but I'm not really sure that will help me as much as it sounds. The government isn't cutting checks to anyone who owes less than that amount in taxes, so I'd have to re-evaluate my tax situation very closely. Let's just pretend for now that I'll get the full $7500 benefit.

JEA is also offering a $1000 rebate for the purchase of an EV, which would apply to the Volt, too. Not sure if it's a credit on my bill or what, but that's another thousand off the price (eventually).

The incentives that work now include the employee discount, the educator discount, and the GM Card top-off. However, I've read these can no longer all be combined like when I got my Cobalt. It seems that I can combine the GM Card and the educator discount, basically $3000 and $1000 respectively.

Supposedly, at least one of these cars has a 60-month 0% interest loan, which is also worth several thousand dollars over the time. And I would probably have to get that deal to make it happen. But you never get cash back AND decent financing.

So the $35,000 Volt would be $31,000 in cash, and more like $22,500 in how much I'd have to pay. The $40,000 Bolt would be $5000 more at $27,500.

I know, tax, title, and license, etc.

The amount to be financed would be based off the cash price, not based on any tax savings or JEA rebates, so that means around close to $34,000 on the Volt and more like $39,000 on the Bolt, or list price-ish. And with the tax changes, I probably won't be able to itemize to use the sales tax deduction, so no help there.

At 0% interest, if it's available, it would be $650 a month on the Bolt and almost $100 less on the Volt. The one-time tax incentives and rebate might help, but that's still some serious cash for standard American cars. If GM doesn't offer the 0%, it's not even a consideration, especially since our current cars won't get us anything in trade--maybe enough for a down payment of around 10%.

I want to do the right thing, but I'm pretty sure these two cars are just electric versions of the Cruze, which means nothing really special. I can get the LT version of the Cruze for $21,500 (complete with premium cloth seats), and then take my $3000 off in GM Card, as well as something off for the educator thing, maybe another $500. Again, if I could get all this and 0% from GM financing, not bad. So about $20,000 after tax or $333 a month for half a decade. But since the little asterisk says the deal isn't available with special financing, probably not.

Wait, there's more, with the LS Cruze coming in at $18,000, the take off $3500 and we're at $14,500. I can even get it in Slummit White like my Cobalt, and it will be just as basic, except the power windows. Probably no 0% financing on this gem, either.

I could always throw the $3000 towards a Spark, which is the reincarnation of the Chevette my dad drove my family all over the country in. Except the Spark probably has AC, a passenger sideview mirror, and a glove compartment door, unlike our Cheapvette. I'm kidding about buying a Spark. We drive older but decent sedans, and it's so hard to downgrade even to a brand new Cruze, but the Spark would set off some real fireworks with the wife and kids. Even with the extra $500 off because I'm in a "select market." Sure, I could get this car dangerously close to the $10,000 mark for a new car, but that's probably a good deal for someone else. And the Sonic is really just a Spark on Viagra.

Bottom line is we're not doing the EV thing right now. If a local dealer can do the Cruze LT with Educator discount, GM Card cash, and 0% financing, I'll take it. If not, I need new tires on the Saab and an airbag for the MKZ.

[UPDATE]
I can't help it, but I like the Cruze Hatchback. We had a Malibu Maxx Hatch and really liked it. A decade later, the slightly smaller Cruze hatch might work. And 40 mpg highway isn't bad for the gerbils running around in the engine bay. 0-60 in 7.5 is respectable--our Lincoln is about the same with half the gas mileage. Just no real safety enhancements, like auto braking or lane alerts, not that those help anyone in Jax, with cars and pedestrians flying into your path from everywhere.

[UPDATE 2]
My Saab is said to be worth $300 to $600 in trade. That's probably about right, as I might be able to get $1000 for it myself. With the deferred maintenance of both tires and brakes set for this summer, I'd be happy if the stealership offers $500 to save me that $1000. In Wisconsin, it was common practice to offer a little more if the buyer wasn't haggling too much on price.

Now might be the time to send out some emails to see if these dealerships want to compete for my $20,000.

[UPDATE 3]
I sent an email to local dealers that I'll address in another post. But I also sent this message to Chevrolet central:
I am looking at new 2018 vehicles, and I want a simple answer before I make a final decision. Does the 2018 Cruze LT Hatchback use a Takata-manufactured airbag inflator? I realize you may or may not have gone to a desiccant system, but this is the single question I want to know before I would purchase this vehicle. Looking to buy in the next couple of days, so please respond quickly. If this car does use a Takata system, I expect you may not bother to contact me, and I will take this opportunity to let you know how disheartened I am with the auto industry as a whole for its poor handling of this issue.  Thank you


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