Cut-throat leases on the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are widely available throughout the U.S. Leases make sense for many buyers that haven’t leased before because both of these vehicles qualify for the $7500 federal tax credit. With a lease, the lessor (e.g., Nissan Finance for a Leaf) is the owner of the car. It takes the tax credit. When you buy a Leaf or Volt, you need to have a federal tax liability of at least $7500 to write-off the full tax credit. With a lease, you get the $7500 discount via the lease holder.
The tax credit for the Toyota Prius Plug-in is small, but now Toyota is offering huge incentives to buy the Prius Plug-in in some markets. I searched BuyAToyota.com for three zip codes where Toyota sells the Prius Plug-in. For buyers in Wenham, Massachusetts (01984), the offer is $4000 off the regular and $5000 off the advanced with zero percent financing for 60 months. The selection is huge too, 264 plug-ins in inventory at local dealers. For buyers in Martinez, California (Bay Area, 94553) the offer is $1000 off either advanced or regular with zero percent financing for 60 months. They also promote the HOV-lane-single-driver access in California as a “special offer.” The inventory in the area according to BuyAToyota.com is 105 hybrids. For buyers in Tempe, Arizona (Phoenix Area, 85280), there isn’t any offer at all. The plug-in doesn’t seem to be available right now in Tempe. All offers end December 3rd, 2012.
I listed reviews recently for the Prius Plug-in/V. The Prius Plug-in reviews are not very flattering. Toyota has even leaked details of the next Prius redesign, a vehicle not slated for release until at least spring of 2015. Was this done to discourage Toyota owners from trading in for a C-Max Hybrid or Energi?
With the announcement that GE will be buying 2,000 C-Max Energi vehicles and early adopters placing orders for the C-Max Energi, the Michigan Assembly Plant where Ford manufactures the Energi will be busy for months according to my estimate. However, what about next year? There is the possibility of a “fiscal cliff” dumping the GDP into negative territory in early 2013. Now Ford is faced with this financial uncertainty plus bargains on competing plug-in vehicles in the U.S. An advantage for Ford is the assembly plant makes five different vehicles. They don’t need to idle the plant if C-Max sales fall. This was a public relations mess for GM when they idled the plant making Volts recently. Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford is making contingency plans in the case Pres. Obama and congress fail to pass legislation avoiding the “fiscal cliff.” It seems clear that Ford is managed better than GM and Chrysler after reading this Bloomberg article.