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Posted: 4:45 a.m. Monday, May 12, 2014

# Wes Moss: A new car, that's more than free

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Wes Moss
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By Wes Moss

Seriously, that’s not a typo.

Here’s why the Nissan Leaf is essentially “free” in Georgia, and this isn’t even accounting for what you’ll save on gas (I’ll explain that part in a minute, but it just makes the Leaf an even better deal).

Here’s the math:

A Nissan Leaf in its basic form (and with good credit) starts at \$28,980, or \$199.00 per month if you lease it. The state of Georgia is offering several tax incentives to get you to purchase an electric vehicle which includes up to a \$5,000 income tax credit.

Here's the fine print: “An income tax credit is available for up to 20 percent of the cost to purchase or lease an electric vehicle, or \$5,000, whichever is less. The credit cannot exceed the taxpayer's income tax liability, but any portion of the credit not used in the year the electric vehicle is purchased or leased may be carried over for up to five additional years (48-7-40.16(b)). The vehicle must be registered in the state of Georgia.”

So now let’s divide this \$5,000 by our lease of \$199. That gives us 25 months, just over two years, to have a free car.

This means, if you lease a Leaf for two years, your net expense is less than zero.  And that means it’s more than free.

Now let’s talk about the gas savings. If you’re currently driving 17,500 miles a year and your car gets 18.5 miles to the gallon, you’re using 945 gallons of gas each year. If you multiply that number by the average price of gas (\$3.73 x 945) then you’re spending more than \$3,500 in gas each year. Now imagine not spending a dime on gas because you have a free Leaf.

I know you’re saying yourself, “Okay, this sounds like a good deal, but who has actually done it?” Alex West, a local Atlantan who owns a software/website development company, used this Leaf deal to not only get a free car, but to even start several business ventures. Alex was driving a new Porsche Boxster in early 2013 when he originally heard about this deal. He decided to sell his fancy, gas-guzzling car, and instead drive the free Nissan Leaf. He put the money he received from selling his Porsche towards starting his business ventures, artCloud and Wela.

Alex got this deal by calling around to several dealerships to see exactly what kind of car he would be able to lease. He was able to get a mid-level model of the Nissan Leaf that would typically be \$36,000, reduced with federal tax incentives to \$28,500, and he was then able to lease the Leaf for \$215 a month. He says his car has a range of 75 to 90 miles on a single charge, and he invested \$600 in a 240 volt charger so that he’d be able to charge his car quickly at home. He’s been happy with his Leaf, and the amazing financial flexibility it gave him.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of this car...

The Pros:

• Essentially you own this car for the first two years for free
• You get a 10 percent tax credit for cost of the electric vehicle charging equipment up to \$2,500
• Your savings on gas are just ridiculous
• You get to always ride in the HOV lane. That’s right, even when you are by yourself
• You won’t be contributing to Atlanta’s smog

The Cons:

• Your electric bill may go up a touch (Alex said he doesn’t even notice)
• You cannot drive too far without having to charge the car
• Since the state is just offering a percentage off your income, and not a flat \$5,000, this deal is really best served to those who make above \$60,000 a year
• You have to drive the Leaf . . . which for those of us who are attached to our trucks and SUVs that can sound like a real challenge

The moral of the story is, this deal is really almost too good to be true. You should get your Leaf before this deal blows away.

Certified financial planner Wes Moss offers financial and accessible investment advice to Atlanta Bargain Hunter readers.

Send Wes Moss an email.

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