Being notoriously cheap means I hate car payments so I've been buying ICE cars outright for the last two decades paying as little as $400 but no more than $6,500. Given the general reliability, I have four clunkers outside right now.
Still, my wife wrecked the cheapest 'car' I had which I had gotten new. It was a 2007 HHR I had won from a news syndication outfit contest for my hyperlocal community forum. Since she is the one needing a 'new' car I went about the task of finding a good deal on a reliable car with the knowledge that she, unlike me, is the daily commuter in the family.
Being notoriously cheap also means I hate buying gas and so I resolved this purchase was going to be an EV or hybrid of some sort.
First I looked at the Nissan Leaf because those cars are going for a song and being 100 percent electric, would cover her current daily 20 mile one-way commute with a daily charge. However, she's got her eye on a job that would require a 100-mile daily commute for a little more than a year to get a state pension.
I was still 'sold' on the leaf but had some niggling doubts because accomplishing that commute would require a re-charge at the work place and, even in Atlanta, which was the number four EV city until the state legislature and enacted their anti-EV agenda by repealing a state incentive and added a $200/yr EV tax.
I took the commute requirement to a "leaf-centric" forum and, in a topic titled "Check my logic" told them the story of the 100 mile commute, how she'd have to stop for a quick-charge or arrange for a level 1 charge at her state workplace.
To their credit, the EV advocates there challenged my self-sell and in a nice banter literally convinced me that I should be ashamed to send my wife on a commute that required such a challenging charging regime. But hey, a 2015 car with 25,000 miles for well under 10 grand was enticing.
I had also shopped the used Volts available in Atlanta in the process of my buying due-diligence but the Volt - obviously a more expensive car to begin with - came without so much as a whiff of range anxiety. Still, for the same money, I would have to look at a much older Volt with more miles. The question was how much older and how many more miles.
Fortunately, one of my advertisers is a Chevy Dealer and they happened to have a Volt that was close to my budget. Their retail price was a little over a grand on the high side according to the cargurus estimate of retail dealer value The overall selection of Volts in the market was smaller than the leaf - especially in a private sale scenario - which made it a bit more of a sellers market.
Still, I found a couple of similar 2012 Volts with 50-80,000 miles were available about $4000 less than the local dealer's $13,500 asking price but I couldn't buy a Volt from someone else without giving these folks a chance for my business.
A little background: Thirty years ago I was a buyer of that most ephemeral of products - television "air time." As a media guy, I know the dealer to be a stand-up bunch who takes care of their customers. I got the folks that I won the HHR from to use the dealership as the foreign cars they were offering wouldn't play in my community at all. I had to buy American and being a hyperlocal community site, I needed to buy local.
The car they had was a spotless, clean and well-optioned 2012 Volt Premium with good tires, clean Carfax and almost 3 years and 50,000 miles warranty on the Voltec Drive System. Some other parts of the warranty are also in place until 2022 and as a first time On-star user, apparently I can get five months of full coverage and three years basic with the purchase. (I had to find that out on my own.)
Back in 2009-10 - these folks were advertisers and I had been personally more excited about the Volt than I was about the new Camero in 2008. But being a bit outside the metro area, the dealership - which sells a ton of pickups, crossovers and SUVs - had little interest in promoting Volts then ... or now. I was surprised they had one used as they're whole marketing is aimed at the country music, NASCAR crowd.
Their even having the Volt on the lot that the Carfax confirms was a two-owner bought at auction was the tell that told me they had room to negotiate from the $13,500 asking price.
And that is the part that probably will make some of you mad ... but makes me happy. At least in this market, the depreciation on a new one is a killer in this time of lower gas prices and "climate-denying you-got-to-be-a tree-hugger if you got an EV culture" that is exurban Georgia.
I chided them about their corporate lack of enthusiasm for EV's going back to the Volt's introduction and reminded them that GM will be introducing 10 models of PHEVs and pure EVs in the next three years and what are you going to do???
I told them I figured since they bought the car at auction, their all-in was probably eight grand and I was willing to give them ten. They countered at $12,500 and I said that wasn't good enough. The dealership normally closed at 7p and it was getting toward 8. I told them I needed to test drive the car overnight to show my wife as she would be the one driving it and I'd let them know in the morning. They wanted to be firm on the price before I took it home overnight.
I was getting antsy and they could tell so they came back with a counter offer and we closed the deal almost $2,900 off their asking price. I mean they are also a customer of mine and I didn't want to beat them up too bad; they do have overhead.
To their credit, the folks at the dealership know that WHEN gasoline goes back up to $4.00/gallon, the price of these cars - especially in the used market - will zoom because of their growing reputation for reliability, over-engineered design as well as gas mileage.
My pitch to buy the car for a lot less than asking was effective and apparently was also 'entertaining' to some of the other sales folks, who let me know they were listening in on the 'negotiation.' I know this because one salesman came up, when I came back to announce my purchase, said so.
Anyway, that's my story of how I came to be a Volt owner ... it is a sweet ride ... and I'm sticking to it