Updated for 2022: Civic Hatchback vs LEAF Hatchback

In 2019 I wrote a guide for people to help them decide which vehicle type saved them more money: an affordable used EV with a solar panel grid-tied system, or a used automatic Honda Civic hatchback with similar features. Here’s an update with some more recent figures given that the costs have changed over the years depending on factors like technological improvements, and supply chain shortages.

Now a used 2019 Civic hatchback is priced at $28,990. The base trim includes features like a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 5-inch display screen, and a USB port.” $35,715 is for a 2022 Civic Sport CVT hatchback at Regina Honda as I write this.

My used Nissan LEAF 2014 (bought 5 years ago), with the same technology features listed above plus rear heated seats, and heated steering wheel (handy in Winter): $15,500. At my old place, I had 8 solar panels which cost $8,400 installed. Together that’s $23,900. Today if you bought a 2015 LEAF on Autotrader it would be $18,000. Assuming a $10,000 solar panel array installed, that’s $28,000.

Now, I’m no financial genius, but a solar powered hatchback that costs $990 less than a new gas burning hatchback that also needs 2 oil changes a year, seems like a better idea.

Doubting sorts might question, can a $10,000, 2.5kW solar array really power a Nissan LEAF. That’s a great question! The answer is complicated. The short answer is yes!

Using a Bluetooth OBDII car-computer reading gizmo to read the LEAF’s battery status with my phone and the app Leaf Spy Lite, it reveals the car’s battery has 20kWh of capacity, down from its brand new 24kWh selling point.

Using the Solar Edge website, I was able to determine that my solar array in March would typically produce more than 10kWh per day. That electricity is instantly used in the house, the EV if plugged in to charge, and the excess goes into the grid. The power company, SaskPower, no longer provides a 1-for-1 credit for the electricity provided vs. taken from their grid in a set year. In 2019 SaskPower ended Net Metering and started Net Billing. There’s now a 0.5-for-1 credit instead. It is still economical to get solar to offset an EV use. You’re not paying for gas, and can include the expense of the solar array in your vehicle’s operating budget.

My household tends to charge our LEAF to 100% overnight on the the Level 2 fast charger, and use it to about 50% capacity during the following day. That means it needs ~10kWh put back into it at night.  Astute readers will note that’s about how much power the 2.5kW solar array produces during the day. The LEAF doesn’t need gasoline, or oil changes. You can “fill” it at home on a regular wall plug, or a more convenient Level 2 charger.

Why are people still buying new Civics as a town car? If they routinely travel more than 100km in the city in a day, or 70km at top highway speeds, the Civic might be more appealing, but it’s obviously more expensive and harder on your lungs and our planet’s living systems.

Now, if you want to save even more money, and save more creatures, I have another tip for you:

Buy an ebike or etrike instead of an EV, if you’re using it for in-town travel. Your cost to recharge an ebike is about 2 cents. That’s not a typo, it’s really only two cents to charge an ebike battery to travel up to 50km. And they’re more fun than any car.

Sidewalk Tax? You Must Jest?

Yes, the www.sidewalktax.ca is a jest, it’s poking fun at the Saskatchewan Governmenet in a way that might pique your interest if you’re just an average driver going about your day. They’re running radio ads, and there’s less than a week remaining in the campaign where they’ll refund the EV tax for Saskatchewan drivers who’ve registered an EV. It’s a bit of a fund raiser for the Sask Environmental Society, and Lung Association of Sask also.

And is the EV tax fair? No, it’s completely unfair. It’s a stab at EV owners who are doing more about the climate crisis than the entire Government of Saskatchewan, which is owned in part by the fossil fuel industry. The math shows the government is collecting a lot more in payments from EV owners than ICE car drivers. Even so, it’s still a better idea to get an EV than a gas-burning car or truck, and saves you money in the long run.

Silly Saskatchewan Party

EVs are not getting a free ride on the roads.

A look through Saskatchewan budget documents shows clearly that the amounts spent annually to maintain highways far exceed what’s collected through the fuel tax on gasoline, diesel and propane that are earmarked for highway building and upkeep. For instance, Harpauer’s 2021-22 budget projects spending $830 million on highways, while the fuel tax is expected to raise $477.9 million.

In fact, from 2008 to 2022, fuel tax revenues total $6.8 billion, while $10.6 billion is spent on highways. 

opinion/columnists/peiris-saskatchewans-new-tax-on-electric-vehicles-a-sign-of-more-silliness-to-come

Link broken on purpose.

The Sask Party doesn’t care about the climate crisis.

Anti-carbon tax Government attacks hundreds of EV owners with a new tax

Saskatchewan Government will start charging EV owners $150 a year. The Minister who removed the EV incentive almost a decade ago took his next job as Canada’s top oil and gas lobbyist. If that doesn’t scream Conflict of Interest, what does?

This is an “anti-#carbontax“, as it encourages people to stay away from a zero emission technology without directly regulating against them, and without collecting sufficient money to make a solid impact on most consumers. It’s still worth getting an EV, and gas burners will be mostly gone by the end of the decade, but the Sask Petrostate Party will still implement this unpopular tax to give a figurative middle finger to the hundreds of families who’ve decided to move on to better technology and leave oil in the dust.

SGI is sending back money, but the government is collecting over half of it back from anyone smart enough to choose a zero emission vehicle (that the federal government offers $5000 off to buy). It’s a cash grab by the desperate Sask Party. It sucks to live in a Petrostate some (most) days.

Post From the Past: Tesla vs. Ford GM

https://twitter.com/mims/status/848971911975636992

https://www.wsj.com/articles/tesla-overtakes-gm-to-become-most-valuable-u-s-auto-maker-1491832043

These tweets brought to you by April 3rd, 2017, the past when I wrote this blog post, and probably have since forgotten about it.

UPDATE Nov. 20, 2018, Mims deleted his tweet, sadly, so I don’t see the prediction he made any longer.

ADDED: I think it must have been a comment about Tesla not being worth as much as Ford and GM in reality.
“What Is Tesla Really Worth?
Auto maker rivals Ford, GM in market cap; profits are far behind
By Charley Grant
Updated April 16, 2017 11:13 p.m. ETTesla Inc. is valued as though it will soon conquer the U.S. auto market. Now, it has the small task of actually doing so.Tesla shares have been unstoppable ahead of the Model 3 launch, having gained 40% this year. The upstart auto maker is more valuable than Ford and slightly less valuable than General Motors on a market cap basis. The crux of the excitement is the all-electric Model 3 sedan that Tesla says will start at $35,000. Production is scheduled to begin this summer.

“UPDATE April 3, 2020:I can’t believe the future is here. Recommended reading provides the answer to my claimed prediction from 2017:

EVs Outselling Stick Shift

Not surprising, people are buying more EV cars than manual transmission ones.

Presently fewer than 10% are voting for EV as their preferred transmission type. As Mike points out, EVs don’t have a transmission, so is it really a fair comparison. Wouldn’t you rather drive a vehicle you don’t have to shift, has better acceleration, and has no transmission to break down?

UPDATE:

Dec. 2, come to the RPL Film Theatre for a special presentation by James Whittingham about why EVs are the best winter vehicles.

 

“Andrew Scheer here”

Billy Mays here with your latest As Seen On TV fad/junk:

If you missed the phony deadline to save $2, don’t worry, I have a way you can save thousands, and avoid paying the carbon tax too.


As you can read here, it’s already less expensive to buy a used EV than a new gas burning vehicle with most of the same features for city driving.

BONUS:

Civic Hatchback vs. LEAF Hatchback

Should you buy a Honda gas burner, or a pure electric Nissan if you need a family hatchback motor vehicle?

“2019 Civic hatchback and coupe models are priced […] at $20,150US and $19,350US, respectively. The base trim includes features like a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 5-inch display screen, and a USB port.”

Currency exchange is about 1.34 to CAD right now, so that’s 20150*1.34 = $27000$26,265 (price updated Apr 27, 2019)

My used Nissan LEAF 2014 (bought 2 years ago), with the same technology features listed above plus rear heated seats, and heated steering wheel (handy in Winter): $15,500. At my old place, I had 8 solar panels which cost $8400 installed. Together that’s $23,900.

Now, I’m no financial genius, but a solar powered hatchback that costs $2365 less than a new gas burning hatchback, seems like a better idea.

Doubting sorts might question, can a $8400, 2kW solar array really power a Nissan LEAF. That’s a great question! The answer is complicated. The short answer is yes.

Using a Bluetooth OBDII car-computer reading gizmo to read the LEAF’s battery status with my phone and the app Leaf Spy Lite, it reveals the car’s battery has 20kWh of capacity, down from its brand new 24kWh selling point.

Using the Solar Edge website, I was able to determine that my array in March would typically produce more than 10kWh per day. That electricity is instantly used in the house, the EV if plugged in to charge, and the excess goes into the grid. The power company, SaskPower, provides a credit 1-for-1 for the electricity provided vs. taken from their grid in a set year. This is known as Net Metering.

(UPDATE Oct. 2019: The backwards Sask Party has ended Net Metering in Saskatchewan, there’s now a 0.5-for-1 credit instead. It may still be economical to get solar to offset an EV use,  but rerun your calculations.)

My household tends to charge the LEAF to 100% overnight on the regular wall plug (slow Level 1 charging this is called), and use it to about 50% capacity during the following day. That means it needs ~10kWh put back into it at night.  Astute readers will note that’s about how much power the panels are producing.

The LEAF doesn’t need gasoline, or oil changes. You can “fill” it at home on a regular wall plug. Why are people still buying new Civics? If they routinely travel more than 100km in the city in a day, or 70km at top highway speeds, the Civic might be more appealing, but it’s obviously more expensive and harder on your lungs and our planet’s creatures.

Now, if you want to save even more money, and more creatures, I have another tip for you: