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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blue like Thomas

So, we are now the proud owners of a Nissan Leaf! What, you may ask? Last you heard we couldn't even get on the exclusive 'reserve a car' list, which is the precursor to actually ordering a car, which then takes anywhere from 3 months to a year to get.

Well, I have to credit Jeff. He stalked the Leaf like a tween stalks Justin Bieber. He read every blog, every website, every youtube video about the Leaf. And, he found that you could track the VIN numbers of the cars delivered to dealerships. So, he noticed that the 3 dealerships on Oahu had received a new shipment on Sunday. He was hoping a couple of the cars would be "orphaned" which means someone ordered it but decided they didn't want it once it came. Then, it actually can be sold to anyone or goes down the list to the next person. As soon as the dealerships were open on Sunday, Jeff started making phone calls. And, he found that a dealership had actually gotten a couple extra Leafs that weren't reserved for anyone. So, we jumped in the car and headed over there. It's 30 minutes away. And, for mainland friends and family, they are probably laughing because 30 minutes is not far. But, once you live in Hawaii long enough, you begin to consider anything more than a 20 minute drive as super far. And, though I thought I wouldn't fall into that trap, I have to admit I was a little reluctant to drive ALL THE WAY TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND on the off chance that this dealership had the Leaf. But, Jeff was so excited, so off we went.

Once we got there, we were told that the guy who is certified to sell the Leaf was not in on Sundays, so we couldn't test drive the car. WHAT??? That was certainly not what were told on the phone. Well, thankfully, the sales manager, overheard us and came to our rescue. He actually gave us the keys to president of the dealership's car to test drive (so, thanks!). We loved it. Nikhil loved it. After Jeff and I both drove it, Nikhil asked, "My turn to drive, please?" So, we let him "drive". Then, sales manager actually called the Leaf salesman at home and made him come in on his day off because we were so desperate to get this car.

OK, so we violated rule # 1 of negotiations - clearly, you should never let the other party know how much you want something. The second mistake is that we had our 2 year old with us. It's good to bring your kids to make sure the car seats fit and there's enough room for strollers, etc. But, you cannot negotiate while also trying to watch a 2 year old run around touching everything. It's just not possible to have your game face on. Well, we went through some paperwork and they told us there was an additional $3000 upcharge fee since we hadn't reserved the car. We weren't too happy with that, but like I said, my attention was distracted by Nikhil and the fact that I was now late for a bridal shower, so I didn't press the issue. And, they convinced us that because the state rebate of $4500 was going to run out soon, it was best to get the car now, blah, blah blah.

On our way home, the upcharge fee began to bother us - $3000 is a lot of money! That's 10% the price of the car. We started to have buyer's remorse, but luckily we hadn't signed any contracts. So, the next day, we call around to the other dealerships who don't upcharge and then I was able to call the sales manager back and explain that I was having difficulty stomaching the fee. I was trying to play on the "Indian" angle. The sales manager is of Indian ethnicity, from Fiji and though I'm Indian, from North Carolina, well, there are so few Indians out here in Hawaii, I really thought that common bond would help us out. Well, it worked! He waived the fee and we were happy again!

So, now we are going green. The money we save is enormous. Right now we get 18 mpg in our Toyota Highlander (2008). And, here is the cheapest Oahu's gas price for 89 unleaded which is what we use, even though I think we were supposed to be using the more expensive gas for the 20 year old Lexus.


This guy worked it out that with the Leaf, you get 12 miles per $1 fuel (electricity). That's factoring in the cost of electricity in Hawaii, which is 28 cents/kilowatt hour, which is way more than on the mainland (i know, the paradise tax). The average price in the rest of the country is a mere 13 cents/Kwh. With our Highlander, we were getting 4.25 miles per $1 fuel (so one-third less). And, since we have photovoltaic cells, we actually probably get more miles per $1 fuel since our electricity is cheaper.

So, totally, a no-brainer for living in Hawaii. The fact that we never need to drive more than 100 miles at a time and the high gas prices make the Leaf a super logical choice.

And, it's "blue like Thomas the train" just like Nikhil wanted.

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