Let me jump in on this too. I've been following the Model 3 since the reveal and it is really not a fair side-by-side comparison to the Leaf. The Model 3 is aimed at BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C Class and Audi A4 markets. The Leaf is aimed at the Civics, Golf, Focus, Corolla, etc. markets. So a direct comparison is not 100% accurate.
Tesla is a premium brand and people are willing to pay for that, as they are for BMW and the others. So if money is not an issue, then the Model 3 is a great BEV and truly a game changer. It was the first 200 mile + BEV and set the bar for many who are following (like Nissan and most other manufacturers). The 500,000 reservations for a car that would not be delivered at least for 2 years was unprecedented in the automobile industry and this event acted as a catalyst to spur the other manufacturers (not necessarily Nissan) to get on the BEV bandwagon because a new paradigm shift was starting and the consumer automobile landscape is changing - albeit slowly but within the next 50-100 years we will see consumer ICE be relegated to a minority over other technologies - most notable electrification. That is my belief.
Tesla has built up a rather passionate and rabid following and I too have been caught up in that hype and fandom. My ultimate respect to Elon for building a company designed to effect positive change in hopes of benefiting humanity. His goal of turning around this industry has been met as we now see the tanker is starting to slowly turn. This is all good.
However, let's not forget that it really was Nissan who ventured out first (GM EV1 does not count) with a truly more affordable all-Electric vehicle aimed at the mass markets.
Starting in 2010 (when Tesla was only delivering a small number of very high priced Roadsters), Nissan has sold and delivered over 300,000 Leafs around the globe. That is an amazing accomplishment for what many argued was a "compliance" car. However it was engineered from the ground up as a BEV and was the start of Nissan's IM strategy.
We can argue the idea that Nissan took a bit longer to continue into growing this market by delaying improvements in Gen 1 leafs and waiting this long to get Gen 2 out. However, other than Tesla, I believe Nissan has one of the clearest paths to electrification and has a huge head start on everyone else. Plus, they have the vastly superior manufacturing capabilities then lets say Tesla and can ramp up new lines faster and IMO better. Did you know the Smyrma plant produces the most vehicles of any plant/manufacturer in the world! Over 650,000 vehicles per year!.
I know Tesla is trying real hard to ramp up and they do back up their products with outstanding customer service, however they should not have to back up small/minor QC problems that seem to crop up from Model S/X vehicles. Especially since these are not built in the same numbers as other manufacturer comparative vehicles. Look if I'm paying $100k+ CAD for a car, I don't expect to have to take it back to the dealer to get small things fixed. For a real life example, I still own a 2008 Nissan Versa and have had it for 9 years now - bought it used at 1 year old and paid $12K CAD for it. I've had to take it to the dealer for repairs three times in 9 years. Once for a new Generator that just died one day, once for a new O2 sensor and the other for a new trunk switch that suddenly stopped working - and that was just last month! There were also 4 recalls (2 of them Takada Airbag related).
So my case in point is that I don't think this frequency of small issues would occur with a BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S Class, etc. My thoughts here are generalized so I know that no manufacturer has any issues. I'm just summarizing as I hear more Tesla owners talk about small things that they've happily gone back to have fixed/dealt with, but my feeling is they should not have to be dealing with this for the price they've paid. I would argue that there are fewer Leaf owners with issues than Tesla owners but that could be debatable.
So if I get back to topic, if you crunch some numbers, the Leaf is not a bad pick over a Model 3. I'm going to use Canadian Numbers here since my research has been done here locally in Ontario to compare similarly equipped/featured models:
- Leaf 2.0 SL Trim - fully loaded with paint cost, all other fees including Freight/PDI: $43,850 CAD * Leaf SL has full leather, 4 heated seats (2 front, 2 outward in back), 6-way power w/lumbar, drivers seat, heat pump, ProPilot tech, tilt only steering wheel, 1 usb/aux plug, car play/android car, upgraded bose sound, Sat Nav, XM and 40kWh Battery Pack with passive cooling but has heater, DC Fast Charger, smartphone app
- HST Tax at 13% +$5,700 CAD
- Total Gross Cost $49,550 CAD
- Less Ontario EV Incentive Program Rebate of $14,000 CAD (Nissan fronts this rebate and gives it to you at time of sale)
- Your out the door at about $35,550 CAD
- Tesla Model 3 Standard Range @ $35,000 USD: $45,395 CAD (estimate taking FX, based on current Tesla USA to CAD pricing differences from website) * Cloth seats, standard stereo, centre console with 2 usb, dual zone climate, no AutoPilot, LED headlights, 60kWH battery w/thermal management! Tesla OTA and paid SuperCharging access, 18-inch rims/wheels, keycard and smartphone entry and apps.
- Add paint other than black: $1,000 USD: $1,300 CAD estimate
- Add Premium interior: $5,000 USD: $6,600 CAD estimate (leather, heated seats, wood decor, two rear USBs, 12-way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats with driver profiles, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, streaming audio - no XM, glass roof, auto dimming auto folding side mirrors, LED fog lamps, centre console with covered storage and two smartphone docking, no CarPlay/android car.
- Add AutoPilot (LDW, LA, EAB, BSW, ACC, etc.): $5,000 USD: $6,600 CAD
- Add Freight/PDI/fees: $1100 USD: $1,400 CAD
- Subtotal: $47,000 USD: $61,295 CAD
- Add HST Tax at $13% = $7,968 CAD
- Total Gross Cost: $69,263 CAD
- Then you have to mail away for the rebate, 2-6 months wait for cheque: Less $14,000 CAD (estimated, Model 3 not on website yet)
- Your total out the door at about $55,263 CAD estimated
So for a similarly equipped and packaged options EV, the difference calculated in the above example is $19,713 CAD Net. Yes the Model 3 has a bigger battery, which nets about 100km or so more range, you can use SuperCharger network (but not free), Autopilot should be better than ProPilot, nicer looking (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), clean/simple interior (Leaf has over 50 buttons!), Tesla OTA updates enhance car over time, front trunk space, more acceleration and performance 0-60, braking, etc. However, in my experience as I've had the opportunity to drive a Model 3 for 2 days and review it, the ride is stiffer than the Leaf 2.0. So overall handling could be argued as better for the Model 3 and I suspect it would perform better in slalom and skidpad than the Leaf 2.0. Plus, the Model 3 is a Tesla which is a premium brand.
To summarize this very long post, there are pros and cons for both and people who love Tesla are very passionate about it and are willing to overlook delivery delays, panel gaps, squeaks & rattles, etc. - which will all get fixed eventually - in order to enjoy the Telsa brand. That's great and I am not trying to change personal opinions on this.
I just wanted to take a practical non-emotional view of comparing these two EVs today. Yes, you can trim down the costs for a Model 3 to loose some of the options, however then to me that takes away from a truer comparison.
The value that this new Leaf 2.0 offers for the package/performance/range is really remarkable in comparison to the others. eGolf is priced about the same here in Ontario, but you can't get one. Ioniq is about $1,000 CAD more. i3 is more money. Bolt is more money, about $11,000 CAD more.
One of the things I also look at when comparison is cost of borrowing, as most of us don't have that kind of cash to outright purchase a car so we would have to lease/finance. From a rebate perspective, here in Ontario Nissan and GM are fronting the rebate amounts of $14,000 CAD and putting that on the sale deal like a downpayment). VW is a hit and miss with this thru dealers. Hyundai does not front nor does BMW. So then you would have to factor in the costs (if any) associated with yourself putting in the rebate yourself upfront and then waiting for the MTO to send you your cheque in 2-6 months.
I know I've used CAD costing here, but for all you in the USA it would be simple to extrapolate this comparison in U.S. Dollars and use your federal and state-specific incentives to apply to these costs.
My goal is not to discourage any Model 3 or Leaf lovers, but to provide a snapshot comparison of overall price point and value that can be had today with these two vehicles so that one can make a more better informed decision. Hope this helps.
New Leaf Owner: Just ordered Feb 24 2018, 2018 Leaf SL in Jade Frost. Expected ETA by May 30 2018.